One of the more frustrating things we have to contend with here at Digital8 is the inconsistent way in which we receive client briefs. Some are vague, some are overly verbose. Some are technical and some are ELI5 applicable. My personal preference is to get vague briefs that are more like goals and then develop our own internal briefs. These are then approved by the client and converted into a scope. An example might be “I want a world class website that gets more leads. I am a lawyer.” We would then do the thinking as to how this is best accomplished, because quite frankly we are good at it, and definitely better than the average lawyer.
That being said, this doesn’t suit most clients, for whom the purchase of a brand new mobile app or website is a big ticket item intended to move the needle. You will want what you want. You will want control. Below are 5 tips to writing great briefs.
1. Leave room for creativity
As I alluded to before, web developers and digital marketers are almost surely going to know more about how to build a state of the art website and get it leads, therefore it is not a great idea to dictate to them in too much detail when it comes to things like design concepts and lead gen tactics. Focus your brief on details that the web developer is unlikely to have context on, like the nuances of your internal systems, brand voice, and personal preferences of key stakeholders. A very important piece of information to provide is information on your customer personas. Let us know who it is that you plan to sell to.
2. Keep it succinct
It is very tempting to write in verbose technical language, but at the end of the day someone has to read it, and you will most likely be paying for that time. The longer and harder to read your document is, the more it will cost you. If you are lucky enough to have an agency that doesn’t charge you in that manner at least consider that their time is valuable to them. If you can say something in 50 words instead of 200, please do so.
3. Be thorough
You need to include all the possible things that if missed in the detail will cause major blockers down the track. Don’t assume that just because you are dealing with a professional agency that they will be aware of every minor detail. While this is true of most things, I have had situations where clients have had unrealistic expectations in this regard. If you want your website leads to automatically feed into your CRM, now is the time to raise this.
4. Use visual assistance
Some people like to read, some like to see pictures. Tick both boxes by ensuring you sketch things up and use diagrams where called for. A 10 page written document is great, but breaking it up and giving visual representation of your words adds immense value to your document.
5. Don’t Be Precious
Web developers have likely seen dozens if not hundreds of briefs and know what a good one looks like. If you receive criticism or are asked to explain further, just accept it. If you have a specific idea for how you think your new website should function and your developer disagrees and has their own idea, really consider what you think you know and listen to them. You don’t want to be the person who had a terrible idea but wouldn’t listen. If you have a developer who is honest with you in that way, they are worth their weight in gold.