There may be debate over who said, “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step”, but whoever it was would probably have appreciated the importance of taking that first step in the right direction: Creating A Creative Brief.
In terms of implementing an effective content marketing strategy, getting the brief right is arguably the single most important step in the whole process. Get it right and your content marketing plans run smoothly.
Get it wrong and the skilled writers you hired will be forced to rewrite the content they have worked hard to create to your specifications. Regardless of whether this work was a collection of Tweets and Facebook updates for your social media content or an in-depth piece of financial blogging, this will create an unexpected shift in workload which could well impact timescales and budget.
Goals Come Before Keywords
Marketers have long since learned that content is currency so spend your inbound marketing budget wisely. The whole point of content marketing is to make customers feel engaged with the marketer rather than interrupted by them. This means producing content that they want to read, which just happens to have a marketing link in it.
The better you can identify your goals and your target market, the better your writers will be able to tailor their work to make it fit both.
If there needs to be an underlying message to the content, essentially a subtle call-to-action, this needs to be skilfully woven in so that it reads as a natural part of the text rather than a sales plug. Calls to action often have more effect by being conveyed through overall tone and careful choice of words rather than through a more direct approach.
Be Clear About Constraints
The two most obvious constraints are keywords and deadlines; however it is sometimes also appropriate to request an upper word limit as well as a minimum word count.
When selecting keywords, it can help writers hugely to know how much flexibility they have with them, for example, can they use plurals or filler words to help content read more naturally? Similar comments apply to deadlines.
The more realistically they are set to begin with, the less chance there is of having problems with meeting them.
Finally, be aware that unless an upper word count is specified, many writers will assume that as long as they meet the minimum count, how much more they write is up to them.
If it’s important that an article can be read quickly, for example, if it’s intended for time-pressed commuters, then this must be made clear from the start.
Ensure Your Content Team Knows Your Brand
One of the advantages of building an on going relationship with a content provider is that you can build up their knowledge of your brand without continually having to explain it from scratch.
If you can’t articulate it, see my last blog by clicking here.
You will still need to ensure that they are kept up-to-date with any developments in your business or industry. When dealing with new writers, it’s crucial to be clear about any brand requirements, whether that’s capitals in the company name or competitors who must not be mentioned.
Be prepared to answer questions, even if that means you have to do some research internally yourself. When dealing with new writers, it’s crucial to be clear about any brand requirements, whether that’s capitals in the company name or competitors who must not be mentioned.
Be prepared to answer questions, even if that means you have to do some research internally yourself. As with my target market thoughts: The better your writing team understands your company, the better they will be able to present you to the public.
Your brief is the foundation for content marketing success. It needs to communicate your requirements clearly while leaving scope for the creativity of individual writers. It should clearly state your goals, target market, key requirements and deadlines.
Finally, please remember it is called brief for a reason. It means short and, by extension, to the point – don’t let your brief turn into a novel, even if it’s a really good one.
Author: Simon Ryan
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