Though many businesses understand the value of content marketing, few are actually doing it. Why? Because companies big and small are finding themselves up against a common sticking point: lack of time.
Content creation takes valuable resources away from business-critical tasks. And because it can take some months (perhaps even years!) to see returns on your hard work, content marketing can often fall by the wayside.
One common remedy to this is to outsource content marketing to freelancers or copywriting services. But if you’re planning on doing so, it’s suuuuuper important that you remember one crucial thing…
….brief well, or expect disappointing results.
First up, what exactly is content marketing?
To put it plainly, content marketing is the use of content (in many forms) to build and maintain a relationship with your target audience.
Content marketing can be used throughout the funnel, from acquisition (aka generating leads), right through to conversion (ergo: getting your user to do/buy/subscribe/act). It’s generally one segment of a much larger marketing strategy, though in some cases, businesses will concentrate all their marketing spend onto launching an absolutely killer content marketing strategy.
The types of content that you might create as part of your content marketing strategy vary from business to business. Typically, they will be a nice blend of blog posts, videos, infographics, e-books, and other material that helps to communicate your value prop.
But that doesn’t mean that content marketing is about you. Oh no no.
The number one rule of content marketing is that it will only work if it has genuine value for your reader.
Write rubbish content that no-one’s looking for, and you’ll just be flushing money down the drain.
SO, before you begin even thinking about outsourcing your content, you should first make sure that you know exactly what your readers want.
How to create a killer content marketing brief
Get [virtually] up close and personal with your readers
Do you already have customers or users? Great.
That means you can use whichever analytics software you’ve set up to better understand your audience.
To use Google Analytics as an example, you can dive into the Audience and Behavior sections to get to know your site visitors in more detail.
From here you will get to learn more about your audience’s age, gender, interests and so much more.
Spend as much time as possible delving into these details. They are solid gold! And they’ll help to make sure that you’re actually embarking on a content creation process that is meaningful and useful for the people you want to attract.
Don’t have an existing audience? No problem.
There are plenty of online resources that can plug the gap. From the free:
To paid market research:
By using a mix of these data sources, you’ll be well on your way to not just producing content that will grow your traffic, but with qualified leads with high conversion intent.
That means you won’t just get any old Tom, Dick and Harry consuming the content you put out in the world, but that those Toms, Dicks, and Harrys will be precisely the target audience that are likely to become future customers.
Millions of blog posts are being written every single day (check out how many were written today here). If your content is going to be able to compete, you need to put in this groundwork up front.
Outsource your content creation
There are so many reasons why you might consider outsourcing your content creation, but the most common are either:
- You don’t have the time or resources to give your content marketing strategy the attention it deserves
- You don’t have the necessary skills in house.
To dwell on that second point a little…
Copywriting and content marketing is a specialist skill. Being able to speak a language fluently doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to write well. There are theories on how to write content that’s optimized for conversion and organic search, and if you’re missing out these crucial elements from your work, you’re setting yourself up to fail.
That’s why brands all over the world opt to work with outsourced copywriting services like Scribly.io.
Our number one priority is to support businesses with all the copy they need to scale, whatever that might mean for you.
So whether that’s rocket launching your content machine, or rapidly iterating on landing pages to help you deliver on campaigns, our team of expert writers will step in to help you nail it.
BUT. And it’s a big but.
You’ll only get the outcomes you’re hoping for if you brief each and every copy project well.
Though copywriting services like Scribly.io will bring all their creative and strategic prowess to deliver on tasks, it’s so important that your expectations and key vision is clear to the writer before they start.
And that’s where the humble but mighty content marketing brief comes into its own.
This simple document is like the roadmap to success. It will provide the copywriter with all the context they need to be able to execute the project first time, without the need for lots of back and forth revisions.
What to include in a content brief
Ok so here’s where it gets a little murky.
There is, unfortunately, no one size fits all when it comes to how you brief. It’s very much dependent on your setup with the copywriting service that you outsource to.
For some, it might be fine to brief via email, for others you might prefer a call. And for some, as at Scribly.io, you may use a simple, templated online form.
However, one thing’s for sure. The core components of your content brief will be the same, no matter how you deliver it.
Let’s go through each of those components bit by bit.
This is where you clearly describe what your project is exactly.
If you’re a brand new customer of the copywriting service, then be sure to specify plenty of detail about your company, the industry you operate in, and what it is that sets you apart. This helps the copywriting service to understand clearly how to successfully communicate your story, and to make sure that the content that you’re outsourcing fits into your overall brand messaging.
In this part of the content brief, be specific on the ‘angle’ that you’d like the content to take. What should be in focus? Which perspective should the copy cater to?
For example, if you’d like an article about wedding photography, should it be written for people planning a wedding, or wedding photographers?
What you think is really clear may not be to a brand new set of eyes, so be sure to include all relevant detail here.
In this section, you should specify any goals of the content, and where it fits into your funnel. For example, is the purpose to acquire new users? Retain existing ones?
These points are really important to convey to make sure that the copy is tailored to your desired outcomes. You don’t need to give too much detail here, just a few lines will do.
So we’ve already discussed how important it is to only create content that has value to your target audience. So make sure that your copywriting service is clear on exactly who you are speaking to, and how you want to speak to them.
This step also helps to make sure that you’re actually critically analyzing whether you’re producing content that supports your overarching marketing strategy or not. You might think a topic is really interesting, but if you can’t align it with one of your personas, move on to the next topic that does.
Tone of voice / brand style
What does it mean to communicate on behalf of your brand? Don’t worry if you don’t have any specific materials or guidelines for this, just describing your tone of voice is perfectly fine.
Try to also give examples of content that’s in the style you’re aiming for (preferably yours, but other sources also work if you don’t have any).
For example, should the text be conversational? Academic? Cheeky? Serious? Do you prefer long prose or grease-slide copy?
Perhaps you don’t already have the answers to this, and if so, now’s the perfect time to figure it out! Get your key decision makers into a room and run a short and simple (but hyper-effective) 3 hour brand sprint.
Having a clear, distinct, and compelling tone of voice is one of the most important steps to building a content marketing strategy that will succeed. It gives you a blueprint to look back on and make sure that every, single content piece is on point – no matter what it is or where it’s destined to be published.
Be really clear with your copywriting service when the copy is due.
It helps to give yourself a week or so prior to the scheduled publish date to factor in any changes that you need to make to the first draft. And try to give the copywriters at least a few days to a week’s notice for any new project if possible.
Any relevant links
If there’s any relevant info or research that you’d like the content to include, specify it now.
With so much conflicting content online, there’s no guarantee that the copywriters will use the sources that you had in mind. Remember that search engines tailor results to different users, so even if your sources were the first ones in your search results, they may not be to the person writing your content.
This is not about doing the research for your copywriters, but making sure that you steer the ship in the direction you want it to go.
Above all, don’t stress
Though your content brief is really important, don’t get too hung up on making it perfect. A great copywriter will know how to work with the information you give them and to spin it into copy that’s on brand and hits your objectives.