This week I am writing a series of blogs on how to brainstorm, create and outreach awesome creative content – all in support of our March Madness campaign! We hope you enjoy – any questions, just tweet me @BeckyReflect.

So we all know why content is important, so I won’t harp on about that too much - but in a nutshell content not only demonstrates knowledge, but it helps build trust, it helps educate and is vital to any marketing strategy.

Before you even consider trying to come up with some content ideas or having an internal brainstorm there are some key steps you need to follow and turn into a briefing document to share with anyone involved in the process.

Step 1 - Why are you creating content? What does the Commander's intent need to be?

Now the answer to this can’t be - because Becky said it is important. To create awesome content it has to be ingrained in the business and be a belief you can all get behind. So why are you doing it? Well, we can go back to my last point that it is going to demonstrate knowledge, it will help build trust, it will educate - these are all good reasons - but they are generic. Get specific for your brief - what would you like your piece of content to achieve? Now you may want the answer here to be sales, but again, that would not be right - it may be a by-product of the content, but it cannot be the reason you are creating it - as it will end up too sales-y and it will fail.

So we need a good reason - something like - I want to educate my audience on the importance of xxx as we believe the industry, in general, does not fully cover it and if it was understood, our target audience would feel more empowered to make decisions.

A great way to ensure you write your reason in a succinct way is to think about the ‘Commander's Intent’. So, Commander's Intent is something used in the army as a crisp statement that appears at the top of every order, specifying the plan’s goals. There is never too much detail that it risks being rendered obsolete by unpredictable events. The idea being, you can lose the ability to execute the original plan, but you can never lose responsibility of executing the intent. It has been said no plan survives contact with the enemy, in the same way no sales plan survives contact with the customer - but the intent should always be there.

Step 2 - Who are you aiming this content at?

Audience profiling is something you should do as an overarching exercise for your marketing strategy and you may have a number of clear profiles, from which you will need to choose which one (or several) that the content wil be aimed at. If you want to hit multiple profiles will one piece of content do or should you create different variations?

Step 3 - What format should this content be in and where will it be used?

This leads on nicely from audience profiling, so thinking about the audiences you have decided on - what types of content do they like to digest? Is an article going to cut it? Or, for millennials, would it better to consider video or infographics? Is it something you want to re-use? If so, an article may not be right as Google dislikes duplicate content, so should it instead be an infographic that can be re-used many times? Is it actually physical content that is needed or are you open to doing something real? As doing real life things can generate awesome content - I’ll be talking about some of these in Friday’s post!

If you are hoping for your content to be hosted on someone else’s website - then look at their site - what type of content do they tend to feature? You may wish to talk to them at some point once you know what your content is going to be about, to get buy-in at an early stage.

Step 4 - Brand Considerations?

Will there be a tone of voice that has to be considered? Are you open to humour in the content or does it need to be serious? We will be talking on Wednesday about how to make memorable content and this is something everyone that is involved in the ideation process should read and consider.

Step 5 - Are there restrictions?

So at this point if you have a fixed budget or timeline, these should be noted as this will stop the creative team thinking too outside the box if the budget is low and the timing tight. Just remember, a creative content piece could be a single article or it could be a creative event strategy spanning a large amount of time, moving from location to location to generate buzz and follow up content!

This should give you a really good basis of a brief to share with colleagues, agencies etc. to start the brainstorming process. In your own examples you may have more information such as particular stats that need to inspire the piece or something that it is in follow up to - so by all means include these - just try to leave room for creativity - if that is what you are wanting to achieve!

Tomorrow we will be covering how to get creative - looking at brainstorming and ideation techniques, and remember, there is still time to enter our competition to win time with our expert team to help bring these ideas to life!


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