A content brief provides a high-level overview of a marketing project for your internal team or external freelancers. Using content briefs can help your marketing team stay on track, on target, and on message. However, sometimes content brief templates don't include the right level of detail to ensure quality content creation.
Every business is unique, so to avoid common content marketing mistakes, there are a few tips and tricks to creating the right content brief for your organization.
What is a Content Brief?
A content brief is a document that compiles the information needed to create and execute a piece of content.
Content briefs should include editorial direction, content strategy, and SEO strategy so that every piece of content created meets expectations and drives marketing results. The best content briefs should strike a balance between specific goals and requirements while offering the content creator room to be, ahem, creative.
What Does A Content Brief Include?
Your content brief template should reflect the specific needs of your organization and marketing team. However, it should also include a few critical pieces of information, at a minimum.
A content brief should include:
SEO keywords and requirements
Editorial guidelines and instruction
Content description and word count, i.e., is it a blog post, social media post, or long-form article?
These key pieces of information should be the bare minimum included and generally provide enough information for a content creator to pull something together.
Why The Bare Minimum Isn't Enough
However, depending on the amount of editing, rewriting, and review you want to undertake or even have time for, you may want to get more specific.
For example, suppose you send a content brief for a blog post to two creators. The content brief includes the topic, word count, and two SEO keywords. In that case, you could end up with vastly different results. You could get a very high-level explanation of the topic for a general audience. Or you could get a deep dive on a specific aspect of the subject geared toward an audience of experts.
What's going wrong?
Common Content Marketing Mistakes
It can be very easy to think that you are providing excellent and detailed direction to your content marketing team. However, your team isn't in your head, so you may not get what you're looking for if it's not on paper.
Here are a few common content marketing mistakes and how to avoid them with a detailed content brief template.
You Forget Your Audience
Any piece of content marketing that you are creating should be made with your target audience or marketing persona in mind. Otherwise, you either create content for everyone (read: no one). Or you are drilling down into details so much that your target audience dwindles to nearly nothing.
Review your website and advertising analytics to see whom your message is reaching. Research your audience and identify which subsets of them are your target market. Think about their needs, wants, and goals and describe them in the content brief so that you can start creating content directed to them.
You Focus on a Single Form of Content
It can be easy to focus on the words of a blog post. It takes time to fine-tune your take on the topic, build an outline of what you want to include, and nitpick the SEO keywords to use. However, that blog post is only part of your content marketing strategy. A good blog post should also include at least one image, diagram, or infographic. There should be supporting content to promote the post on social media. And don't forget about the power of video!
Your content brief needs to include instructions on what to create and how to write about a topic. However, you should also have information on the types of supporting content that will accompany it and help promote it. You might be amazed at the ideas that come back from the content creator!
You're Neglecting Evergreen Content
Evergreen content, or content that is always relevant, has a long lifespan and continued value for your audience. It is part of what makes your organization a trusted source of information.
Constantly chasing the new or hunting for viral content will not only interest your audience for a limited time, but it will burn out your team. Instead, opt for a combination of evergreen and topical content. Evergreen content will keep people coming back to your site and showcase your knowledge and expertise on a subject. And shorter-lived content will pique your audience's interest and make your perspective on a current trend, development, or issue interesting.
In your content brief, note whether the content is meant to be evergreen or more timely. It will help keep information that can make the content seem dated (such as a specific event, holiday, or date) out of content that you plan to use for years to come.
You're Not Considering CTAs
Calls to Action (CTAs) are the action you want your audience or prospective customer to take after consuming a piece of content. Your CTA may direct them to a new page, product or sign them up for a newsletter. Every blog post, email, newsletter, or section of your website should include a clear Call to Action.
After all, what is the point of engaging your audience with high-quality content? Your business won't be successful based solely on people reading your blog posts and website content. The content is there to gain trust and credibility so that when they are ready to make a purchase, they think of you. And the CTA is an invitation to take that next step.
Your content brief should include information around the CTA you plan to use for that content. You may have different products, services, or offerings. So, directing your content creator toward a specific goal or desired action can help them set up the content for that CTA.
Create a Content Brief That Returns Winning Content Every Time
So, how can your content brief be more specific and avoid these common pitfalls? As we've mentioned, your content brief will be unique to your organization and team. Take time to consider all of the information a content creator might need to do their best work.
Rather than thinking about the bare minimum to include in the content brief, consider every piece of the final product. Here are a few more details that can help you put together a content brief that gets winning content every time:
Title and subtitle, and preferably request at least three versions to choose from
Meta tags for title and description
Target audience or marketing persona
Artwork to accompany the content
Social media channels that will promote the content
Topical or evergreen content
Links to related content
Call to Action
While it can be more work at the outset to pull this information together, it will result in higher quality content. No mindreading required!