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How to Write a Creative Brief for B2B Marketing

In this blog, you'll learn how to write a creative brief for your next video project in 12 simple and straightforward steps.
Article Outline

Engaging videos start with scripts. Well-structured articles are based on outlines. And the best marketing deliverables and campaigns are built on solid creative briefs. 

Don’t groan — a creative brief is just a fancy word for a plan. It’s a document that describes the goals and specifications of your marketing project. And a good creative brief is worth its weight in gold. Without one, goals are missed, details are overlooked, and deadlines are blown. 

But how do you write a creative brief for a successful B2B marketing project? We’ll give you seven simple steps to execute a killer brief — plus some “why you should care” context, just in case you need to make the case to others on your team. 

Graffiti on a brick wall reads "Together, we create!" to illustrate the idea.
Wondering how to write a creative brief? And why? It’s the first step to a team effort. Photo by “My Life Through A Lens” on Unsplash

Why creative briefs matter to marketers

For B2B marketing teams, creative briefs serve a tangible purpose. They communicate the needs and specifications of a stakeholder (or, often, many stakeholders) to a creative team tasked with producing assets. This could be a freelance writer working on a blog post for a content team, a production company filming a video marketing asset for a brand, or an agency developing an end-to-end campaign with tons of moving pieces. 

In each scenario, a good brief helps keep everyone on the same page and gives the creative team what they need to produce the best possible content for their stakeholders. 

But bad briefs are out there. Take it from Marc Moran, who literally teaches a class on building creative briefs. He told us, “A bad brief will result in bad work. It’s really that simple.” Marc specifically cautions against the “lazy brief” (copy-and-pasted content from some other resource that doesn’t actually relate to the project at hand) and the “catch-all brief” (an info dump that makes it impossible to find anything useful). 

Think of a Google doc with a handful of SEO keywords and a due date, or a link to a 20-page strategy overview with a few campaign concepts sprinkled throughout. These bad briefs may happen because the marketing team doesn’t understand the true value of a good brief, or because developing a strong brief doesn’t seem worth the time or resources. 

Whatever the reason, as our problematic fave Don Draper once advised, let’s change the conversation

Overhead shot of the hands of a marketer in the early stages of writing a creative brief, taking notes and highlighting key ideas.
Writing a creative brief may seem like a daunting task, but it’s worth it to get the best results out of your team. Photo by on Unsplash

Briefs aren’t for creatives — they’re for marketers

The very act of developing a creative brief can bring clarity, alignment, and strategic value to any team, especially in the fast-paced world of B2B marketing. Here’s why creative briefs are worth your time: 

Briefs force strategic thinking

When you have to document the goals and business case for your content or campaigns, you avoid box-checking behaviors and connect the dots between individual projects and big-picture outcomes. “We’re writing this blog because we write a blog every week” just doesn’t cut it in a brief. 

And as a B2B marketer, you may know your product, your value prop, and your positioning statements like the back of your hand. But unless you create all your content and campaign assets with that same single hand, it doesn’t matter. You need to extract that knowledge from your in-house brain, distill the most important components for the project at hand, and communicate it in a way other collaborators can understand. (Which is basically the whole point of marketing, and will probably make you better at your job.)

Briefs save time — and budget

Quality creative work comes with a price tag. And spending extra hours revising content or reshooting video that doesn’t meet your expectations is not a good use of your precious marketing resources (especially if you’re marketing in a recession).

Briefs help you specify exactly what you need and expect from the outset, and help your creative team identify any gaps in direction or unclear instructions before they start working on your project. Yes, you might spend a few hours building a brief (or days, or even weeks, depending on your project’s complexity). But that is time well spent compared to the extra rounds of revisions, or even scrapped projects, that can happen due to a bad brief. 

Plus, in the rare case that a project goes awry due to circumstances beyond your control, having a good brief can serve as proof to the powers that poor planning isn’t to blame.

Briefs improve your employee (and freelancer) experience 

Have trouble keeping reliable writers or designers on your payroll or in your freelance stable? Lackluster briefs might be to blame. Good briefs make it easier to produce good work. And the most talented and in-demand creatives tend to prioritize working with teams that make their jobs easier, not harder. 

Who’s responsible for creating the brief?

