How to write a simple brief in 4-simple steps

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If you invest a little time writing up a brief, the process will reward you many times over. Accurate in equals accurate out as the saying goes.
There’s no problem in making an initial phone enquiry if you prefer to work that way. But at some point, a copywriter will need a documented set of requirements to assess the scope of work and provide an accurate quote.
If you haven’t briefed a project before, follow this simple guide to avoid the pitfalls associated with a loose set of requirements:
DeadlinesDeadlines are important.
There’s little point in a copywriter quoting for a job that needs to be delivered tomorrow if they have real deadlines to meet for other clients.
Good copywriters are always busy so if your work is required urgently and you can’t move the deadline, make it clear.
BudgetsBudgets are a sticky subject: many people are reluctant to disclose a budget if they have one. I think it’s because they’re worried that copywriters will quote to the budget even if the work could be completed for less.
While this probably happens on rare occasions, the vast majority of copywriters are committed to delivering value because they’d like more business from you in the future.
If your budget falls into the ”We don’t have a budget and have no idea what copywriting costs” bracket, try reaching out to a copywriter for advice. Perhaps get a high-level estimate first then work it through from there.
Define your expectationsSometimes new jobs can be managed with remote communication. A few telephone calls, exchange of emails, maybe a video conference.
But sometimes, copywriters need to immerse themselves more deeply to get a better understanding of the job at hand.
This might be as simple as a mandatory briefing at the client's HQ. But it could also mean attending an event, receiving a product demo, interviewing distributors or sampling products.
If you feel anything like this is required to deliver excellent work, add it to the brief.
Embrace the processUnderstanding the copywriting process can be really useful when briefing a new project.
In its purest form, copywriters interpret the brief, carry out the research and deliver the first draft for consideration.
Clients will typically require amendments, and this is all part of the process. If the brief is clear, revisions should be minimal.
But if the brief is rushed, this can often give rise to multiple revisions, and in the worst case scenario, the job has to be tackled again from scratch in light of new information.
Client’s find this frustrating and the cycle can generate a lot of friction. The client becomes unhappy, as does the provider.
A promise of unlimited revisions without any constraint is never realistic, and 20-years in the business working with over 400 briefs has taught me that the happiest customers are the ones whose projects were seamlessly delivered.
FREE briefing templateI’m always happy to help businesses with any queries regarding this subject, and I’ve created a Word template you can use to get started.
You can fill it in as it is, modify it to your needs, or take cues and add elements to your own documentation. Just drop me a line, and I'll send it through.
About the authorPhil Allen is a former agency owner with 20-years B2B and B2C content writing experience. He now works as a freelance copywriter for businesses and agencies in the UK, creating persuasive copy for websites, advertising and marketing.


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