In the past I’ve worked with many clients who have found the briefing process a bit daunting because they don’t know what to expect – usually because they’re used to doing their own marketing and this is the first time they’ve had to brief anyone.
I like to make my briefing process as simple and pain-free as possible – my objective is purely to get all the information from you in order to write what you need, so the more relaxed I can make you feel, the more open you’ll want to be, and therefore the better the final result.
And I actually have 3 ways that I tend to obtain my briefing information:
Option 1. You send me a formal brief
This usually happens when I’m working with an agency who’s used to briefing creatives on a project. Often they have a template, which they’ll complete with all the requirements. It’s sent through along with various supporting literature, such as PDFs, brochures, case studies, battlecards, white papers, sales decks…
If I’m super lucky, I’ll even get a recording of an interview that they’ve performed with the client.
I’ll then read through everything and if I have any questions I’ll shout.
Option 2. You send me an overview of the project requirements
Most projects start off with an email to outline what the project is and the key messages to focus on. Depending on the piece, this could be a simple paragraph or list of bullet points…
The smallest brief I ever received was a single keyword that the client wanted to highlight on their website through a blog.
I’ll probably be shot by other copywriters for saying that I’m happy to accept briefs like this, but the reality is that if I understand the subject matter, I understand the client, and I understand the purpose of the piece, I have everything I need…
And if I have any questions, I’ll shout.
Option 3. I’ll interview you
This sounds a lot scarier than it really is, I promise.
I carry out interviews either in person (with cake!) or over the phone. Ahead of the interview I’ll send through a list of question that I want to ask you so you have plenty of time to think about what you might like to say.
We’ll then run through the questions one by one until I have everything I need. This usually takes 20-60 minutes.
The important thing during the interview is that you feel comfortable being honest and sharing as much detail as possible. Sometimes, I might ask quite negative questions, like how a competitor is better than you, or reasons why projects have failed, or areas that you really don’t want to venture into because they’re a company weakness…
The reason I might ask these is purely to get a better understanding of the context and the space you play in. None of this information would ever make it into the final copy and would be treated with the strictest confidence (plus I’ve signed NDAs with pretty much every client, which essentially gives them the right to shoot me if I breathe a word about their business).
Then at the end of the briefing, if you’ve mentioned any interesting documents (like in option 1) I’ll ask you to send them across. Otherwise, we’re done!