The Ultimate Guide to Creating an Effective Content Brief

Content marketing has become an important part of marketing strategy for businesses. It helps companies connect to their customers, find new ones and achieve their marketing goals. 

The audience, on the other hand, expects consistency from you. They expect content that is unique, engaging and useful. In other words, readers want to read what answers their questions.

So, naturally, the first question to ask yourself publishing any content is, “How can I provide the answers the readers are looking for?”

The answer to this question can be tricky, especially if you are outsourcing your content production.

You need a well-curated content brief that can help give your writers all they need to write high-quality content.

A content brief is a set of rules and requirements that guides you and your content production team to achieve a specified goal when creating content. An effective content brief will contain everything from who your audience is, style guides, SEO keywords, content goals, and deadlines. It communicates expectations, saves your resources, and helps you produce quality content.

An effective content brief should be, well, brief. You don’t want to go into so much detail that you end up hindering the creativity of your content creator. Your brief needs to be direct and comprehensible to your content creators.

Depending on your content needs and business goals, you can create a reusable content brief. You need to have your content brief ready before contacting your creators; this article will guide you in creating an effective content brief.

Define your audience and buyer persona

You need to communicate who you intend to reach with your content to your content creator. You brief should be able to communicate:

  1. The pain points of your audience and buyer persona
  2. The interests and concerns of your audience
  3. The age, location, and other demographics of your audience 

Defining your audience will help your content creator conduct research, analyze competitors, and create content that your buyer personas will find valuable.

A defined audience will also tell the content creator whether they are writing for experts or beginners, as it will help to know when to focus on introductory ideas and when not to. Depending on the audience, a content brief will guide a content creator on how in-depth the content needs to be.

You should also mention the stage the audience is at on your customer’s journey. Your buyer persona could hate to be bombarded with content asking them to sign up for an email newsletter when they already did that two months ago. Audiences at different funnel and sale stages require different content.

Spell Out your Goals and Vision

After defining your audience, tell your content creator what you intend to achieve with your content. If your goal is to increase customer engagement, your content creator will craft content with a call to action that promotes engagement, like living a comment or sharing your content. And if your goal is to build authority, your content creator will produce content that shows expertise and is backed by research and deep analysis.

Your brief shouldn’t just communicate your goals. You want the content creator to create content that resonates with what your company stands for and what differentiates you from competitors and copycats. The content needs to be meaningful and have ideals representing your business DNA.

An Effective Content Brief Gives Clear Direction

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This section of your content brief gives your content creator clear instructions on what is expected of them. Appropriately directing your content producers will help them create content that aligns with your vision and save them from going off-topic. These instructions can be;

  • Style Guides: The style guide must be consistent with your branding needs. It can be basic requirements like fonts and font size to the tone that your audience expects from you. 
  • Competition: You can provide your creator with content from your competitors and highlight how unique you want your content, what angles to tackle better and what to avoid altogether. 
  • Deadline: In this section, you tell your content creator when they need to deliver the content and how you can monitor their progress. You should set a deadline for content outline submission, first draft, and final draft. You can direct your creators to work in an environment that lets your monitor progress in real-time.
  • Tone: Your content needs to have a tone. The tone will direct your audience on how they’ll digest your information. A content tone can be considerate and audience first, playful with dry humor, and genuinely authentic. Every brand has a different tone and voice; make sure your content creator adheres to your brand’s.
  • Content Formant: Specify the format in which you want the content to be delivered. Do you want infographics, interactive, video, film, etc.? Have your content creator understand the format you want to present the content in, and share a link to other content for your brand that they can emulate.

Communicate Specific Elements

  • Length: Specifying the length of the content is essential for two main reasons. It will help you budget and decide how much you will pay your creator. A 500-word blog post or a  3-minute short film will cost less than a 3,000-word article and half an hour film. Lengthier content is also vital for your SEO campaigns as search engine favor long content that go in-depth on subject matters.
  • Keywords: Keywords are the terms your audience is searching for, and they’re the backbone of any content marketing strategy. Without keywords, your video and blog content can’t be found by customers. Specifying your primary and secondary keywords and how you’d like them incorporated into your content can be helpful, especially if your content creator is an SEO novice.
  • Research: You don’t want your content creator basing their research on reading your competitor’s content. You can provide your writer with resources they can derive inspiration from and authoritative sources they can link to and reference. You can even take it further and provide them with hyperlink phrase anchors. Providing research guidelines can help a content creator who isn’t an expert in your niche. 
  • Call to Action: Without a call to action, there is no way you will keep an audience around. Specify your call to action guidelines to your content creators and where you want them placed in the content.  You can have your content creator sprinkle CTAs strategically in different content parts or reserve it for the last section. 
  • SEO Structure: Your content needs to be optimized to make it to the SERPs. You should specify the structure you want in your brief. These can be the number of h2 and h3 tags you want, the type of images you want, metatags to use, and so forth. You can even provide an outline they can model.
  • The Dos and Don’ts: It doesn’t hurt to have specified rules in your brief. After all, you’re running a business, and the content produced complements your business. Tell your content creators what they aren’t supposed to do (e.g., Don’t link to competitors’ websites) and what they must do (e.g., Do – include three images minimum).

Importance of content brief

The value an effective content brief can add to your content marketing strategy is immeasurable. 

  • It will help your writers create content that doesn’t leave out vital information by giving them a clear direction. 
  • It will prevent you from the hassle of having to return submitted content for revision or turning down content entirely. 
  • A content brief will also help you stay within a budget as payments are stipulated well before any work begins.
  • A content brief streamlines your projects and acts as a reference point for all your content creators, ultimately aligning them with your project and business goals.