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How to Make a Killer Content Brief

By September 30, 2018 September 6th, 2019 No Comments
How to Make a Killer Content Brief

Everything else being equal, the tool that makes the biggest difference when it comes to creating consistently good content is a solid Content Brief. Without a great Content Brief to reference, even the most professional writers and editors will only deliver acceptable work close to 20% of the time. Conversely, with a great Content Brief, a content development team can deliver quality, targeted content closer to 80% of the time.

The Content Brief document establishes everything writers and editors need to know about the project and detailed project requirements, giving the best writers a “chance” to hit the mark.

The reason I say “chance” to hit the mark, is that even with a perfect Content Brief, professional writers and editors will still need a lot of feedback to learn the finer details of their client’s style, taste and requirements.

Another reason the Content Brief is so important is that it allows the writers and editors to get close enough to maintain a healthy win/loss ratio (80% or better), requiring the client to provide less frequent feedback.

When clients need to get heavily involved in major edits, it often takes more time than starting over on a piece of content from scratch. When this happens, the client, the writers and editors alike can become very frustrated trying to hit what feels like a moving target.

When your content creation team submits work that is unacceptable for any reason, it’s equally as important to challenge the Content Brief as it is to challenge the team who wasn’t able to deliver according to the Content Brief.

A Content Brief includes all the details that writers need to know in order to aim the content at the target audience. Because the understanding of the audience’s needs evolve over time, so does the Content Brief. It should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis in order to make sure all the information is usable and current. Remember that perfecting the Content Brief is essentially perfecting the content itself. The following information is the core of the Content Brief, designed to capture valuable details that can be expanded on over time. The idea is to start with the known metrics, and add to them as needed.

Anatomy of a Killer Content Brief:

  • Project Overview
    • Description
    • Type of content (articles, blogs, length, style)
    • Quantity and frequency of content needed
  • Style / Voice
    • Blogger: Fun, popular, friendly and passionate
    • Influencer: Confident, wise, friendly and trustworthy
    • Expert: Confident, authoritative, trustworthy, knowledgeable
    • Researcher: Investigative, thorough, 360 degree, unbiased
    • Reporter: Interesting, catchy, sensational, believable
    • Copywriter: Evocative, over-the-top, cliff hangers, calls-to-action
  • Target Audience
    • Age Range:
    • Gender Ratio:
    • Income Level:
    • Average Credit Scores:
    • Married or Single:
    • Percentage Children at Home:
    • Home Ownership Percentage
    • Pain Points:
    • Avatar Example 1
    • Avatar Example 2
    • Avatar Example 3
    • Avatar Example 4
  • Special Applications
    • Should the content be for general newsletter style sending in any particular order or should it have a first time visitor workflow that creates more of a relationship with the readers in an ordered sequence?
    • Should the content be designed to build trust, hype-engagement, or specific actions that are worth noting?
  • Monetization
  • Will there be advertising on the published pages? Banner ads, Google Adsense or Other forms?
  • Should the content help support the sale of any particular products or offers that the writers and editors should cover in-depth or in any particular frequency?
  • Topics / Categories
  • References & Links
  • Example Competitors
  • Special Instructions and Rules

The Content Ready team spends several hours developing a Content Brief for every project. After the Content Brief is created, 2-3 writers are tasked with delivering an article following the details of the Content Brief. If the writers are very solid, the first few articles will typically reveal weakness in the Brief that need to be addressed. After a few rounds of retrospective review and iteration of the Content Brief, the Content Manager can assign more titles to the team with a far better chance of success.

~John Valenty