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Content marketing has become a powerful way for businesses to find audiences. Instead of wasting money on traditional advertising businesses are focusing on providing value-added content to engage shoppers online. According to 2017 statistics from the Content Marketing Institute, 89 percent of business-to-business (B2B) marketers use content marketing. And 52 percent of the remaining marketers plan to start within 12 months. Many marketers are now outsourcing the creative process to freelancers. But, you need a strong content marketing brief for your writers to work from. Without it there’s a high risk that the work you get won’t live up to your expectations.

What Are Content Marketing Briefs?

Most businesses recognize the importance of content marketing. But for small businesses or companies with modest marketing teams, creating and maintaining a content marketing system is challenging. Of the B2B companies that haven’t started with content marketing, 67 percent cite a small team as the main reason. Only four percent consider content marketing unimportant. Outsourcing content creation is an obvious solution, but when you do this, it’s essential to give the content creators proper guidance in the form of a content marketing brief. Through this comprehensive document it’s possible for you to clearly and concisely convey exactly what kind of content you want, which demographic you want to target, and what you expect your campaign to achieve.

Why Are Content Marketing Briefs Important?

Simply put, content marketing briefs are important because without them your creative team won’t know what they need to do. Providing writers with insufficient information at the start of the creative process has the potential to cause problems:

Inefficient production:

Without clear guidance, writers find it more difficult to produce work quickly. It’s more likely you’ll need to request revisions, and that increases the likelihood of missing deadlines.

Increased costs:

If you’re constantly demanding revisions to get the kind of content you need, you will incur additional costs. Those costs may be extra payments to writers and editors to cover the workload, or may be the drain on your time as you have to keep checking edits.

Poor results:

If the content you end up with doesn’t fit your content marketing plans, your results suffer. If your writers understand your audience and know what tone of voice to use, they have a much better chance of producing targeted content that speaks directly to your core demographic.

How Do You Create a Content Marketing Brief?

Your content marketing brief is your blueprint for the creative team, containing all of the essential information for generating value-added content that accurately reflects your brand and campaign goals. When creating your brief, add as much information as possible to ensure everyone is on the right page.

Provide Company Details

Every company has a voice, and your writer needs to know what yours is. Dedicate the first section of the brief to outlining your brand, including your core values and aspirations. For example, if confronting environmental issues is a driving force for your company, it’s worth letting your writers know.

Define an Objective

Ask yourself, “What do I want my campaign to achieve?” Improving sales may appear to be an obvious answer, but only 53 percent of business-to-consumer marketers define sales as a main goal, while 74 percent want to improve brand awareness. Other goals may include improving engagement with consumers on social media, gathering data and sales leads, or breaking ground in a new marketplace. If your writers know what you hope your campaign will achieve, it’s easier for them to tackle your subject matter in a way that gets the best results.

Pick Your Audience

Your writers need a good understanding of the audience they’re writing for if they’re going to produce engaging content. To put them on the right track, mine your databases of existing customers, and look for recurring trends. Are your customers usually male or female? Married or single? By identifying common traits, it’s possible to create personas that represent your “average” customer. For example, a simple persona might be:

  • John Smith, a middle-aged businessman
  • Has a mortgage
  • Is married with two children
  • Enjoys sports
  • Has a moderate understanding of electronics

Create multiple personas based on your needs, and use them to help your writers visualize who they’re talking to.

Select the Right Tone

Pop culture references and memes aren’t the best way to appeal to middle-aged professionals looking for an analysis of the stock market, but they’re the perfect way to make a connection with the trendy social media crowd. Similarly, technical articles with heavy use of jargon aren’t going to connect with elderly readers who don’t understand computers, while stuffy, boardroom talk about business is going to leave a younger audience stifling yawns. Picking the right tone is usually obvious once you’ve defined your target audience, but make a point of reiterating your expectations to the writers.

Establish Key Points

What do you want the audience to take away from your content? What is the main point you need your writers to make? Are there supporting points that help to emphasize your knowledge of the subject, and that help the audience to understand why your company is uniquely positioned to meet their needs?

It’s a good idea to put yourself in the shoes of your customers and ask the question, “What do I need to know to resolve this problem?” The answer forms the framework your writers use to produce content that hits all the key points.

Outline the Format

Don’t forget the nuts and bolts. Make sure your creative team knows how long your articles should be, how many images you need, whether or not you want to use infographics, and what types of headers and sub-sections you require. Bear in mind that longer, more-complex work usually comes at a higher cost when outsourcing.

The Recap in Brief: Mapping Out Success

Great content marketing campaigns require great content. That content must precisely target your key demographic, provide value, promote your brand, and develop engagement so that readers return to you the next time they need insight. The best content requires forward planning — a road map for your creative team to follow in order to reach your chosen destination. A well-written content marketing brief is a valuable tool, and creating one should be a priority for any marketing campaign, especially if you intend to outsource the content creation.