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How To Create an Effective Product Brief for Your Business

Learn how to create an effective product brief for your business with our step‑by‑step guide. Streamline your product development process and maximize success.

Writing product briefs may seem like an unnecessary step in a product launch, but a well-executed product brief can be the sole difference between a successful product launch and an unsuccessful product launch.

Ensuring that all of your colleagues, partners and potential clients are on the same page is imperative when selling a product, regardless of how far along the sales process you are and a product briefing can really help to solidify this.

This shared document can play a big part in solid communication across the team with all the details in one place. It can also be the foundation for a smooth-running sales launch and will bring the team confidence when prepping for presentations. Product briefs are not necessarily just used with physical products, but with anything that is being presented, sold or pitched.

In some instances, a product brief can even be helpful if the product is already created, as it can be a user-friendly tool for new starters to get to grips with the product scope of your business or company.

Taking the time to create product briefs can lead to an overall more cohesive company and workforce with a better understanding of the services and products being sold.

What is a product brief?

A product brief is a short document that can be considered the single source of truth for all of the team about a specific product. The product brief plainly identifies some of the essential components of the product, including information about the goals, key details and specifications, as well as the scope and direction of the product.

Typically, the product brief (also often referred to more colloquially as a product spec) is created during the initial stages of product development by the product development team.

So, what is the purpose of a product brief?

Well, making a product brief creates a foolproof page that contains all key product details so that the whole, broad team is on the same page as everyone is using one document as a definitive, informative guide that provides all the need-to-know details about the product.

A product brief is a great way to create an effective roadmap for your team to reference, full of all your products information and therefore helping to prevent any future confusion, as everyone is getting their information from the same document.

The product brief is generally used by the product manager and the product team, but the end result is usually useful to everyone involved in the process of product building. The marketing team and designers may find the document useful, as well as other product managers and product development teams, as a way of understanding the larger scope of products within the business.

A well-crafted product brief can also provide clarity and diminish any future uncertainty leading to higher productivity - a team that knows exactly what they're doing is a happier, more efficient team overall!

Understand your business needs

Writing a product brief can often result in a mishmash of information that is difficult to organize. Focusing on a few key components of product creation can help to build a comprehensive product brief template that is easy to follow. There are some key details that you want to include as an overarching rule for not only every product brief, but every brief in general.

Define your business objectives

To begin with, it could be useful to outline the stakeholder's initial product vision, influencing creativity from the team that is working on the brief. Establishing an objective or goal creates a solid foundation for the team to build up from.

This could include the purpose of the product itself - why is it being created? Is there a problem that this product will solve?

During this section of the product brief you may want to identify metrics that can help you to build success criteria on exactly how this product will help you to achieve your goal.

Within this section, there should be a focus on the product's absolute, must-have requirements. These are non-negotiable factors that the product must include. This could include the product purpose, benefits and functionality. A short, definitive explanation on why these are non-negotiable is also beneficial and could prevent further back and forth across the team.

Identify your target audience

Including the target audience ensures that the end result of the product development process will be a product that fits the criteria or solves the problem you were looking to find a solution for. A helpful way to truly understand your audience is by creating some ideal customer persona profiles and categorizing your potential customer by their individual needs and what they might want from the product.

Analyze your competitors

This is a good way to gauge the kind of success metrics you should be expecting, as well as understand an idea of what the overall product's quality should be.

Including other competitor products in your product brief can also help the sales teams understand how to create a distinguished product that is unlike anything else on the market. During this research period, you may want to look at other reviews or user problems/feedback about similar products to the one you plan to develop.

Outline your budget and timeline

This is a key component in ensuring that the development process is smooth sailing. Including the budget and the estimated time required is an essential component in your product brief. This section provides your colleagues with an understanding of exactly how much time they will have and when the next steps will begin.

When building your timeline you may want to factor in release dates, beta testing phases and a schedule for implementation. Outlining this at an early stage in the product development process will give the team an understanding of the urgency required. However, it is also important not to have a deadline that is too concrete - allow for some flexibility to reduce stress for the team and yourself.

Define your product

Once the general vision of the product has been established in the product brief, there are a few other key details that you may want to include. Create pillars for the team to understand what your product will look like; including these in the product brief will mean you are all on the same page and have a similar vision in mind!

However, these details can often change throughout the process as new ideas or problems may arise. Therefore, the beginning of the product brief may look dramatically different from the final brief when the product is nearing the release stage.

