How to brief a content marketing project
Published 26th August 2016
Content marketing projects are undertaken for a wide range of reasons, with differing motivations, expected benefits and outcomes. Due to this, a solid, clear brief is essential to ensure that each party knows exactly what’s expected of them from the outset, and that the final product realises the benefits it was intended to. This guide will walk you through the crucial elements to communicate in a project brief, as well as how to set manageable success metrics, and the key management points to consider in order to get the best ROI from your content investment.
Contemplate your motive
Why do you want to engage in a content marketing project? It may seem like a silly question to pose - and commonly the answer will be more revenue from referred sign-ups - but if you understand and think clearly about the specific motive, it may be that there’s a more suitable marketing tactic. Or it may be that better understanding your motive can help define the most suitable specific objectives for the content project.
As an example, perhaps you’ve taken a bit of a beating in affiliate-bashing Google updates in the past and your motive for engaging in a content project is a desire to improve brand identity; or maybe you have a burning desire to overtake a couple of competitors on a keyword, and analysis indicates you need a fresh burst of quality links to the ranking landing page. Perhaps you’re fattening up a business for sale and want a better natural link balance in your backlink make-up.
Whatever the motive for your piece, the more open it is in the brief, the greater potential for success the project will have. You don’t necessarily have to communicate it fully to the agent you’re briefing, but the more clarity you can provide on aims, the more likely it becomes that the vendor will be able to deliver.
Most importantly, with a real understanding of your core motive, you can define the most critical success metrics or objectives for the project. Once identified, these must be both defined and communicated clearly in the brief.
Objectives are the measurable goals for your content project that will help you evaluate its ROI potential. Here’s the thing… as an agency, almost every brief we get has single layered and conflicting objectives. Such as:
“We want links and shares…
“We want to increase conversions and
time on content…”
With the two above examples, the first set of objectives relate to off-site actions or outcomes (with the results evident on external sites such as social media platforms) and the second to on-site actions or outcomes (evident in the performance of your own site). Whilst any of these outcomes in isolation can be positive,attempting to combine two off-site or onsite objectives can lead to a piece of content falling flat on both fronts. Our motives for linking to a piece of content (without offer of compensation), whether with or without outreach, are often quite different to our motives for sharing content. Whilst there can often be some overlap between content that gets linked to or shared from, there’s often a large disparity in what success looks like for these metrics – that’s before we even get as far as thinking about the difference between what gets shared on Twitter versus what works on Facebook!
We’d suggest choosing one primaryoff-site metric and one primary on-site and discussing with your agency if they naturally follow each other. Trying to fulfil too many objectives in one piece of content can often lead to a piece that does everything in mediocrity. Of course, you can also have secondary and tertiary success metrics that relate and complement the primary and - as always - some form of SMART framework which anyone in marketing is familiar with.
Project management points
If you’re hoping for a sensible proposal at a scale that can satisfy your objectives, without over-reaching on concept and budget, it’s crucial to provide as much detail as possible at point of brief. Think of all of the details that can assist your chosen agency with project management and successful delivery, such as timings, dependencies and what you can bring to the table in terms of materials and skills.
You should consider the following:
- Key sign-offs
Work back from your ideal go-live date, which is often critical and immutable with sport betting if your content is event-driven.
What can you provide, such as digital assets and photography you already own the rights to? Are there any brand marks and colour palettes that must be adhered to? If there is a strict look and feel policy for your branded content, make sure this is known at the brief stage to avoid any time-wasting on idea generation that is way off-brand.
- Examples you like
Digital marketing is a relatively newvprofession, with more buzzwords than a hipster in a job interview. What you may refer to as an “interactive infographic,” could in fact be something a little different to your agency understanding. If you have some strong feelings on the style or type of content project you feel could really help meet your objectives, be sure to provide some good examples of such pieces to your agency.
Be clear about your available budget from the outset for the best chance of getting concept ideas that will have maximum ROI potential for that budget. Being coy or unclear about budget at the outset will inhibit an agency’s ability to provide concepts. The key to briefing an agency all lies in an open and honest relationship; with clear and defined project objectives. If your agency has a good track record and creative capability (and your budget level is right for them) there’s no reason why your projectshouldn’t be a success if you communicate points above in your brief.