Step 1 — The brief

When a copywriting job comes in, the first thing we do is create a brief.

If you’ve worked agency before, you know that some briefs should really be called lengthies or novels or endless streams of written diarrhea that leave you more clueless than you were when you were actually clueless.

We respect the word brief. We’re known for that.

We keep it short to give the creative process room to breathe. We give our writers what they absolutely need to know and let them come up with the rest. And we hire writers that can.

Here’s what our brief looks like:

What are we doing?

Be specific. Mention the client, the type of work and the reason for doing it.

Example: We’re writing new web copy for Bobby’s Bits because their organic search rankings are poor.

What do we want people to do?

This is an action.

Example: Get a quote; Call in; Vote for the candidate; Start following us.

Who are we targeting?

Describe the target audience in as much detail as you have. Personify them if you can.

Example: Bill purchases tractors for his company. He’s been buying working vehicles for 20+ years. He knows what’s important and what’s not, and he can smell bullshit a mile away. Quality is more important to him than price. If he sees the long-term value is something premium, he’ll find the money for it. He’s married. He has grown children, none of whom work in the business.

How will we benefit our client?

This is a feeling.

Example: They’ll feel confident in their purchase; They’ll feel smart for saving so much money; They’ll feel more connected than they’ve ever felt; They’ll feel like they’re in the future; They’ll feel desirable; They’ll feel young again; They’ll feel invincible; They’ll feel heard.

What does our target think now?

One sentence to describe their mental/emotional relationship with the company, product or service.

Example: I’ve never heard of this; These guys do this really well, but nothing else; These guys do everything, but don’t do anything really well; These guys are a blast to work with.

What do we want our target to think?

One sentence to describe the mental/emotional relationship we want to create.

Example: I love this brand; I could see myself wearing/using that; These guys make me laugh every time; I’ll go to them first; They’re my new fallback.

Why should our target believe us?

These are proof points — reasons for people to think what we want them to think and do what we want them to do. List them all out, even the little ones.

Additional notes

Anything else we need to know; Any attachments and where to find them; Thought starters.

Deadline

Include delivery deadline and internal deadlines.