I was recently asked by a colleague if I had examples of a content brief that I could share. Here's the copy of my email that I wrote responding to their question...
Email Transcript 6/3/17
Sorry for the delayed response! [redacted personal statement].
Now, a few notes on your content brief question.
I guess first off, there’s definitely some baseline structure for content brief’s, but in my experience I’ve taken it case by case. I typically will tailor the plan based upon my review of the company’s current situation, resource capabilities, and goals. Below, I've made some notes related to how I've approached a new engagement with a company, a basic structure, channel and format options, references, and final thoughts.
My process for coming into a new company
- Prepare initial 90-day plan based on my external analysis and research
- Content Audit
- Cadence and consistency
- Voice and tone
- Analysis of what’s “worked and not worked”
- Determine analytics baseline
- Repurpose existing content into new formats (there’s always low hanging fruit, just have to know where to look)
- Channels and format opportunities
- Revise 90-day plan and start on Content Brief / Strategy
Basic Content Brief Outline
Map this to broader marketing and company goals.
- Summary + Content mission statement
- Audience / personas outlined
- Categories / Topics / Keywords
- Major pieces of content for [year]
- Measurement and Optimization (Goals and Analytics)
- References + Supporting Documents
A few months ago at HackerOne, we brainstormed a lot of different channel options. We had some specific ones that were for our brand that aren't listed below but this list is pretty comprehensive. There will be new and emerging channels to always keep an eye on.
- Press release
- Media Alert
- Embargoed pitching
- Exclusive pitch
- Byline / Oped
- Social media (facebook, linkedin, twitters, slideshare, youtube)
- Content syndication
- Email - Drip/Nurture
- Email - Newsletter
- Paid search
- Display adverts
- Events - Speaking engagement
- Event - Sponsorship
- Event - Hosting
- Website (Banners, Customer updates, copy, resource updates, customer logos, etc.)
- In-product updates (feature banner updates)
- Sales enablement
- Guest blogging
- Linkedin Post
- Influencer Ads
- Direct mail
B2B Content Formats
- Photo / imagery
- White papers
- Long-form article
- Podcast / audio
- Tools / Guides / calculators
- One-page overviews
- AMA (Reddit)
- Graphic novels / games (graphic or immersive storytelling)
I’ve found these very useful:
- Good content is worth paying for. Copywriting is king (read the Gary Halbert Letters). Can't step over dollars to pick up pennies. Creating a content farm of links and more links will get you somewhere and can get traffic, but not long term growth.
- In B2B companies, it's not always about the almighty traffic and subsequent conversion funnel that follows. Emails are a huge currency in both consumer and b2b, however. If you have a sales force, content is often about supporting top of the funnel assets as well as filling in content across the buying cycle to help them close deals. It's hard to create a content plan that encompasses all those.
- A company should focus on different things depending on their size and strategy. In general, Jason Lemkin’s advice is great: start off growth hacking, then add demand gen, then brand content once you get to >$10M ARR (this is skewed to SAAS startups). Joel Gascoigne, Hiten Shah, Neil Patel, Rand Fishkin, Noah Kagan: all these guys have made millions of dollars with their content marketing. They’re experts. Brian Dean too, he's the backlinko seo guy based in Germany - he's on point.
Hope this was helpful. Feel free to reach out to discuss further.