Ahhhh, the never-ending challenge of creating content. If you’ve signed up for this, for yourself or for your clients, you know the drill for Content Marketing. Strategy, plan, research, interview, execute, design, produce, optimize, publish and distribute—over and over again.
No big deal. Just about anyone can do it, right? Things get a bit more challenging when you’re in the weeds every day trying to create quality content that online visitors will find and recognize as a “cut above” the mountain of dreck that’s on the web.
Content Marketing now required.
Inbound software provider HubSpot recently released research that indicates more and more organizations are abandoning “old school” outbound marketing. In fact, Hubspot claims that over 80% of small businesses are involved in Content Marketing at some level. The reasons are simple:
- | Costs less
- | Delivers better value + results
- | Measurable in so many ways
- | Provides opportunity for permanency
- | Owned forever
The result is that more people and organizations are on the continual content creation bus. And they’re picking up speed on their journey.
No short cuts to get a repeatable, reliable outcome.
To get to that special place of quality content, you’re going to have to do things a bit differently than just copy/paste whatever’s trending in your Twitter stream. That’s right, like it or not, you better get a process in place to make this never-ending requirement a manageable task that delivers consistently good results.
Because without a repeatable, reliable process, it’s a virtual guarantee that your content will suck. Or worse, you’ll bail and simply stop trying to make anything relevant, valuable or worthy of sharing—with anybody.
That outcome is the fastest way to invisibility and irrelevance on the internet. Not a good choice.
Where to from here?
There’s no better place to start than with a Content Brief. What’s that?
A Content Brief is probably the single most important thing that you can do to ensure that what you write, develop and deploy is going to be successful. Without it, chaos is likely and wasted resources, frustration and lengthy delays will ensue. Almost guaranteed.
Because if you haven’t spent the time and effort to get the people who want the content to pause, answer some essential questions and most important of all—invest in the successful outcome of that content that you’ll collectively create, how will you ever know that what you’ve done measures up to your defined goals?
What to ask before you create.
Before you ever even think about producing content think about completing a well structured and organized Content Brief. This isn’t just a procedural exercise. It’s the fastest way to find out if a piece of content is just a fuzzy non-achievable dream or something that all parties recognize as worth investing real time and money in.
What’s in a Content Brief?
Below is a helpful checklist of questions that must be answered before content creation begins. The answers, in effect, become your guide about where to start, what to avoid, what’s relevant, what your key message is, and most important of all—how you’re going to measure the success of what actually gets developed and deployed.
If you want to get everyone aligned, be clear on what to do, who does what, and mitigate disaster in a transparent and accountable way, start with this list and add anything that is particular or specific to the content asset that your client or team member seeks to have on the internet.
Not optional: Incomplete answers or selective disclosure.
As stated earlier, getting these questions answered is not an administrative task for the procedural nerds. The clarity of the answers and insightfulness of those asking them will set up your effort for success or failure.
Until there is agreement with all parties involved on each and every answer in your Content Brief, it doesn’t make sense to commit to creating content. No excuses and no short cuts. Just the clarity that you and everyone else needs to get to the great content everyone is looking for.
For those non-believers, just wing it a few times and see what happens. You may get lucky once. After that, there’s guaranteed pain ahead.
So what’s your process? Do you use a similar set of questions before you start the content creation process? What would you add to the list? Share how you succeed.