More and more companies are realizing the benefits of a strategic content creation approach to marketing and sales – creating content to support their interactions with customers.
But what is a creative brief, and how is it different from a traditional business plan?
Key differences between a strategic content strategy and a business plan
Firstly, while a business plan sets out the details of a proposed venture or business, a creative brief articulates the thinking behind the strategy.
Secondly, a business plan usually covers the financials – showing how much investment is required and how much return the business can expect once operational.
While a brief might detail the projected revenue and profit for a particular project, it is more focused on the strategic thinking – the aims and objectives that the project will be used to achieve.
Thirdly, a business plan is usually compiled using quantitative data – such as supported by financial analysis or surveys commissioned from independent research groups.
A creative brief is usually compiled from both qualitative and quantitative data – marketing analytics and customer research combined with detailed analysis of competitive benchmarking.
Why should you write a creative brief?
Many large enterprises have marketing and communications officers – with specific titles such as marketing director or communications manager.
These are relatively recent appointments – with the first marketing managers being appointed around the turn of the century.
So, what was previously seen as a ‘supporting role’ is now becoming a central responsibility – helping to oversee the creation and delivery of content to grow and maintain an organization’s or brand’s reputation.
This is a role that is still extremely unfamiliar to many – especially those entering the field for the first time – and one that can often feel very pressured.
It can be hard to find the right words to describe this newfound responsibility – to synthesize a complex set of ideas into a concise and easily understood strategy.
The creation of a creative brief is a critical step in the process of developing a content strategy, and it is also one of the most cumbersome steps.
It is a very qualitative step – one that can often feel very ‘ad hoc’.
The more you know about your target audience, competitor analysis, and the type of content that you will be able to produce the better – making the task of writing a creative brief easier.
What should you include in your creative brief?
As part of your content strategy, you will need to think about what type of content you will produce – and when.
Your brief should include the following:
- The purpose of the content
- The audience for which it is intended (including any key demographic information required)
- The structure and approach to take (including an outline of the writing schedule)
- The type of content to produce (including any limitations – such as not being able to use certain logos or not being able to use vulgar language)
- The marketing and communications channels through which the content will be disseminated (including social media platforms)
- Key performance indicators to gauge the success of your strategy (including any metrics that you can measure)
- The proposed budget for the project (including personnel and any other relevant costs)
- A review of alternative strategy material, if necessary (e.g., competitor analysis)
When should you write your creative brief?
You should write your creative brief as soon as possible – but, since it is a fluid document, this is more of a suggestion than a requirement.
The earlier you start writing, the less stressed you will feel as you go through the process – especially if you work in collaboration with someone who is skilled in the written word.
You should write your creative brief well before you begin to compile your content strategy – especially if you are taking a somewhat haphazard approach to content production.
If you are starting from scratch, you should write a very short introductory section – containing only the most basic information – and then use this as a springboard for more detailed content.
How long should your creative brief be?
As with any other critical aspect of your content strategy, you will need to consider how long your creative brief should be – and, again, this is a question of flexibility.
If you have an extremely detailed and complicated document to compile, it might be a good idea to break it down into shorter documents – each focusing on a section of the larger brief.
You could, for example, produce a shorter document containing only the key marketing statistics, consumer surveys, and customer analysis.
The earlier you start, the less stressed you will feel as you progress – and the more satisfied you will be with the end result.
What skills do I need to write a creative brief?
As was mentioned above, writing a creative brief is extremely subjective.
That is because there is no right or wrong answer in writing a creative brief – only your perception of what is correct.
If you are looking to enter the field with little or no experience, it might be a good idea to start by taking online courses – or even an online degree – in communications or marketing.
The better your grasp of the English language, the better – as you will be able to frame your arguments clearly and express yourself succinctly.