Why briefs should not be brief

Good work comes from good briefs – and vice versa. In fact, when something fails you can bet your bottom dollar that it’s got nothing to do with failing on creative solutions, but it’s because the brief hasn’t been what it should have been. A good brief is essential to success, whether you are writing yourself or getting someone else to do it for you. Here’s eleven questions that, when answered, will tell you what needs to be said. You’ll only have to figure out how to say it.

The secret weapon to success – the briefing template



  • The rationale. Why you want to do this, where it fits into what else you’re doing and what’s happening in the market.
  • The profit margin. How much you can afford to pay to get a sale or enquiry?
  • How is this sold now? What is the process?
  • Any examples or news about previous efforts – with results.
  • Anything you think you’re doing, right or wrong.
  • Any thoughts or ideas you have.


Product or service

  • Please describe the product or service. Try to explain what it does for the prospect as opposed to what it is.
  • Highlight anything unique and any ways in which it is different, better or worse than what your competitors or alternatives offer.



  • Please describe the perfect prospect. If there is more than one person involved in making the decision say who they are.
  • Also, describe their motivations, especially any emotional ones like “I don’t want to make a mistake” or “I’d like to be a hero”.
  • What relationship do they have with you?
  • Have they heard from you before?
  • What was their reaction, if any?



  • What the proposition is and details of any offer/incentive
  • What we want them to know and feel



  • What do you want them to do?
  • How close to a sale do you want to get them? Weak enquiry or strong? Free trial? See a demonstration?


Why act?

  • Why should they reply? Please list as many reasons as possible, appealing to emotion and reason
  • Why not
  • What objections could they raise? And how would you respond to them?


Creative Requirements

  • Please include any restrictions (e.g. black and white, no images, personalisation etc)
  • If it is a mailing, they should refer to each item in the pack.
  • Also, please include details of any copy variations required (if targeting different segments) and practical things, like tel. numbers and ref codes.


Other information

Please add:

  • Relevant research
  • Testimonials
  • Sales material
  • Media comment
  • Independent statistics or research
  • Anything which helps in understanding the product or the audience
  • Deadlines
  • Ideas
  • First Draft (copy and layout):
  • Final artwork



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s