Calling all clients: What makes a good brief?

We’re here to make your copywriting project go as smoothly as possible. But it all starts with a great brief.

Here’s how to brief like a pro.

We work with all types of clients across the globe at Copywriter Collective, from experienced marketing teams, to budding entrepreneurs. Whether you fall into either of those brackets, or somewhere in between, finding the time to write a comprehensive copywriting brief may not be top of your list.
To make things even more complicated, every copywriter and agency has a slightly different way of working. This can trip up even seasoned marketing bods when it comes to providing all the right info. For those penning their very first copywriting brief, you might not know where to start.
Then there’s the troublesome fact that every client, and every brief is different. So, creating a generic brief for every situation isn’t as easy as it sounds. An extensive content writing project will be very different to a large transcreation job for instance.brief
What every project does have in common
It’s best to start with the basics. Whatever you need a copywriter for, there are some solid bits of information we’ll need to know. They are:

  1. Your company background – what you do, and how long you’ve been doing it for
  2. Your target audience – who your customers are and who’s attention you’re looking to capture
  3. Your budget – often clients don’t know how much a copywriter costs, and may shy away from providing a budget. But chances are, in your mind you’ll at least have an idea of what you can afford
  4. Your timescales – again, this might be a hazy detail, but in almost any case, you’ll know what sort of deadlines you’re working to

These important pieces of information will ultimately define what type of copywriter you’re best suited to. And, it helps us match you with someone who can deliver what you need, to your budget, when you need it.

Effective brief-taking

These starter questions help us work efficiently, we also need to find out more about the project itself to tackle your creative needs.
People turn to copywriting agencies like ours for a number of reasons. Primarily, it’s to get the best copywriters without spending time searching for them, and to get help briefing and managing the project. Ultimately, that saves a client time in the long run, but you need to spend a few minutes at the start to give us the right information.
This doesn’t mean we’ll send you a lengthy form to fill out, or a complicated set of questions to answer. We keep it quick, simple, and to-the-point.

What we really need to know

We’ve spent 12 years working with clients on a range of briefs, and before that, the Copywriter Collective gang worked as copywriters and creatives at big agencies, and as freelancers. This experience has given us an insight into how things can go wrong, and what helps them go right.
Because of this, we always ask every client to give us the most important information right at the start, before we send you a proposal. This is what we really need to know from you:brief

  1. Do you have any draft text, or rough copy?
  2. Does this need reworking, or are we writing everything from scratch?
  3. If you do have rough copy, does this need making longer, or shorter?
  4. Does it need writing in a new language?
  5. Do we need to change the tone of voice to match your business’s personality?

These five questions are the key to providing the right sort of solution. As you can imagine, if a copywriter needs to start everything from scratch, defining a new tone of voice, and writing without rough text to prompt them, this will take substantially longer than a project with draft copy, that simply needs polishing up.

We don’t do long briefing forms

All the points mentioned so far can be answered in a few words. Sounds lovely, right? This will save you time, and it means that whether you have a mammoth copywriting project, or a far less intensive requirement, you’ll be able to brief us in a few minutes.
But before you send that fantastically honed brief to us, don’t forget to include one vital thing. We’ll need to see your draft text or existing copy. And we’ll need to see it in a word or excel document.brief
Why, you ask? Because without this, mistakes can happen. Projects can be underestimated, and details can be missed. Some jobs, like transcreation projects, are priced by the word, so we’d need to know exactly how many words are involved to provide accurate quotes. For all other types of requests, an easy-to-read version of your text will help freelancers understand just how much time is needed, and word documents are the clearest way of showing this.

Brief us right, first time

To get the ball rolling, you just need to fill out our online form here.
If you like, simply copy and paste this into the message, with a quick note of your answers alongside it.

  1. What your company does, where you are, and how long you’ve been running
  2. Who your customers/target audience are
  3. What your budget is
  4. Your deadline
  5. Do you have any draft text or rough copy?
  6. Does this need reworking, or are we writing everything from scratch?
  7. Does it need making longer, or shorter?
  8. Does it need writing in a new language?
  9. Do you need a new tone of voice to match your business’s personality?
  10. And last but not least, don’t forget to attach a word or excel document with your rough text

If you’re still unsure of how to start, just send us a message to say hello, and we can take you through the briefing process from there. And don’t worry, we have representatives across the globe, speaking a whole range of languages, so we can chat to you in whatever language you feel most comfortable with.
About the author:
Clio –  she is a freelance copywriter clio - profile picspecialising in writing effective sales, promotions and marketing content for both business to business and business to consumer clients, whether that’s online or on the printed page.