Describe your product features

A detailed description of product features crafts an understanding of the important elements of this product.

Here, you can inspire some creativity throughout your team by including some notes on the product design concept, the product release and all key information on the product.

Although the product brief is created in the early stages of product design and a lot of information has not been concretely formed yet, outlining a rough overview of the product as a whole can give the team a general idea on the future vision of the product.

It is likely that this section will be the longest part of your product brief so some important things you might want to ask yourself while writing might be - how will these features benefit the user? How does each feature contribute to the overall goal and purpose of the product?

Identify any outgoing questions

If there are any key questions or issues surrounding the creation of your product, it is crucial that you identify them somewhere within the product brief. Directing this to specific members of the team that could offer insight may also be helpful, as these questions can sometimes go amiss and cause issues further on in the process.

Outline the benefits of your product

Create an understanding of why someone would want the product you are creating. Are there benefits of your product that exceed those that the competitors can offer? Does the product challenge complex ideas and create new solutions for problems?

Knowing that your brief will change is an important part of writing a product brief. If successful, this product brief could be used as a future product brief template for any future product releases, so it is important that you craft them carefully and ensure they are effective by treating it as a changeable guide rather than a stagnant document that cannot be changed or altered.

Review and revise your product brief

As the product process continues, any key features or specifications of the product that crop up should also be included in the product brief. This may include details like the pricing model you will use. Discussing pricing options is a big part of the product development process and should be evaluated regularly throughout the product process.

Review which elements are no longer relevant and remove these irrelevant pieces of information from the product brief. Ensure that you add in any additional features, pieces of information or facts that are important to the overall product, keeping the brief up to date with any changes you make.

Incorporate feedback from stakeholders

Once the product brief is written, the product manager will likely share it throughout the team and any feedback from stakeholders or across the board should be factored into the brief. The product brief should hold all of the most up-to-date, relevant information so any feedback you receive should be taken into account. Any further pieces of information the team requires should also be taken into account and added into the brief itself.

How to write a product brief

There are a few important things to bear in mind in terms of how you are writing a product brief. It is important to consider the language you are using, the layout you decide to abide by and your verbiage in order to ensure that your product brief is as successful, clear and as effective as possible.

Use clear language

First of all, you want to ensure that the language you use is clear and concise by limiting the amount of jargon. Of course, it is important that anyone reading the document has as much information as possible, but cluttering it with confusing terms can lead to confusion further down the line, especially for the non technical team members. Using precise language is the easiest way to keep everyone on the same page.

Use images

Images can be an extremely helpful visual aid within product briefs. Using images where possible helps the team to understand your vision and can be used to emphasize any important elements you want to highlight. These images could be direct photographs, tables, graphs or charts - breaking up text during documents is always the best way to pack a punch and really drive home a point to the reader.

Be brief and concise

To put it simply - try to keep it as brief as possible. The more information you pile into the product brief, the less likely it is that the team will register and retain the important stuff. Keep your sentences short and to the point. Avoid over-informing them, keeping the product brief purely about the product itself rather than veering off topic or going into a ramble about a different matter.

Treat it as a guide

As you dive into your product brief, it is important that you keep the goal of the product brief in the back of your mind: to keep your team informed with one easy-to-read, helpful document. Therefore, you should ensure that in this one, single document you have managed to preemptively answer any questions that may arise from your team by providing them with a concise, easy-to-read list of all up to date information about the product.

Create a product brief template

After you have created your first successful brief, you can then use this as a product brief template for any further product creation processes. This will speed up the process for any future product briefs you do for the future as it will ensure you include all information that is relevant throughout the product development process. Once you have the initial product brief template, any others that you do will be a breeze.

Ensure your product brief always aligns with your business

Be consistent by keeping the tone of the product brief in line with the tone of your overall business. A product brief is an easy way to stay prepared and reduce the amount of back and forth, when done correctly.

Use precise language, a clear format and include all the information you have at that present time. Creating a briefing for each product is also a great way to reflect on past product releases, to evaluate the product development process and to reflect back on if you need a refresher on the specifics of that product.

Along with a product brief, you may want to learn more about creating an effective project brief—an even broader roadmap on how to complete your overall project and goals. Other things to consider when selling a product could be advertising, packaging or even your market needs, all of which you can learn more about with Mailchimp, your reliable guide to all things business related.

Discover the best way to elevate your business by revising your growth strategy and learning all the tips and tricks of the trade with our handy guides and wide range of services, including creative, insights and analytical tools.

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