Copywriting brief – how to prepare guidelines for copy texts?

Content marketing
Marcin CichockiMarcin Cichocki
Published: 16.12.2020
5 minute

Why and how to prepare a brief for a website text commissioner? Writing texts without a brief is like navigating a new city without a map and signposts. You seemingly are going somewhere, but you don’t know if it’s in the right direction. And just as it’s a good idea to take a map with you when you set out on a journey, it’s a good idea to send a brief to a text commissioner to fill out before you get down to writing a text.

A brief is a document that contains standard questions asked to the principal. These questions help clarify the subject of the assignment and the client’s expectations, and enable the copywriter to create useful and effective texts.

6 advantages of a brief

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  1. You facilitate your communication with the client
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  3. You increase your credibility and build a professional image
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  5. You help the customer determine what content they need
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  7. You significantly reduce the risk of not getting your content right for the customer’s tastes and needs
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  9. You are able to write better content
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  11. You limit the time needed for research, improvisation and guesswork
  12. .

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Accurately specifying the client’s needs is a fundamental process of working on text.

However, in order to adequately fulfill its function, you are not the only one who must prepare to gather the information you will need for the creative process. The client also needs to take a solid approach to the subject and complete the document thoroughly.

In my experience, on average, one out of every three clients completes the brief piecemeal.

I then ask such a client to revisit the questions in the document and provide me with accurate and reliable information.

Not everyone realizes the importance of the brief, so it’s a good idea to educate clients and let them know why it’s so important for both you and them. Reliable completion of the brief is in the interest of both parties.

What should the ideal brief be?

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In an ideal world, the ideal brief should be as comprehensive as possible. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world, and clients are afraid of briefs that are several pages long – or simply don’t have the time to fill them out.

Therefore, the length of the brief must be reasonably balanced – enough so that the questions it contains provide you with the information you need, while at the same time the length of the document is not overly cumbersome for the principals.

Of course, also keep in mind that you can always ask the client for additional questions and expand on certain threads, so the brief should focus on the most important aspects of the assignment.

Besides, the design of the brief should vary depending on the subject of the assignment.

A different brief should be used for creative copy, and another for SEO copywriting or an assignment for expert texts.

Create your own unique brief bearing your name or corporate identity.

How to divide a brief

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Divide the document into 3 main sections:

Company information

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  • Customer contact information,
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  • Industry and scope of business,
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  • Strengths and weaknesses of the company,
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  • Product or service portfolio,
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  • Information about the target customer group,
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  • Identification of competitors,
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  • What differentiates the customer from the competition,
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Content information

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  • Type of content (e.g.: product or category description, content for a website, blog article, back-end text or expert text),
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  • Title and subject of the text,
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  • The required level of content and specialization of the text,
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  • Form of addressing the content audience (formal or direct),
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  • Language and style of communication (casual, formal, serious),
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  • The purpose of the text (to promote the company, service or product; to sell; to inform the audience, etc.),
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  • Content volume (number of characters with spaces or A4 pages),
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  • Keywords that should be included in the content,
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  • Questions that should be addressed in the content,
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  • Questions that should not be addressed in the content,
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  • Example texts that should be used as a reference,
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  • Preferred content formatting style,
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  • Application of internal or external linking and the type of anchors to use,
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See also: What to blog about? ➡️ 9 topic sources and 34 article ideas

Source Materials

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  • Marketing materials about your company, product or service to help create content (graphic materials, text, video)
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  • Previous texts published as part of content marketing campaigns that fulfilled the intended purpose.
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With such a completed brief, it would be difficult to create a text that does not meet the client’s expectations.

However, if you are worried that such a voluminous document will panic your clients, you can also use a short form of brief, which consists of just a few questions..

Just remember that it will not provide you with as much relevant information as a long brief.

Short brief and the 5 most important questions

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  1. Type of content – what are we writing
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  3. The purpose of the text – what we are writing for
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  5. Communication style of content – how we write
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  7. Target audience – who we are writing to
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  9. The main idea of the text – what we want to convey
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A well-drafted brief is your business card and also the key to writing good content that will satisfy the customer.

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Marcin Cichocki

Założyciel i CEO agencji contentowej Kuźnia Treści. Jego teksty trafiały między innymi na łamy: Newsweeka, Wyborczej, Forbesa, Business Insidera, Rzeczpospolitej i portalu Komputer Świat.

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