A Content Brief: Your New Favourite Marketing Tool

Do you ever find yourself in a meeting where no one’s on the same page? You could be discussing an upcoming campaign or event but you’re spinning your wheels trying to agree on messaging, assigning resources, or determining deadlines. Often times, it’s just about asking the right questions the first time, which is where a content brief comes in.


It’s quite possibly the least sexy, yet most valuable marketing tool I have in my arsenal. A content brief is a summary of your plan for a content project. It helps to clearly define expectations by explicitly stating objectives, measurement, target audience, messaging, mediums, and more. Did you know that 57% of all projects fail due to “breakdown in communications”? A content brief removes any fog or barriers around the vision for a project and can be used for any task that requires content including a social media campaign, email blast, event promotion, and more. Here goes!

Project overview
Explain what you know about the project. Consider who, what, where, when, why, and how.

What are you trying to accomplish? You can have more than one objective.

How will you measure your efforts on this project? Measurement will help determine if the objective was met.

Target audience
Who are you trying to reach? Explain what you know about the audience.

Communications objectives (AKA messaging)
Overall: What is the overall message you want your audience to receive?
Primary: What is the most important message your want your audience to receive?
Secondary: What is the second most important message you want your audience to receive?

What are some adjectives to describe the personality or tone to this content? Consider how you want your audience to feel.

What mediums will be used to communicate the above messages? Notice how mediums isn’t at the top of the content brief? There’s a reason for that. Deciding where you want to communicate your messages comes after defining who your message is targeted to, and what you want to say.

What are the components to the project? Don’t be afraid to get granular and attribute names to each deliverable so everyone on your team understands the scope of their contribution. Try to include items that aren’t tangible such as receive approval for landing page design or research the venue.

Attribute deadlines to each deliverable so there are no miscommunication barriers to getting the project completed on time.

I know what you’re thinking—mo’ paperwork, mo’ problems, right? A content brief can seem a bit daunting, but it drives you to answer questions you didn’t think to ask, such as how will I know if my project was effective, or how does this campaign align with our overall objectives? Whether or not you consider a project successful, the answer provides valuable insight that allows you to adjust your strategy accordingly.

So give it a go! If you’re having a hard time answering the questions on your own, try working on it with your team—soon you’ll be wondering how you ever got any work done without a content brief.

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Alex Geerts is a creative, detail-oriented digital marketer with an insatiable thirst for adventure and storytelling. She’s an explorer, animal lover, photographer, and still uses the word “kewl.”
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