As a marketer and a keen fan of content marketing, it should come as no shock to you when I say ‘content is king’.
You know the insane power it can have for the whole of your sales funnel.
But if this is the case, why do so many of us struggle to get buy-in from c-level executives for our content marketing strategies?
Could it be because the executives don’t know the benefits of content marketing?
I doubt that.
It’s more likely the case they know the benefits but don’t know how it will work for your industry.
If you want to get buy-in for advanced content marketing, you need to sell the benefits.
You need to sell the ROI, but more importantly, you need to sell it for your business.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is anything from web content, eBooks, blog posts, white papers, infographics, videos, webinars. Anything you produce that educates entertains, inspires or informs your target customer.
In this post, we’re going to walk through the blueprint for getting your c-level executives on board with content marketing.
Before we dive in, let’s look at some of the reasons they might be hesitant.
Firstly, it’s often hard to see the direct results of content marketing compared to other marketing efforts: paid search for example.
Another reason people might not jump on the content marketing bandwagon is they’re following the wrong metrics.
Without scoping out a proper plan, you’re not sure which metrics matter to you. Because you don’t know which metrics you should be following, your stakeholders will struggle to see any value in content marketing.
Understanding the value of content marketing
If you really want to get the nod of approval for content marketing from your company executives you need to make sure you understand the value of it.
Now I don’t mean reciting exciting facts about how great content marketing is.
Remember, most people already know the stats.
You need to understand the true benefit for your own niche or business so you can relay it back to your decision makers.
If you don’t present your case in the view of your own industry, people won’t listen.
The object or goal of content marketing should be to gravitate people towards your service. To provide enough value that your audience recognizes likes and trusts your brand enough to want to do business with you.
This is highly valuable, and if done correctly, can have astronomical results for your business.
Working out your own value
Whilst outbound marketing is all about pushing people towards taking an action, like signing up for a free trial watching a demo, or downloading a free guide.
Inbound marketing is all about pulling people in to get to know you better.
You may know the phrase, don’t work for your money, make your money work for you. The same goes for content marketing. Creating the right type of content your audience is timeless.
The more people who discover your content, the more chance you have of it being shared.
This means generating endless results over time. If you need more convincing, 75% of HubSpot’s blog views and 90% of blog leads come from old posts.
Customer relationships change all the time. When these relationships change you need to rely on audience-centric content marketing.
Audience-centric content means putting your audience first. When your audience’s needs change, so does your content. It gives you an opportunity to stay in touch with your audience, even if the relationships change and allows you to keep all communication channels open.
Find other brands in your own niche who are winning with content marketing strategy. Dissect their strategy. Look at what they’re doing and what you could take from that.
Set realistic expectations that suggest when you’ll expect to see measurable results. Is there any value in doing content marketing if you won’t see any results for 10 years?
Find a way to provide your stakeholders with a ball-park estimate.
I’d suggest 6-12 months. 2-3 years for developing a blog following.
If you want buy-in you need to include the entire organization, especially the sales team.
Remember, you want to argue that content marketing is effective team-wide. So including the sales team to your proposal gives the stakeholders what they want to hear: more sales.
The best content strategies are the ones that realize the bottom-line outcomes. You need to create the connection between the two. The way to do that is to create a performance-driven content marketing strategy.
Presenting that value to the decision makers
If you want people to get involved, then you need to produce convincing data and quantify your content marketing process.
Speak in their language. You might think you have a great idea for a piece of content, but if you want buy-in that shouldn’t be what you focus on. Instead, focus on the aims and the goals of the content. – why is it good for your audience? How will the company benefit from producing this content?
It’s the classic case of show, don’t tell. Prove your points through data analysis and case studies from your own niche.
Bridge the gap between your own ideas and the data to prove it.
Often it’s not that you executives are against content marketing, but they’re against the types of content that aren’t salesy.
When trying to appeal to people to get buy-in for content marketing, it’s imperative you make it relatable.
Whilst data and case studies are crucial, metaphors and analogies work best that draw from everyday life.
Think about it, even a salesperson doesn’t just push a service or a product.
If you want to come across likable then you need to do more than just sell, you need to tell a story and content marketing is a great way to do just that.
This way you can connect your tactics to the entire organizational end goals.
If you want to make the decision makers pay attention, then you need to realign your content marketing strategy with what they care about, or what they worry about. If you can position content marketing as a solution, you’re guaranteed to make people pay attention.
Making content marketing work for you
If you already do content marketing but want to take it to the next level, it’s important to analyze the content you already have.
There are two key ways to look at your results:
Short term and long term results.
Short term content marketing involves looking at the low-value metrics such as social shares on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin etc.
Long term result involves looking at things like leads that have come directly from your content marketing efforts.
Compare it to your current cost per lead. Like with traditional marketing efforts, such as display ads or sponsored posts, content marketing doesn’t have any recurring costs, other than the salaries of the content marketing expert.
Content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing, it generates more than three times as many leads. Meaning, it’s a lower cost per lead over time.
Content marketing allows you to take your readers on an organic journey teaching them about your brand, without being too salesy. People hate being sold to.
Use tools like SEMRush or SpyFu to work out where you currently are. This is known as your baseline. This will show you how you rank for your chosen keywords and how many searches your keywords have per month.
Using this as your baseline, you can set realistic goals for improvement.
When you do get buy-in it’s important to keep it. You need to consistently show the value of the content you’re putting together.
The best way to do that is through testing and reporting. Come up with hypotheses and test and report back.
The elephant in the room with content marketing is which metric do I follow. The answer is: you follow the ones that make sense for you. When you plan your content marketing it should be aligned with your overall strategy.
So if you’re looking for more leads, then the only metric that should be important to you is how many people downloaded your content upgrade.
If you’re looking for more social shares then the only metric that should be important to you is how many social shares you received.
If you’re looking for buy-in for your content marketing efforts, then you need to do three things.
First, you need to understand the value your content marketing has for your business. This involves looking at case studies, collecting data and quantifying the value.
Second, in order to successfully get buy-in, you need to present your findings in a way that’s conducive for the decision makers. Speaking their language will greatly increase the chance you have of getting buy-in.
Finally, once you’ve started your content marketing process, the hard work doesn’t stop there. You need to continually find ways to showcase your results in order to prove the benefits your content marketing is having on your bottom line.
Through an effective content marketing plan, you can convince your decision makers to buy-in to your ideas. That will give you the chance to turn your hypotheses into action, and action into a strategy you can measure and improve.