Tools for marketers

How to write a creative brief

Giving good direction to writers for content marketing

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The creative brief lays the foundation for your project. It acts as a map for your writer/creative team on how to best reach the project’s goals.  You can produce creative briefs for overall marketing initiatives, advertising campaigns, just about anything that requires more than one person to be on the same page.

Today, we are going to touch base on creative briefs made specifically for writers. Think creative briefs for projects like blog posts, articles, podcasts and white papers.

First, take the time to think about what your end goal is with this project and write a creative brief that ensures both your time and the writer’s time (which they are billing you for) is not wasted.

Creative briefs can make or break whether your project is successful, so take the time to think through it and be strategic about what you write. Often times, going through the exercise of writing a creative brief can help button up your strategy and strengthen your initiatives overall.

Most creative briefs include:

  1. A brand statement (include your brand voice/tone),

  2. An overview of the project’s background and objectives,

  3. The target audience for the project,

  4. Your company’s chief competitors,

  5. Why the audience should choose your brand

    (Your brand’s value and market positioning),

  6. Communication channels that the project will run on,

  7. Whether or not you offer a value add, and what it will be, and

  8. A call to action.

Click here for a simple creative brief template in Google Docs.

Here are more details on each element of the creative brief:

1. A brand/mission statement

This is a one to two sentence summary of the aims and values of your organization. Include your brand’s voice/tone, so the writer can mirror it. The tone will shape the style of writing while the voice will determine what words the writer uses.

Examples of great mission statements: LinkedIn: “To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.” Twitter: “To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.”

2. A brief overview of the project’s background and objectives

What is your objective with this project? What do you expect to gain out of it? Is it to generate more leads via SEO? Is it to sell more product via affiliate links? Objectives should be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. Is this project one piece of a larger marketing initiative? How will these pieces complement one another?

3. The target audience for the project

The simplest way to define your target audience:

Demographic (gender, age, geographic location)
What pain points do they struggle with?
What is their income?
Do they have children?
Are they married?
What career paths have they traveled?

You can literally answer these questions in only a few short sentences. Some require a simple yes or no answer.

But, if you really want to hit a home run with your campaigns, creating a buyer persona is key. A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your most ideal customer. Most times, it’s best to create two to three personas.

By providing a writer with a buyer persona as part of the creative brief, you are answering the following questions:

  • Who is your target audience? (outline above)

  • What pain points does the audience struggle with?

  • Where is the audience from?

  • What is holding the audience back from making a purchase?

  • What is the average income of the audience?

  • What goals are pushing the audience to make a purchase?

4. Your company’s chief competitors

Who are you competing with for market share/reader eyeballs? A good writer will take the information you give them and do a little research on each of your competitors. What do they have/do that you don’t? Do they blog more frequently? Are they better at working with SEO? Are they on more accurate social channels for their audiences?

If you have this information, share it.

5. Why should the audience choose your brand?

(Your brand’s value and market positioning)

One of the most important parts to include in the creative brief is why the customer should choose your brand over your competitors. That is why we ask you to outline your chief competitors above.

What perceptions of your brand may the audience already have? What do you offer differently than your competitors? If you don’t have a strong brand image, what image would you like to build?

6. Communication channels that the project will run on

Writing for a white paper is a lot different than writing for a social channel. What the audience is looking for and the amount of time they will spend on your piece varies depending on your channel. So, give your writer a heads up.

Does the piece need to be research heavy? Does it need to be shorter than 800 words?

7. Are you offering a value add? If so, what is it?

A writer should also know whether or not you provide any type of value ad to your audience. Is there a newsletter they can sign up for? A free e-book they can download? Consumers love free stuff, especially if it’s packed with valuable information that simplifies the purchasing decision or makes their lives easier.

Although the sole focus of the writing project may not have anything to do with the value ad you offer, a writer can still strategically integrate it into the piece without it overshadowing the primary objective the content.

8. Call-to-action

Writers need to know what the primary goal of the content piece is. If you don’t share the objective, then it becomes nearly impossible for the writer to craft an engaging call to action (CTA).

A lot of brands think the CTA should always be at the end of the content piece. But what if the audience doesn’t finish the entire article? A smart writer will study your intended CTA and incorporate it various times throughout the content to ensure the audience is provided with multiple opportunities to follow it.

The true value of a creative brief should never be overlooked. A writer worth partnering with will always ask for one, and may even provide you with their own outline so you can simply fill in your answers. If you don’t know the answers, a great writer will help you study your audience and objective. Once you have a detailed creative brief, you can often use it from one content project to the next by making simple tweaks.

Need a template? Click here for a simple creative brief template in Google Docs.