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"Turns out, that's just how Bill Blake works. Heavy preparation, thoughtful analysis, low-key sell and outstanding follow-through."

James Miklandric
Retired President
Hornell Speedglas

industrial trade show display posters copy and art direction samples


Copywriting Creative Brief Form

Spend one hour now to save
dozens of hours later

By providing clear direction when you hire an industrial copywriter, you save time by eliminating demoralizing and costly false starts. Hopefully, you will be able to provide at least 80% to 90% of the following checklist items before you have your technical-industrial copywriter begin any project.

(You can download this B2B Copywriting Creative Brief Form as a Microsoft Word document and then simply type in your answers and forward them to me.)

All products fall into three categories: existing products, newly-improved products, and truly new products (or technologies or services). The last category, truly new, requires the most work, so let us focus on it, although much of what follows applies to the other categories as well.

1) Who is the market?

Rather than immediately focus on the product, I start by asking, “Who is the audience? Who are the prospects?” Once I have answers, I can filter all subsequent product information through the eyes of its intended buyer.

A) List the markets/industries for this product/service:

B) List prospect job titles. If titles vary by industry, indicate job title/industry:

C) If your product is a complex sale requiring purchasers to have a team of decision-makers, list all the job titles of the influencers on the buying team:

D) What are the key motivators and pain points for this audience? Higher profits? Lower costs? Regulatory compliance? Increased safety? Improved quality? Time savings? Please list, then prioritize:

E) In your opinion, which one or two trade magazines are the most highly regarded by this market? Which websites or blogs?

F) Any additional insights into the minds of prospective buyers?

2) How will this product be sold?

A) Through distribution?
B) Company stores?
C) Manufacturer's reps?
D) Direct?
E) Online?
F) A combination of channels? List the sales channels your company is pursuing:

3) What materials can the copywriter study?

Even truly new products have documents that can be shared with a copywriter. For example:

A) Many companies require their engineers to fill out a form that is basically a justification for the development of the new product. These engineering proposals are a great starting point for the copywriter; please forward.

B) Amateur photos of prototypes. Especially useful are photos that show close-ups of features. Even better is loaning a prototype to me, even for just a day or two.

C) Engineering drawings, particularly if the product or technological process can’t be photographed.

D) Complete product specifications.

E) Internal memos, presentations, PowerPoints, etc. about the product.

F) Business and marketing plans, if available. Plus any competitive analysis.

G) The following materials may be available for existing or newly-improved products, but they are probably not yet available for truly-new products. (For the truly-new product, are there previous, relevant products that would have some of these materials?)

Ads and direct mail
Press Kits
Technical papers
Distributor/Channel/Internal Education materials
Customer presentation/proposal materials
Email and online campaigns
Competitors: ads, brochures, websites, etc.

When in doubt, forward the information to me; too much information is better than not enough.

4) Interview the Product

A) Give a one sentence description of the product (or service or technology):

B) What are its applications? In which industries?

C) What problems does the product solve?

D) Briefly, how does the product work?

E) Are there competing technologies? Please list them and their advantages and disadvantages.

F) Make a complete list of features and their end-user benefits. If you need more space, simply add rows. After you have listed all possible features and their benefits, numerically rank then using the Priority column.

Features End-User Benefits Priority Exclusive?

G) Which features are exclusive? Please indicate in the Exclusive column.

H) Which features are demonstrably better than any competitors’? Are there objective ways to demonstrate your superiority? Test data? User surveys? Testimonials? (Generalizations won’t help; specifics are needed here!)

I) If the product is truly on-par with the competition, how does your company make the buying experience better?
- Easier to make an informed decision?
- Better distribution?
- Faster delivery?
- Free installation?
- Better technical support?
- Better warranty?
- Better relationships with end-user communities?
- Simple return policy?
- Customer support?
- Testimonials of customer satisfaction?
List all that apply, then prioritize.

J) Any salient advantages in the following categories? Please explain.
- Reliability
- Efficiency
- Economy

K) How will the product be positioned in the marketplace?

L) Offering details: please list the models, sizes, material choices, compatibilities, and other options key to a buyer’s initial considerations.

5) What’s the goal of this project?

A) Prioritize each of the following (but leave blank if not applicable):

___ Generate inquiries
___ Generate (immediate) sales
___ Generate traffic to distributors
___ Generate traffic to website (e.g., to do a specific activity there)
___ Answer inquiries
___ Qualify prospects
___ Communicate product information
___ Build brand recognition and preference
___ Build company image

B) What will be the Call To Action? Be specific, if possible.

C) The most important point: if you could choose just one thing for the reader to remember from this communications project, what would it be?

6) What's the format of this project?

A) What's the format?

B) How much copy do you need? (List the number of pages or the number of words.)

C) Is it a multi-faceted campaign? For example, a new product launch with brochure, ad, landing page? If so, list the components of the campaign that will need copy:

D) Or, are you looking at something simpler, e.g., a direct mailer and its landing page? What format(s) did you envision — size, general appearance, etc. — and why:

7) Deadlines

A) The ultimate deadline, e.g., product launch, trade show, and so on:

B) Intermediate deadlines, if known; e.g., design, production, delivery:

Please email or fax (206-309-0680) this completed form to me. Hardcopy materials should be delivered to: William C. Blake, 6985 Saint Helena Rd, Santa Rosa, CA 95404-9696.