The most challenging briefings – and important tips

Challenging briefings

Stefan Huber

Stefan Huber is Chief Content Officer. He is in charge of the Content, Service & Delivery Unit, assists customers with advisory services and content know-how, and gains new creative input while climbing indoors and outdoors.

For us, one thing is certain: In content marketing, every successful campaign begins with a good briefing. That’s why we’ve already addressed this topic in our magazine article “Why the end customer benefits from a good briefing“. But what actually distinguishes a good briefing from one that makes content creation difficult? The following four types of challenging briefings provide an insight – including practical tips for a more successful handover.

1. The under briefing

We work with briefing forms to cover the most important key data of each campaign: from the desired landing page to the challenges of the end customers and the definition of the target group. It happens that the briefing form is filled out, but simply contains too little information. Unfortunately, this turns content creation into a guessing game: because in order to address the target group, we need to know and understand their problems.

Information about the advertised product or service, such as which features or offers are the most important, is also part of the crucial information. Because in the worst-case scenario, the campaign ends up addressing precisely those product features that are not that important for the specific target group.

The under briefing

Let’s look at a tourist region, for example, which offers vacation packages for a wide range of interests: Whether the target group is a young family traveling by car and wanting an adventurous program, or a couple looking for a romantic wellness getaway, naturally makes a big difference for content creation and thus for the success of the campaign. This is precisely why a detailed briefing is so important.

TIP: If you want to save time during the briefing, you may have to take it twice and thrice later – if the content produced does not meet expectations. That’s why the briefing form should be filled out thoroughly and in detail. This lays the foundation for an effective content marketing campaign.

2. The over briefing

Exactly the opposite problem arises with the classic over briefing. A large number of press releases, product folders and long briefing texts as well as an excessive amount of pictures can make content creation just as challenging. After all, it then becomes difficult to filter out the really essential information or to select the actual desired images.

However, it should be noted that additional material is helpful in most cases and often even essential for producing a successful content marketing campaign. For example, supplied texts help us to match the tone of voice of the customer approach. It is simply important that the briefing material sent along is actually relevant. Then it becomes a helpful support in content creation.

The over briefing

For example, in an automotive campaign for commercial customers, we might also get detailed information and visuals for private use. This can lead to confusion in the creative process and distract the content from the actual core topic: After all, you don’t want to let delivered briefing material just fall by the wayside.

TIP: Quality goes before quantity – also in the briefing. It is therefore important to deliver the really relevant texts, images, and so on. In the case of additional material that is intended to convey a sense of tone or provide background knowledge for understanding, it helps to note that this is only additional information that should not be included in the campaign.

3. The briefing for “everyone”

There are products that actually have a very broad target group. Unfortunately, information such as “15 to 65 years old, female and male” is usually not helpful as a target group definition. Content that is supposed to appeal to everyone ends up appealing to no one.

Here, it is all the more important to narrow down the problems, wishes and needs of the target group which the product solves and fulfills. So instead of demographic data, the focus is on the emotions of the end customers. And the thematic focus of the content marketing campaign should also be chosen accordingly. Even if only a part of a very broad target group is addressed, it is still effectively reached with tailored content.

The briefing for everyone

As an example, consider a non-alcoholic soft drink from the fast-moving consumer goods industry. Of course, anyone – from teenage to retired; at work or at home; male, female or diverse – can consume the drink. Still, the campaign needs to narrow down the target audience: when, why and how should they reach for the advertised soft drink? What needs should it fulfill? It is precisely this information about the target group that is important for effective content marketing.

TIP: A good briefing explains what motivates the target group (to buy). It also helps to define different target groups, for example through personas. These can be addressed very specifically with their own content or at teaser level. Demographic data – as long as it can be narrowed down – is certainly interesting for image selection, but otherwise often rather irrelevant.

4. The piece by piece briefing

In digital marketing in particular, content creation often has to be fast. Sometimes you have to start producing content “asap” – and then other parts of the briefing arrive bit by bit. This can also become a real challenge. After all, the content should be coherently structured and follow a common thread. And that’s not so easy when essential information is only delivered and incorporated later.

The piece by piece briefing

For example, with more complex topics, such as finance or insurance, it can make sense to include expert voices. However, it is important that they fit harmoniously into the text. If the quotes are delivered later though, while content creation has already begun, the quality of the content may suffer. This may lead to more work, which in turn could delay the start of the campaign.

TIP: It is always helpful to send the briefing and material as compiled as possible. If individual assets are missing, such as images, quotes or the landing page, a pre-briefing on these can also be useful: What will the expert testimonials be about? What will be roughly depicted in the pictures? And is there already a draft of the landing page? All of this helps us to produce high-quality content.

Whether it is too much, too little, too inaccurate, or in bits and pieces: All four challenging briefings basically have one thing in common – in one way or another, important information is missing in order to exploit the full potential in content creation. If you focus on communicating the most important info in the briefing, you’ve already avoided many mistakes. And that often contributes enormously to the success of a content marketing campaign.