While you can outsource some things to AI marketing assistants, writing a creative brief takes some human oversight. That said, the ownership of the brief process depends entirely on the project and the players. For example:

  • If a B2B marketing department hires an agency to produce a video, the agency’s account manager and creative director will likely complete the brief, with input from the client. The B2B marketers may have their own internal project brief, but the agency knows the creative specifications its team will need, so they’ll gather and document all the information. 
  • When an in-house creative team is asked to produce content assets for a business unit, the creative team usually has a brief template they’ll work with the business unit’s project manager to complete. This is a team effort, including decisions about prioritization compared to other creative requests from other departments.
  • If a content marketing manager hires a freelance writer to complete a blog post, the manager usually takes care of completing and sharing a brief. In some cases, their SEO agency may produce it—but the marketing manager will be responsible for strategic and messaging input (more on that in a minute). The writer may ask questions or suggest additional information to include, and some freelancers even supply their own brief templates to ensure they receive everything they need. 

In every case, one common theme pops up: collaboration. The brief is complete when both sides agree everyone should have everything they need to work on the project. 

According to Jamie Roberts, CEO/CCO of Rock That Creative Job (and a lovely podcast guest), the collaborative nature of a creative brief is its secret sauce. Because while nothing in B2B marketing is set in stone, the brief acts as a shared foundation for building alignment throughout the project. “Goals will shift, dates will change, scopes will creep,” she told us. “Getting the right people working on the right projects at the right times — while keeping it all on track and on budget — is not possible without a solid brief.” 

How to Write a Creative Brief: 7 Steps

Now that we’ve covered the why and the who, let’s get into the fun part: how to write a creative brief. Follow these seven steps on how to write a creative brief.

Wide shot of a video production in a small white room. Various crewmembers set up their work, from production staff in the foreground, to actors and camera operators in the background.
Projects like video production have so many moving parts, writing a creative brief is one way to keep everyone involved on the same page. Photo by Sam Moghadam Khamseh on Unsplash

1. Define your goal

It all starts here — you’ve gotta know your why. 

What’s the business case for creating this particular campaign / whitepaper / billboard / email sequence / sales deck? Are you trying to drive webinar registrations? Increase brand awareness? Launch a new product? 

Articulating your marketing goal cements your own strategic thinking, and gives your creative team the additional context they need to go from hired hands to highly valuable partners. When your writers and designers understand your overall goal, they can make well-informed decisions — or even suggest ways to enhance your project you wouldn’t think to ask for.

2. Describe your audience

With your goal in mind, you can identify and document your target audience. 

For example, if your goal is to launch a new product, who’s the ideal buyer on the receiving end of your marketing materials? Maybe your content is laser-targeted at an existing customer who will be likely to upgrade. Or maybe your best bet is to reach an audience that’s currently working with a competitor that lacks your shiny new feature. 

Additionally, you’ll want to describe where in the buyer’s journey this audience will likely encounter your content. Are they likely coming to a top-of-funnel term through organic search, and probably aren’t yet aware you exist? Are they conference attendees who may or may not have visited your booth at a tradeshow?

In the best-case scenario, you have detailed buyer personas and a customer journey map that you can share with your creative team to educate them about your target audience. If you don’t, you’ll need to provide some basic information.

Firmographic: What kind of company does the target audience work for?

  • Company size(s) 
  • Industries

Demographic: What are the personal details about the target audience members?

  • Job title(s)
  • Needs/pain points
  • Stage in the buying journey
  • Role in the buying decision

When it comes to the intended audience, the more detail you can give, the better. That allows your creative team to tailor messaging, visuals, examples, and language to your ideal customer — and the more personalized your content, the better it will perform. 

3. Pinpoint your key messages

Now, let’s move on to a step that’s often missing from creative briefs: pinpointing the key messages you want to include in your content. 

What’s the point-of-view you want to put forward? What are the key value propositions you want to articulate? What are the key takeaways you want your readers or viewers to walk away with after consuming your content?

This is especially important when you’re working with outside agencies or freelancers who don’t have your in-the-weeds perspective on your product’s messaging and value proposition. And it matters for every brief. Even if you’re creating a “simple” SEO article or webinar recap blog post, you as the marketer should have an idea of the actual point you are trying to make with your content. (And if you don’t, revisit your goal and audience to figure out why you’re doing this work in the first place.) 

When key messages are missing, you leave an awful lot up to interpretation for your creative partners. Especially when there’s technical nuance or industry-specific pain points involved, it’s easy for messaging to become muddled or watered down. 

