Get Your Marketing Content Out of Your Brain and Onto the Page
When business owners or marketers haven’t worked with an outside writer before, they’ll often ask how I—as an “outsider”—can get their marketing content and ideas out of their brains and onto the page.
It’s a good question!
In fact, there are a number of ways to do it, depending your preferences and the type of content being created.
Fortunately, none of them require a Star Trek mind meld!
In this post, I’ll discuss just a few of the methods I’ve used.
A questionnaire is often the simplest method of gathering input for content. It’s something I use frequently with clients.
Questionnaires are great because they make it easy for other people on your team to weigh in on your content before we get to the writing stage.
It also allows you to take the time to consider your answers.
What does this questionnaire typically look like? It will vary from client to client and project to project. But generally, it will include questions like:
- What are your objectives?
- Who is your target audience?
- Who are your key competitors?
When to Use It
I’ll typically use a questionnaire when I haven’t worked with you before. It allows me to get complete and detailed information about you, your business and your business goals. It provides context for what I need to write.
Having this information in writing means I can reference back to it as needed for subsequent projects.
I’ll also use questionnaires when writing longer content pieces, such as website copy, white papers and ebooks.
Interviews are another good method of getting content out of your head and onto the page. With this method, I’ll ask you to come up with a few bullet points of what you want the content (e.g. a blog post) to cover.
I’ll review those bullet points, do some additional research and prepare any questions I may have.
I may also look for content you’ve previously published on the same (or related) topic. I’ll use this content to inform my work and potentially include a link to it in the completed article for better SEO.
Next, we’ll set up a call to discuss. I’ll ask you to walk me through your bullet points. I’ll also ask questions to further my understanding and flesh out the content. After the call, I may do additional research to fill in any gaps.
Most of my clients are very busy people, so I can appreciate that it’s not always easy to set up a call. In some select cases, I’ve used voice memos to communicate back and forth with clients rather than a phone call—but this only works well if the client and I have worked together for awhile.
When to Use It
Interviews work well for shorter content pieces, such as blog posts and guest articles. It also helps if I’ve worked with you before and have a good background understanding of your business and marketing goals.
I’ve also used this method with clients who are very uncomfortable with writing and prefer to talk through their ideas.
3. Creative Brief
In some cases, clients are able to provide me with a creative brief. These are usually prepared by marketing teams or marketing agencies to give direction to their writers.
A creative brief is essentially a blueprint for marketing content. It details the objectives, audience, message, context and more.
It essentially serves the same purpose as a questionnaire.
I’m always grateful when a client or agency provides me with a creative brief. It gives me insight and direction, which allows me to work more efficiently and generate a better end product.
4. Hybrid Approach
As you might have guessed, it’s not unusual to use some combination of these methods, depending on the situation.
For example, I’ll often use a questionnaire for a first big project with a client, then switch to interviews for subsequent, smaller projects (such as blog posts).
When to Use It
I’ll often settle into a hybrid approach once I’ve worked with a client for awhile. Over time, we’ll come up with a method that works well both of us while also generating excellent marketing content.
Put Your Content Ideas to Work!
As a business owner or marketing manager, you undoubtedly have a lot of ideas about the content you’d like to create.
Get those ideas out of your head and onto the page (or, more often, online)—and get them working for you!