The creative brief: Your map to a successful content journey
Setting off on an adventure without plans or a map can be thrilling. You can let the wind take you where it will. Unfortunately, using that approach for a content marketing project can lead to disaster. Establishing your goals and sharing key information with the content development team before starting is critical to delivering the best results, on time, and on budget.
A creative brief can offer a clear map to the project. By defining essential project elements in a creative brief, the team requesting the content can eliminate guesswork, enhance the efficiency of execution, and ultimately save money by avoiding false starts and excessive revisions.
What should a creative brief contain? Here’s a list of a few key elements:
1. Audience: Identifying your intended audience is crucial to developing the right content. The more you can narrow down the audience, the more precisely the content team can hone the messaging.
- Are you trying to reach new prospects or existing customers?
- Do you want to target large enterprises or small and medium-sized businesses?
- Should the deliverable be geared toward executives, line-of-business managers, IT administrators, or even a particular industry?
2. Business goals: Defining your goals makes it easier to develop the content you need. For example, what do you hope to accomplish with this asset? Do you want to educate your audience, establish thought leadership, and facilitate industry discussions? Are you hoping to promote a new offering, convert prospects to customers, or encourage existing customers to upgrade products?
3. Type of deliverable and length: Producing a 10-page technical white paper requires a different approach than a short interactive infographic. Pinpointing your goals, audience, and budget should help you narrow down your options.
4. Product, solution, or service: If your goal is to promote a particular product, don’t forget to tell the content team something about that product. Include:
- The product’s correct name
- The product’s relationship to other products you sell
- Competitive positioning
- Key features and capabilities
5. Messaging or approved content: Provide any messaging or approved content that you’ve already developed for the product or even for the overarching product portfolio. If you don’t yet have any messaging, take a step back before digging into a specific asset. Clarifying the top ideas that you want to convey—before starting on a specific asset—can help you establish a framework that you can reuse for multiple assets.
6. Challenges and benefits: Some of the more in-depth creative briefs include background information that can be used in the asset. For example, you might provide a bullet list of the pressing challenges that are facing audience members and the benefits that customers can expect from the solution.
7. Graphics: Will illustrations, images, charts, or other design elements be important in conveying your message? In the creative brief:
- Note how many of these design elements you would like to include.
- Specify who will be responsible for creating them.
- Describe or provide any existing design elements that you’d like to use.
8. Call to action: Knowing in advance whether you want the audience to read a white paper or sign up for a demo can affect the content leading up to that call to action.
- What do you want your audience to do once they’ve seen or read your asset? In some cases, you might simply want to refer them to a web site or an email address.
- Do you want to guide them to another asset within an integrated campaign, leading them along the path of the buyer’s journey?
9. Due date: Don’t forget to let the content team know when you need the new asset. Will someone need the asset for an upcoming event or product launch? Setting a precise (and reasonable) due date will enable the content development team to set a schedule that provides sufficient time for content development and accommodates reviews.
The format of your creative brief can vary. At TDA Group, we work with clients who provide Word-based templates with form fields as well as other clients who share less formal documents. Whatever format you choose, generating the brief and delivering it to the content team prior to the kickoff call can go a long way toward ensuring an efficient process and producing a successful asset.
Learn how we can help your content marketing projects get completed rapidly and within budget? Let’s talk.