Brief – what the heck is that?

Brief is one of the fundamental tools in marketing, no matter if you order marketing services inside your organization or outside. Why? See for yourself.

Let’s look at the brief from the client’s perspective. If you ever order a marketing service, you should go through a briefing process at some moment in time. The better you are prepared, the easier the cooperation will be.

 What is a Marketing Brief?

Usually, we talk about briefs in the context of creation in marketing. It is a tool that helps to find out, what needs to be done. 

How does a brief work? Most commonly, it is a questionnaire asking you for information about your company, the thing that you want to get done, and the audience.

Let’s say you run a florist business and you want a specialist to create an advertisement for you. Before he or she starts working on your ad, they should ask questions about your business needs. What is your market (e.g., local or nationwide), what is the purpose of the ad (lure new customers, tell them about a new shop?), the audience, the media, etc? At least, that’s what I would do.

Too much for a beginner? No worries, I cover all these issues in this article.

 What Questions to Ask in a Copywriting Brief?

It all comes down to a few simple questions. Who, what, why, etc. Usually, I ask clients more specific questions to learn as much as I can about their needs. However, the list below is a good starting point.

1. Who?

The who in the marketing brief is your company. Who needs promotion? Name, industry, history, values, personality. Marketing that works is always backed by factual information about your business. You don’t want to sound like everyone, do you?

I want you to stand out from the crowd because your company is special. You’re special, and your clients deserve to know that. But to make it happen, we need to tailor the marketing to your company.

A short digression. You may think that your business is dull and simple. You might even think that people are aware of how it works or why your product is better than those offered by your competitors. Trust me, these things are obvious for you, but not for your clients or prospects.

2. What?

There are two “whats” in this game.

One is your product or service. We need to know as much as possible, everything, about it. This is the only way to show your clients how different and better from anything else is your product/service.

The other “what” asks what do you want or need? 

Print advertising, white paper, landing page, blog post, or a script for a radio commercial? Or maybe you need effective content for your company’s new website? Maybe you’re looking forward to creating materials for the next month’s trade show?

You may have a clear idea about what you need, or you just want some kind of an advertisement, it’s all good. We’ll work this out. Maybe you’ve seen something you like and think that will work for you. On the contrary, if there’s something you definitely don’t want, it’s important as well.

3. Why? 

Why do you want me to write for you? What is the purpose of your promotion? Do you want to lure your clients with a discount? Or maybe you have some new products and, of course, you want people to come and buy them? Is it your first advertisement, or will it be a continuation of your promotional activity? 

4. When?

When do you want me to do it? When do you need it? That’s the one side. The other side is when do you want to use it? Is it a radio commercial introducing your Black Friday sale or next year’s Valentine’s promotion?

If we’re talking about a series of advertisements (articles, videos, etc.), what’s your schedule? Do you already have one? Or maybe we’re talking about a newsletter here? When will you send it? If it’s a sequence of letters, then how often will you deliver?

5. Where?

The distribution is often overlooked. It is a crucial factor though. An advertisement in a local newspaper may be different from an ad in a nationwide magazine. Copy for a newspaper ad and a website pop-up will differ as well. Every medium and format has its characteristics.

6. How?

How would you like it? What’s your brand personality? Your marketing should fit into your character and approach to business. What are the challenges to your brand? What do you want to achieve? How does it fit into your marketing strategy? 

But be careful, we need to adjust the communication to your audience as well. So, to whom we’re talking? Corporations CEOs or small business owners? Life of a party or a mourner? We need that insight to make your marketing work.

 Who Needs a Copywriting Brief Anyway?

Alright, you know what questions to ask, but who needs that anyway? As I wrote at the beginning, briefs are used in marketing and other creative businesses. A brief is an invaluable tool for both the client and the marketer.

As a client, you will know what you order. Furthermore, you will be charged and pay for what’s in the brief. In case of a misunderstanding, it will be a guide to finding a solution. With a deliberate brief, you know what to expect and you can plan your marketing activities accordingly.

Providers, on the other hand, will know if they can soothe your pains. A brief is a guideline for the marketer (or any other creator, like a photographer or designer). They should do exactly what is in the brief. Unless, of course, the client agrees to particular changes. But still, copywriting without a brief is like travelling without a map. It may be entertaining, but you don’t know where you gonna sleep tonight.

 How to Create a Copywriting Brief?

Preparations are invaluable. Ideally, spend some time thinking about all the whats, hows, and whys before you contact your service provider. It doesn’t mean you must create your brief in advance, but it will surely be helpful for both of you.

There are a couple of ways to create your brief:

  • write the brief on your own – now that you know what questions to ask, you will only need to answer them genuinely
  • use a template – soon, you will find one here
  • ask the provider for their template – I have my own, general template and I work on a more effortless template that will be useful for every client
  • work it out during workshops with your copywriter – we can meet in person or online and assess your needs and our possibilities. Then we will create a brief description of your needs.

To be honest, I believe that we should speak rather about briefing as a process than just brief. This process is inevitable and invaluable if you want a copywriter to truly delve into your company and prepare a piece of copy that will work the way you want it.

Do you want me to help you? Drop me a line, and I will send you my copywriting brief. 

If you have your brief already created, send it, and we will see how I can help you earn more money. 

Because that’s what copywriters do.

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