If you think you know everything there is to know about writing a good brief, think again.
80% of marketers think they give good briefs. 10% of agencies agree.
That’s according to BetterBriefs and their biggest study on marketing briefs to date. Even as a copywriter leading an agency, I know there have been plenty of times when my briefs have sucked.
If you’ve struggled to master the brief, I have good news. In this article, we’ll look at the five features your brief might be missing, why they matter, and how you can incorporate them. So you can brief like a pro and set your copywriters up for success.
Pens at the ready!
Before you ask a copywriter to wordsmith their way through your project, they’ll need to know a little bit about you and the events that led to the creation of this project.
No need to write an essay about the conception of your brand – a couple of paragraphs should set the scene.
Something like this:
Incredibble is a strategic communications agency for ambitious B2B brands.
Frustrated with an internet full of mediocre content and too many tales of burnt fingers, Incredibble sets a new standard in high quality copywriting.
We want to help you tell your best story so you can do the best job you can and realise your marketing potential.
Don't forget to share your style guide, brand guidelines, and audience personas too. When your copywriter has these things to hand, it usually means fewer edits and less back and forth trying to nail the TOV.
Once you’ve introduced your brand, share details of the wider campaign so that the copywriter knows where their work will come into play. Where relevant, indicate whether the content will be ToFu (top of the funnel), MoFu (middle of the funnel), or BoFu (bottom of the funnel). Otherwise, the content might be to support or increase employee engagement, or talent attraction (instead of playing a role in the buyers’ journey).
When a copywriter understands how their work fits into the bigger picture, they can write in a way that complements the work that's already been done.
Still figuring out how to get your editorial strategy off the ground? Read this.
#2 An objective
Your objective is the north star of your brief. It's a constant throughout the project, guiding your copywriter toward success.
To figure out your objective, ask yourself: what do you want the project to achieve? More sales? More email sign-ups? More ebook downloads?
A great website copywriter can pen you a beautifully worded website. But a well-written website isn’t always one that drives sales, grows your audience, or demonstrates thought leadership.
To achieve one of those goals, you need to set an objective and make sure your copywriter knows what it is.
#3 Key contacts
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
If I asked you to reach out to your company's technical expert, finance manager, or client services expert, you’d probably know how to get hold of them. But an external copywriter or agency won’t be privy to that handy information. And they’ll probably need to talk to them.
Making a note of key contacts and their roles and responsibilities in your brief will help the copywriter keep the project moving forward, should they need to reach out to anyone.
Make sure you identify who they should contact if they have questions about the project, who they will need to interview, who they should send the completed project to, and who they invoice. And if you’ll facilitate the introduction (it’s really handy if you do!).
Most copywriters spend more time researching and gathering information than they do writing. Help them get a head start on the project by providing plenty of resources in your brief.
Perhaps your main competitor launched a cracking ebook, or your company produced one a few years back that you’d love to emulate. Maybe a certain research paper sparked your idea for this project, or a new survey has been released that you’d like to link to.
If you're struggling to articulate what you're looking for in a brief, resources can help convey those messages without you needing to write more. If words aren’t your forte, that’s okay. Links to old projects, academic papers, YouTube videos, and industry examples can all help put a copywriter in the picture.
#5 The stuff inside your head
Articulating your thoughts on paper isn’t easy. That's why you hired a copywriter, right?
One way we overcome this at Incredibble is by setting up a stakeholder call to explore the brief in greater detail. We’re able to ask the questions that get us right to the heart of your project, and in return, you get to talk about your vision for the project in a relaxed setting, without the pressure of writing it down.
Over the years, I’ve noticed that important details come to light on a call that wouldn’t make their way into the brief otherwise. A strategic copywriting agency will be able to extract these key details and fortify your brief with extra info.
Next time you’re writing a brief, don’t forget to include these five features. Copywriters and agencies will thank you, and their words will be ones you wish you’d written yourself.