https://www.zerys.com/solutions/zerys-for-agencies/content-agency-blog/hit-the-marketing-bullseye-with-targeted-buyer-personasContent as an industry has matured, with 89 percent of B2B marketers now using it as part of their marketing arsenal, according to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report. Whether your agency provides clients with a content marketing service using material created in-house, or you outsource the writing, developing a clear content creative brief is essential for your team to deliver quality work.
The Challenge Writers Face
Many company owners don’t fully understand content marketing, and have no idea how to craft an editorial calendar or provide input for blog topics. Often, agencies get a list of topics from a client and pass it on to writers, leaving them faced with instructions that are woefully inadequate. This isn’t a new problem, and it doesn’t apply only to writers: a 2013 survey of agency executives showed 80 percent of respondents reported getting client creative briefs that were either incomplete, inconsistent or lacking in focus.
Obtaining Clear Direction from a Client
So if your clients don’t know how to develop a content creative brief, and you aren’t completely familiar with the nuances of their business, how do you provide writers with the instruction and guidance they need to do a good job? Obtaining clear direction from a client can be done in various ways, such as:
- In-person interviews
- Email responses to a list of questions
- Development of standard form questions to answer for each blog
The critical component for an agency is how to translate the information into instructions that empower your writers to deliver their best work.
Getting the Basics Down
If it’s the first time delivering the content marketing service for a client make sure you get the basics of their business down, such as:
What products or services they offer:
If your writer gets an assignments to create content without clear details on what the client does for their customers, they could spend hours combing the client's website page by page trying to understand their offering without success. Your client might know exactly what their services are, but a writer unfamiliar with their company doesn't.
Their “take” on issues of interest to their industry:
It’s all very well to write about the home renovation market in 2017, for example, but what’s the agency client’s opinion on it? Do they subscribe to common thought processes surrounding the issue, such as remodeling is better than moving, or do they have a particular viewpoint that differentiates them from their competitors?
Your writers can do all the research in the world and might even have personal experience in the client’s industry, but if they don’t know how the client thinks they aren’t able to write effectively on their behalf.
Creating the Content Creative Brief
To avoid letting information get lost in translation, content marketing service agencies have a vital role to play in translating the client’s input into a viable creative brief. A well-written, comprehensive brief will facilitate communication at the beginning of the process and can help you to avoid the multiple revisions and corrections that stem from poor editorial planning. When you’re paying a writer by the hour, this could add up to quite a saving.
Here’s how to develop a good creative brief:
- Identify the main message the blog post needs to make and formulate it into a statement. This should address a specific pain point the client’s target customer experiences, with a single, specific solution. This message will inform the entire post and it isn’t always obvious from the topic, which is often keyword-based and high level. Avoid using primary messages that are sales-related, such as “we want users to choose our product.” These do nothing for content, and can in fact put readers off.
- Ask the client to explain their offered solution in three to four sentences. These will become the points to cover in the post, which support the main message. Use the “what, when, why, who, and how” formula to help guide the conversation.
- Get a list of benefits and disadvantages for the user, and make sure it isn’t one-sided. Few products are without any disadvantages, and presenting both sides of the argument creates a balanced, objective post that is more authoritative.
- Define the call to action. Whether the writer is required to include this in the copy or not, it helps tremendously for them to understand what the content is intended to achieve.
Once you have developed a complete, detailed brief for each component of your content marketing service, ask the client to provide feedback on whether the approach is appropriate and the message correct—before your writer starts clocking up time on the project. To learn more, check out our white paper, "What is Content Marketing? And Why It's So Important."