How to write an engaging brief to get the best from creative people

Whether it is for your business stationary, a print advert or creative for a whole media campaign, SMEs need creative services, and getting the best results starts with a clear and inspiring brief from you, the brand owner.
There are hundreds of talented agencies and freelance creative people offering these services but the challenge isn’t so much picking who to work with as it is ensuring that YOU understand the message you want to convey and that you work with your chosen people to deliver a tight brief.
The Nurture Network’s on-demand network of freelance affordable creatives and specialists is our response to making all this easier for SMEs, but to get the best results the brand owner must take responsibility for a clear and inspiring brief. Here are our tips to do that:
1.  Develop your campaign objectives
You are the only person who can make the final decision about what the single most important message you need to say is. You also know your brand and customer better than anyone else, and are the only person that knows what action you want from your customers in response to this piece of activity you are briefing for.
Deciding these things before briefing is critical because you can’t say everything in your advert – so you have to make difficult decisions about what is most important – before you spend time briefing other people.
2. Set the scene
Have a section in your brief that succinctly explains the context of your brand or business and the campaign or activity you will use their work for. By outlining the wider business challenge and explaining why this piece of their work is required your creative people will make design considerations with this context in mind – making your brief more effective.
3. Inspire your people
Designers are creative people, so you want to inspire them! They know a lot about what looks good, and what is effective – so share the challenge with them, inspire them with your brand and avoid being too prescriptive.
4. Get your own ideas out on the table at the start
There is nothing that creative people hate more than doing some work and then someone feeding back that it wasn’t what they had in mind! It is absolutely right that you should have clear ideas of what you want – but discuss this at the start – not after the first round of work
A great way to do this is to provide a examples of previous activity and what you like and dislike about it. You can also show a few concepts or ideas you’ve seen elsewhere to highlight what you do and don’t have in mind. Your designer may disagree, but they can have this discussion up front with you, or respond with a number of options including ones that incorporate your ideas.
5. Be clear on what is required
Regardless of the activity or campaign that you are doing there will be mandatory requirements that your creative people really need to know. If it is an advert, supply the size and format required at the briefing stage; if it is for a brand logo tell them where it will be used (online, print etc) so they know if it needs to be a certain layout.
6. Agree the cost and the deliverables together
At the outset discuss costs and agree what you can realistically achieve within your budget. Ensure you also discuss the full scope and application of the project as well, as most designers will have relationships with other suppliers which can save you time and money.
7. Deadlines and revisions
Every good creative team will understand your time requirements and will be as flexible as they can to meet deadlines and work through any last minute changes. But to get the best from them, be clear at the briefing stage; agree when you want a first draft, what you want to see at this stage, and what the final go live date is.
Then, as the brand owner, your focus should be on managing the feedback process with other key parties in your team – making sure enough time is allocated to consult them and feedback in good time. This makes the time consuming process of making amendments more efficient, and prevents last minute changes by someone in the team with a big opinion.
Written by Christina Richardson, a business marketing specialist and founder of The Nurture Network: The on-demand marketing department for ambitious start-ups, and entrepreneurial SMEs  – bringing great marketing people into your team just when you need them.