Arjun Kashyap | April 13th, 2021

In recent weeks, we’ve been asked by more than one client at the beginning of a project if there’s a checklist to follow while preparing a project brief for our editorial team.

We love being asked this question. It shows that the client is thinking and planning ahead, which can make all the difference between a project that is completed on time and achieves its intended objectives, and one that gets mired in endless revisions or doesn’t land on the radar of those it’s designed for.

From the seemingly mundane to the strategic, it is essential to nail down as many details as possible at the very beginning. And conveying these details to your agency partners can help avoid project bottlenecks and ensure the on-time production of publication-ready content. Here’s a look at the key items on our checklist to help streamline your next content brief and enhance the effectiveness of your campaigns.

*The audience: Success in thought leadership content campaigns depends at least to some extent on delivering the right level of personalisation. Most B2B marketers understand that ‘spray-and-pray’ strategies no longer work. It’s crucial to decide on your priority audience – more than one can be problematic – so the content can be tailored accordingly, and as specifically as possible, from the ground up.

*The message: It’s hard to resist the temptation of talking about the topic of the day, week or month, or as it’s been in the case of the pandemic, even the year. But before succumbing, ask honestly whether it’s an area on which you genuinely have something to say. While it’s important for content to be topical, actionable intelligence is a necessary ingredient of genuine thought leadership, and the motivation to publish must come from a deeper and more strategic source. Make sure your messaging has been thought through and is distilled, and distinct, preferably in tandem with your agency so it benefits from some external validation.

*The platform: In order to reach the right audience, you need the right platform. While LinkedIn and Twitter are typically useful for reaching a B2B audience, consider other options if you are trying to engage readers on niche topics like healthcare or technology, or in a market like China, where audiences tend to have their own preferred social networks. Knowing which platforms the content is destined for will enable it to be structured for impact on these specific networks. Similarly, if what’s at stake is sponsored content, the publisher’s house style, tone and format must be considered to keep the content as ‘native’ as possible, minimising the risks of editorial tangles and enhancing its influence.

*The KPIs: What gets measured gets done, they say. This is also true of content. Be it clicks or sales leads or conversions, it’s worthwhile to identify the key performance indicators beforehand to improve the chances of a campaign’s success and, at the end, assess if it indeed met expectations. Understanding how a piece of content’s ROI will be measured in advance allows these considerations to be factored into the production process, raising the chance key benchmarks will be achieved. At the end of the day, as N/N’s Head of Data Insights notes, it’s all about honing the publishing approach and constantly assessing how certain metrics and strategies are doing, and tweaking the dials as needed, for maximum impact.

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