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How to Write A Brief

August 3, 2021
How to write a brief

As a content marketing agency, we’ve seen our fair share of bad briefs. From that lone sentence on an otherwise empty page to sprawling documents filled with confused bullet points. In short, there’s either too much of the wrong information or too little of the right! 

The fact of the matter is that a well constructed brief will save you time and money in the long run (especially if you’re being billed by the hour!). Moreover, it will result in high-quality content that hits the spot every time. So, what are the key elements of that elusive perfect brief?

The Title

We all know the old proverb ‘you can’t build a house on sand’, well, the same can be said when it comes to building marketing briefs!

If you’re briefing in an article, a clear, direct title up top can do a lot of the heavy lifting early on. It allows the writer to understand the topic and the angle from the get-go. 

The Target Audience 

You’d be surprised how many briefs fail to mention who they’re attempting to reach.

Drill down into the specifics of your target audience and make sure to articulate this within the brief. Additionally, offer details of age, demographic and even potential characteristics or attitudes of your target audience.

A good trick is to offer up a few cultural reference points such as music, movies or links. After all, this will help the person you engage to better understand the style and tone you’re after. 

The Format

Defining the format of your content is a big help because the person you engage knows what you expect from the finished piece.

Whether it’s a product page, Q & A article, listicle, or flowing copy with headings (like this one) make sure to pick a format that works for you and your goals.

Tone and Style

Depending on the client or project, you may be working with a style guide (sometimes called a brand bible) or other marketing assets. Make these available to those you’re briefing. In the end, the more your team understands the context of the project, the better. 

The Word Count 

It’s the bane of every writer’s life. Contrary to popular belief, writers don’t like to be told to ‘go wild with it’. Writers need firm parameters so they know how to shape the piece – and also estimate how long it will take to write.

Therefore, a considered word count is the best way to achieve refined, quality content within the time allotted.

And that, of course, brings us neatly onto the thorn in most marketers’ sides…

The Deadline

Set a clear deadline. Seriously. It’s vital to let the person you’re working with know exactly what is required of them and by when.

Our top tip? Leave some wiggle room so any notes, amendments or changes can be implemented before your actual deadline.

Background Info

Would you go on a first date and forget to introduce yourself? Of course not! Well, the same is true when briefing new writers, designers or marketers who may not be familiar with your brand, or organisation.

Even if it feels obvious, the more information you can give them about who you are, what you do, and what your mission is, the bigger chance they will have of being able to meet your vision. 

Most importantly, once you’ve built your watertight new brief, create a template to save time and effort in the future! 

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