A field of dandelions.

The Why and How of a Creative Brief

We spend a lot of time in the weeds.

That’s one of the things about working on such a small team. Each person knows with excruciating detail the ins and outs of our product and process.

Which isn’t always a bad thing — until it is.

Until we have to take a step back to figure out our next move for lead-gen, but can’t stop focusing on the specs of the admin onboarding UX.

Until we have to determine whether the targeting for that marketing campaign was right, but keep coming up with use cases for every audience.

Until we have to give a 15-minute pitch to a potential new client, but are feeling overwhelmed trying to determine which details to share in that precious little time (because every detail feels important).

Not to mention that we each still bring our own internalized ideas and biases to those details — often with the assumption that our teammates think/feel the same way. The good news is that, when those things happen, we’re able to turn back to our creative brief to make sure we’re on the right track.

A creative brief is a document that strategically outlines the direction of a project. It’s loaded with prompts that force your team to think about every angle of your work, and then to develop succinct descriptions for each prompt. It covers everything from objective to audience, it ensures that everyone buys into the same vision, and it allows your team to map a path forward.

Once we developed the concept for our software, we dove immediately into writing a CB, and we’ve come back to it time and time again. For any creative project, we recommend you do the same. Here are the pieces we use to put together a strong creative brief:

Logistics

Name your product, and outline your rough launch timing.

Overview

Explain what your product/service is in just a couple of sentences.

Objective

Describe the goal of this particular project in one (short) paragraph.

Challenge

Outline any potential barriers to success, both internal & external (i.e. lack of awareness, misperception, market competition, etc.).

Target Audience(s)

In general terms, describe for whom you are you building this product/service.

Buyer Persona(s)

Okay, so this is arguably the most important part of your creative brief. Look at that target audience, and now think about an actual buyer. Give him/her a name. Who is going to buy your product/service, and why are they going to buy it? What is their life like, and how will your product/service improve it? Try writing from this buyer’s first-person perspective, and do this for two or three personas.

Action Insight

Prepare a concise statement outlining the drivers for, and barriers to, action, again in the voice of a buyer.

Ideal User Flow

Describe what an ideal user experience looks like, step by step, and what content helps to guide that experience.

I’m not going to lie — writing a creative brief isn’t easy; it will take revisions and time and more revisions and more time. But when your team needs an anchor point when planning your next steps, the creative brief can (and should) be that pillar you can all agree on and understand.

A presenter stands in a conference room with a handful of attendees.

Amplifying your presence at any event with social media: a three-step guide | after

Missed the first two parts of our three-step social media guide for events? Learn what to do and what to consider before and during an event.

AFTER AN EVENT

Things to do:

  • Thank the event host — or if that’s you, thank (and tag) attendees, partners and sponsors — in social posts.
  • Share a few photos that best summarize the event, while still using any relevant hashtags.
  • Share relevant content as a call-back to the event or an #ICYMI. This could include blog posts, whitepapers, eBooks, videos or case studies tied to the theme, as well as recordings of presentations given during the event.
  • If this a recurring event that you’ll be hosting or participating in again, build on the momentum and excitement from the event that just wrapped, and encourage people to attend the next iteration.

You may have missed:

Amplifying your presence at any event with social media: a three-step guide – before

Amplifying your presence at any event with social media: a three-step guide – during

 




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Three hands working on a laptop.

Don’t forget to spelchek: A readability checklist for your content

We get it — you’ve spent a lot of time putting together your work, and you can’t wait to get it out in the world. Avoid potential missteps and check off the items below before you click “publish” with this handy downloadable .pdf!

Content Readability Checklist
 




 

Post-it notes on a wall, each with a note.

Six tips for running a kickass content brainstorm

Content marketing is easy to say. Hard to do. Even harder to do well. Having run hundreds of content brainstorms over the years for ourselves and our clients, we’ve developed a formula to deliver the best results most consistently:

1. Establish guide rails

It’s important that you keep everyone’s creative energy focused in the right direction. We do that by establishing guide rails (ok, rules) before each brainstorm. e.g. Only ideas that can be executed by X deadline, Content for corporate CMOs, etc.

2. Turn off the machines

We find our sessions work best using a whiteboard and some big post-its. No laptop needed.

3. Quantity over quality.

In a brainstorm, more is better. Set a goal for X number of ideas and don’t stop until you’ve hit it. That keeps the brainstorm from getting too focused on any singular idea.

4. In your back pocket

It’s inevitable that you’ll hit a creativity wall along the way. Have a few ideas to keep things moving along when the block arises. A few we use:

  • A Thesaurus search on words that are being used in lots of the ideas
  • Envision a specific persona, e.g. What ideas would work great for Carl in IT?
  • Build off the opposite of good ideas. e.g. Turn 10 great content brainstorm tips into 10 mistakes made during content brainstorms.

5. Build on successful ideas

Have a list of your team’s best content from the last year handy. Prompt for any common traits of those ideas that have resonated with your audience previously.

6. Yes, and…

Encourage team members to build off of each others’ ideas, rather than downplaying their value. There are no bad ideas.

 




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