When Content Garden receives an order confirmation for a new content campaign, the question “When can we expect the finished content?” is usually not long in coming. Our customers tend to forget one not entirely unimportant thing. It is called a briefing. In most cases, nothing happens without this briefing – and there are good reasons for this!
The power of briefing is consistently underestimated
Especially in the fast-paced world of online marketing, where everything has to happen “instantaneously” and entire content campaigns can be adjusted anytime and anywhere with just a few clicks, time is a scarce commodity. Understandably, the temptation is great to neglect the briefing. After all, it’s only in the rarest of cases that you can easily provide one. Often it is a bit tedious, at least it forces you to think about it, now and then it really strains your head and most of the time you have to plan a bit of time for it. However, this time invested right at the beginning of a project makes the path to the result a lot easier for everyone involved.
The briefing as the basis for good cooperation
Budget, timings and the campaign theme are often already apparent from the order confirmation. But a briefing reveals so much more than that. It not only defines the basic conditions in a rudimentary way, but also lays down important points as a common starting point. It defines ideas and wishes, expectations and goals. It provides orientation, clarity, helps to avoid mistakes, and increases the chances of creating precisely tailored content and ensuring that the project runs smoothly. Last but not least, it also ensures transparency for everyone involved from the very beginning, prevents later discussions and, ideally, helps avoiding (too many) feedback loops. A clear briefing is therefore the foundation of every successful and efficient collaboration between client and contractor.
Everything begins with the question of “why”
At Content Garden, we believe in the power of content. Because good content manages to carry people away and inspire them. The prerequisite for this is that it answers the question of “why“. Of course, that in itself is nothing groundbreaking. However, many people have not yet recognized or simply ignore the fact that this also has a lot to do with a successful briefing. It doesn’t matter whether it’s about a product, a service or an employer brand: in the end, everything revolves around the “why”. That’s why every campaign briefing should start with an answer to this question and, in connection with it, with the core message. After all, if the client himself doesn’t know why he’s doing something, how is the contractor supposed to figure it out on his own – by being clairvoyant, for example?
7 steps to a perfect briefing
If the client has the core message of his company, brand or product well in mind, a well-founded and complete briefing is much easier to handle. After the most important formalities such as the name of the company, campaign branding, the campaign duration as well as the network and the available media budget have been recorded, the following points should in any case also be carefully considered:
Objective: What is the objective of the campaign?
We start right away with the desired end result. Again, answering the question “why” comes into play. However, the question now is: Why is the campaign being done? What is its purpose? What goal is it intended to contribute to? What is to be achieved through it?
Tip: There are many goals – big and small. That is clear. But a single campaign can never achieve all of them. It therefore makes particular sense to focus on a specific communication goal instead of sticking to “we want to increase sales”.
Problem definition: What is the initial situation? What is the current challenge?
Sometimes there are specific reasons for campaigns, such as a new product or a new target market. Most of the time, companies want to increase their own awareness or that of their products. So far, so good. But what has led to this need? What challenges does the company or product have to overcome? Where are the stumbling blocks?
Tip: The more insights you give here, the better. If, for example, instead of criticizing “lack of awareness,” you reveal that potential customers do not properly understand a certain aspect of the product, you are much more precise.
Target group: who is the target group and what makes them tick?
Who should the campaign reach? Which people should feel addressed? What problem do these people solve with the product, service or company? What benefits are they hoping for? At what points can you best “grab” them and trigger emotions?
Tip: “Everyone” is not a target group. Neither is “Female 20-45.” Real target group insights are much more valuable here. Accordingly, many people have a hard time with this. It can help to ask yourself: What do my customers want? What do they dream of? What is their biggest problem?
Product(s)/service(s): what should be advertised and what is so great about it?
A company usually knows its own product world inside out. For outside service providers, however, things often look quite different. The question of which product should be advertised in the campaign is usually clarified quite quickly. But when it comes to special editions, promotions, and a very specific model, appropriate clarification can be very helpful. This may sound simple, but it can save a lot of time. Furthermore, answering the question about the unique product benefit (USP) is at least as important.
Tip: The best way to do this is to do some soul-searching and consider which product features make the product unique. What is the unique selling proposition? How does it set you apart from the competition?
Text alignment, tonality & reader appeal: what look & feel is desired?
Good content is like a good conversation. You adjust to your counterpart, but you still want to get your message across as authentically as possible. So you have to ask yourself: How do we do that? Do we drum up a lot of publicity or are we more reserved? How important is a serious effect to us? How relaxed are we? What style of language is appropriate? How emotional can the whole thing be? Do we want to be a little provocative? And how do we adress the reader – by Sie, by Du or rather just indirectly?
Tip: It is often a good idea to attach a particularly successful example to the briefing. This can be an old campaign of your own, but also a text that you have seen elsewhere and found to be very good. In this way, you can make it clear what style you are aiming for.
Material: Which material can be provided?
The client’s task is to provide the contractor with all available materials that are essential for creating the online content: This or something similar would probably be one of the 10 commandments from a content manager’s point of view. After all, the more you know about a product, the better you can write about it. This starts with the landing page for and (print) brochures about the product and extends to references to competitors. In addition, the right images and videos, but also quotes help with creating the content.
Tip: If you have a lot of materials and accordingly deliver whole folders full of PDF files, presentations and documents, you should always also send a kind of “instruction manual” on how to handle the documents. This prevents open questions and minimizes the otherwise sometimes quite large scope for interpretation.
No-go’s: what should not happen?
At least as important as saying what you want is communicating what you don’t want: Which topics should not be dealt with? Which emotions should not be used? Which wordings do you prefer to do without?
Tip: By the way, this approach also works for almost all other steps of the briefing and sometimes provides an even clearer view very quickly. For example, if you ask yourself: What can the product not do? Or: Which target group should not be addressed?
Conclusion: Not all briefings are the same
From announcing the communication goal to insights into the target group to answering the question about the unique product benefit: If you follow the steps and tips mentioned above, you can turn a good briefing into a very good briefing with only a little effort and expense. And that is well worth it! Because the better the briefing, the better the content. So: Treat the briefing well – because it is your friend, not your enemy.