This one can feel a little abstract, so here are a few different suggestions from real-life marketers on how to summarize key messages in your briefs:

  • Our pal Jamie Roberts recommends including a Messaging Hierarchy section that pinpoints “What is the single most compelling message?”
  • Product marketing consultant Bria King asks clients to answer, “What organizational values are you trying to convey in the content?”
  • Content marketer Jess Cody includes an “After State” in her briefs for B2B tech content, describing “What will [the audience] learn and how will it help them in their day-to-day?” 

Depending on your project, articulating your key messages could mean telling creatives what product features to highlight or which talking points from an interview are most compelling to your audience. Getting that strategic insight from the brief, rather than in a round of feedback, will help your creatives save time and deliver more focused, impactful content.

Closeup of a hand grasping a coffee mug; in red capitals the mug reads "Think Creative, Work Effective"
Remember: a brief isn’t an order form. It’s a rallying cry to inspire the creative team to do their best work.
Photo by HamZa NOUASRIA on Unsplash

4. Share available resources

If efficiency is important to you, don’t skip this section of your brief. This is when you give your creative partners a significant leg up by pointing them to the existing resources they can use when producing new content. 

Here are a few examples of existing resources and how your creative team might use them:

  • Audience insights to hone in on pain points and challenges
  • Original research to back up claims with unique statistics and examples
  • Market research (internal or external) to understand the competitive landscape
  • Existing and related content to shortcut research and understand preferred positioning
  • Images, graphics, or video footage to repurpose
  • Relevant case studies to add real-life examples from your own customers
  • Webinar recordings to spice up written content with expert quotes

Additionally, include in your brief if any internal SMEs should be interviewed or consulted during the creative production process. For example, customer success managers can add valuable context to a writer producing a case study, while a product manager can fact-check technical content or provide a relevant peek into the product roadmap. 

5. Document all the specs

Time to get specific. Literally. Answer all of the logistical questions a creative may have about your requirements for their work. This will depend on the deliverable, but may include:

  • The project manager/point person available to answer questions
  • Deadlines and due dates
  • Review cycles (who will review content, and when)
  • Byline or author bio
  • Word count or video length
  • SEO keywords
  • Internal links to include 
  • External competitors to avoid linking to
  • Link to the relevant section of your brand guidelines (voice and tone, style guide, visual design, etc. depending on the type of content being created)

This is a part of your creative brief practice that will take some time to perfect. It’s usually easiest to create a brief template that you copy for every project, so you aren’t reinventing the wheel and repeatedly missing key details or specs. 

As you work on projects, pay attention to where hiccups happen, and see if any vital information was missing from the brief. Add it to your template and keep refining over time. 

6. Share your shining examples — or aspirations

Show your creatives what they’re trying to match or beat in terms of quality. Include links to your top-performing blog posts, highest-converting ads, or internally beloved content within your briefs. 

And if you don’t have any internal content to hold up as an example, don’t be afraid to share inspiration from other companies. This is especially valuable when:

  • You want to land a specific look-and-feel for a visual product like a video
  • You’re ready to experiment with a new tone of voice
  • Your CEO wants to dip their toes into ghostwritten thought leadership

Nobody likes a copycat, but experienced creatives understand the difference between inspiration and imitation. And they’ll appreciate the guideposts along your company’s uncharted creative path. 

7. Determine your CTA

Coming up with a CTA that converts by guiding your audience to the next step along their customer journey isn’t usually a decision your freelancer, agency, or in-house creative studio will make. In most cases, you’ll need to let them know the specific CTA for your deliverable: signing up for a newsletter, downloading a gated asset, requesting a product demo, or something else altogether. 

For example, now that you’ve read through seven steps to develop a killer content brief, you’re probably inspired to flex your creative marketing muscle. But if you realized back in step two that your buyer personas could use a refresh, check out this helpful ebook about how to build marketing personas in three easy steps! 

See what we did there? 

Pointed you to additional, relevant content to help you along your journey. Now that’s a good CTA. 

And if you just can’t get enough, follow us on LinkedIn for more B2B marketing mastery. 

How to Write a Creative Brief: Template

No need to start from scratch: we’ve put together a free template leveraging all our recommendations. Just download below and start making your campaign dreams a reality!

(Note: The button will automatically start a download in a new browser window, so make sure you allow the popup to open in your browser).

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