When it comes to commissioning any type of creative work, a great brief is a must.
Not only can a brief make or break a marketing project, it also sets the tone for your working relationship between you and the agency or freelancer.
Some people may think ‘Why bother with a brief? I’ll just tell them what I want over the phone, and we can begin!’
A brief is essentially your roadmap for the project. Without it, someone could get lost along the way.
Whether it’s a series of emails to your customer list, a product description, or a video script, a clear brief sets expectations from the outset and allows both client and freelancer to establish exactly what is needed, and by when.
Here’s what a good copy brief should consist of. I’ve also included project sample text so you can see how it could be filled out.
Title of Project: (i.e. Onboarding Email for New Volunteers - Christmas 2018)
Description of project: ( ‘We need a new welcome email for volunteers that have signed up in the run up to Christmas who are about to do their first charity visit)
Format of project: (Copy for Mailchimp, up to 500 words. Include x2 alternate subject headings)
Rework of existing job, or new: (New job)
Background to your business: (‘We are a charity based in the UK offering hospital visits to sick children to brighten their day)
Include website URL and any supporting documents: (‘MakeAWish.org’)
Target audience: (‘Volunteers who have signed up to our newsletter’)
Core message: (‘We are happy to have you on board and we look forward to you brightening the lives of children who are ill in hospital’)
What is the personality of your brand, and your values? (‘We are warm, friendly and accessible. We value being kind and this is reflected in our tone of voice’).
What do you want your audience to think and feel with this content?
(‘We would like our volunteers to feel welcomed and supported, and that we are pleased they are on board. We want them to think that they have made a good choice, and that they are looking forward to making a difference’)
Who are your competitors? (N/A)
What is your call to action? (To get the volunteers to join our Private Facebook group)
When is this required by? (Final version of copy required by 1.11.18)
With a clear brief, the freelancer can see exactly what’s needed, and ask questions if appropriate. Depending on timescales, a call can be undertaken to discuss the brief before the project begins too, if needed.
A good brief should be clear, and to the point.
It doesn’t always need to have all of the segments listed above - sometimes more helps, or sometimes less - it depends on the size and scale of the project and the business itself. But keep it to one page of A4 if you can.
So why bother with a brief?
Having a clear brief can save time, because everything is in writing, and agreed before the freelancer starts work - so no questions in the middle of the project to clarify things.
Agreeing on a brief beforehand can save money, because by stipulating the proposed scope at the outset and mutually agreeing on the direction, it can mean that amend times are usually minimised.
Clear briefs can also save on resource - by documenting your work, you’ll be able to dig out old briefs, tweak them a little, and pass them on to the next freelancer or agency. It also gives you a template to refer back to when you’ve completed your project and want to review your marketing goals.