The importance of a clear brief and cast-iron deadlines

If there’s one thing we can all learn from the scheduling issues surrounding the staging of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, it’s that having a clear brief and cast-iron deadlines in place from the offset is crucial to a project’s overall success. That’s a universal truth that’s just as applicable to copywriting projects as it is to hosting major global sporting events.

Commercial interests will always be at the heart of any scheduling decision. In Fifa’s case, there’s the small matter of appeasing various governing bodies, such as UEFA in Europe, as well as the myriad domestic football associations, clubs and television rights holders. For a small business, the equation might be less complicated but it is no less important.

In a SME’s case, the commercial pressures are normally fairly cut and dry: to garner maximum exposure and impact from the marketing budget. For that reason, deadlines are normally fairly tight, which in turn requires in-depth discussions, and a rapid grasp of the brief at the initial planning stage, from any copywriter worth their salt.

So to avoid any own goals next time you’re planning on calling in a copywriter (preferably Simon Grant Comms!) to give your marketing content the once over, you might like to bear these handy hints in mind.

#1 Preparation, preparation, preparation

Whether you’re planning to stage a summer sporting event, or looking to overhaul your corporate website, it’s a great idea to carry out some thorough planning and research initially. That way, you’ll avoid the embarrassment of having to move your event to the cooler Winter desert months or arrive with little more than scant details for your copywriter to take away.

At Simon Grant Comms, we like to think that we’re extremely adept at fathoming out the key elements of a project. We’ve been able to deliver several projects on the basis of hastily scribbled bullet points or Post-Its. However, like anything in life, the more you put in, the more you get back.

In other words, the clearer the brief and explanation you can give at the outset of the project, the better chance your copywriter will have to deliver the end product you desire. Ambiguous, confused, brief…um, briefs…are far likelier to result in cross purposes (as your trusty copywriter diligently tries to fill in any blanks with their own interpretations) and re-written material.

The upshot? Your deadlines get squeezed ever longer and you might incur additional costs depending on how generous your copywriter is with their time. The bottom line is if you want a quick turnaround, and the result you’ve envisioned first time around, it’s surely worth investing some time in a coherent brief.

#2 Once more with feeling

By now, you’ve hopefully thoroughly researched the market, identified your nearest competitors, know what it is you’d like your copy to convey and ultimately what call to action it should evoke in your target audience. You’ll know what your objectives are and what tone of voice you’d like your content to adopt. Will it be authoritative and informative? Informal and friendly? Technical or accessible?

These are the types of questions that Simon Grant Comms would ask at the initial stages of your project. It is the copywriter’s job to fathom, from everything that you bring to the table, what you require. What you think you need and what you might be better to have are two entirely different things. Sometimes it’s worth considering alternative ideas if your copywriter senses a different approach could elicit better results.

Far better to engage a copywriter who is willing to question ideas and approaches, with a professional’s critical eye, than for them to blindly follow you into the metaphorical ‘desert heat’ of a misguided idea. Once again though, the clearer and more up front you can be about your end goals (and sometimes, crucially, what you don’t want) the better informed your copywriter will be about the task at hand.

Essentially, when dealing with Simon Grant Comms we would ensure that you, and we, would leave our initial discussions with a crystal clear idea of what the copy requirements are, what audience it’s intended for, to what purpose, essential messaging elements, and a realistic notion of the deliverables.

#3 Time is of the essence

One of the first questions that any freelance copywriter will inevitably ask is: ‘what is your deadline?’ Believe it or not, it’s far preferable to have a clear timescale than to leave it open ended. By the nature of our work, copywriters are often juggling several projects simultaneously and will therefore want to gauge how much time they can dedicate to your project.

The good thing about engaging Simon Grant Comms to work on your marketing content is that we’ll always endeavour to fit you in and deliver well before your deadline wherever possible. So don’t be afraid to tell us up front when you need your copy by. Most of the time we can meet, or even surpass, your expectations.

Before you do though, please take a realistic look at your timescales beforehand. Often the copy element of a marketing campaign can be somewhat of an afterthought. The website design is ready, the brochure or leaflet visuals are laid out, but the wording isn’t right. It needs to be written and fast. It will be. But go easy on your copywriter if they’re the last piece of the jigsaw. Words are important – they take time!

It’s a great idea to set realistic deadlines and that is something that Simon Grant Comms can help you with during early discussions about your project. After all, nobody wants to face the ignominy of having to completely change the delivery date of a project. Eh Sepp?!

Contact Simon Grant Comms today for more information or to arrange a consultation.