One thing all writers can agree on is that having a clear understanding of what you need to write makes it 100% easier. Nobody likes working on a project only to realize you missed the point — or the point changed (over and over and over again). So, what’s the best way to avoid aimless writing (and rewriting)? Make sure the brief you’re working with has the story you need to tell.
As the writer, you can help shape the brief. This past year I worked on a content email and landing page called, “How to Write Amazing Text on Your Website.” It was part of an educational series of emails we were creating from scratch. The brief was half-baked when I received it. The PM had included an inspirational video by Mozcon on “How to Write Customer-Driven Copy That Converts” and a vague idea of how she wanted the landing page to look, in a word, “interactive.”
Based on her video inspiration and my own research, I was able to work together with the PM to shape the email from start to finish. Once we agreed on the story (6 important questions you should answer on your website), we worked with design to see how the landing page could be interactive.
Since the PM, content and design were all on the same page, we ended up creating an email and landing page that not only looked amazing, but sounded authentic. Not to mention, the average CTR (click through rate) from the email to the landing page doubled!
By becoming a partner with your PM, you can shape the messaging in the brief and create work you’re both proud of (and stay sane while doing so).
If you’re not sure where to start, here are 7 questions you can ask your PM to help get the ball rolling:
Determine the message hierarchy. Do your own research to better understand if the points they’ve included are the best ones to cover.
Pinpoint the target audience. What do they need? How familiar are they with this product? Ask your PM why this target audience was chosen above all others. And why now?
Determine which elements are needed, such as a video script, email, banner, landing page and more. Be clear on what your PM imagined for each asset.
Find out where your project will live, so you can understand how readers will feel when they come across it.
What do you want your readers to do? Where will the button take them? Understanding the call to action will help you shape the journey leading up to it. For example, “Give It a Shot,” “Tell Me More” or “Add App.”
Does your brief include inspiration and examples? Clarify why each one was chosen. When you understand what your PM is imagining, you can start visualizing it too.
Does this deadline work well with your current schedule? If not, suggest a date that allows you enough time to deliver your best work.
Remember, you’re not just a content writer. You’re also a researcher and a team player. So become your own detective and find the answers you need to write the content you love.
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