Use this guide to learn how best to approach your company’s C-suite to get their buy-in for a comprehensive content marketing plan.
Company leadership isn’t always on board with investing in content marketing. But in most cases, they should be. Marketing luminary Seth Godin put it best years ago, “Content marketing is all the marketing that’s left.”
That still stands true today as 82 percent of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading their custom content. And 89 percent of companies said their content marketing programs are more effective now than in years past, according to CMO.
Yet many in the C-suite still need convincing to fully commit to a content program over other marketing approaches. That’s where you come in.
Keep reading to learn:
- How to present the facts for investing in content marketing based on data.
- What it takes to set the right expectations from the start.
- Which content marketing benefits and case studies to present.
- Where to find an internal advocate to support a content program.
- The right approach to developing a frictionless action plan.
If you’re ready to convince your brand’s leadership that now’s the time to take your content marketing program more seriously, let’s dive in.
Rely on Company and Third-Party Data
Ahead of speaking with your supervisor and other leaders at your organization, compile relevant data to support your arguments for dedicating more resources to content marketing.
Data pulled from your analytics are an objective source of information on what impact content has already had on the company, if any.
Use Google Analytics, Chartbeat, or another tool to pull reporting on the number of conversions; sales; and top-of-the line metrics relevant to the C-suite’s priorities, like metrics related to time on-site for the CMO.
Are visitors on your website reading articles or watching videos? If so, what actions are they taking as a result of these interactions that can be quantified into a report.
Showcasing the changing impact content has had on your business from one quarter to the next will make it clear as to what results have been achieved with content to date.
Even if you’ve never created content before, consider reviewing your customer service data as a starting point to identify trends in questions repeatedly asked by your customers that should be addressed with content.
Presenting third-party data is also another way to showcase what’s happening across the marketplace, not just within your company.
“This research also shows that younger generations are much less likely to get their news from offline sources. Being behind with regard to these trends could have a devastating impact on any business.
“Add to that, the very clear aversion people have to interruptive marketing messages and it’s easy to see why content marketing is so effective as an online marketing tool,” Fryatt says.
Curate relevant data from high-quality, third-party sources that cover content marketing and its impact, like eMarketer, Content Marketing Institute, Forrester Research, and L2.
In addition to presenting what’s happening in your industry at large, another strong argument to make is showcasing the results leading competitors are seeing with content.
“One thing leaders hate is when their lunch is being handed to them by their competitors,” says Chad Pollitt, VP of audience and partner at Native Advertising Institute and adjunct professor at Rutgers University. “This alone may be good enough to get them on the content marketing train.”
Set Expectations From the Start
Connecting with your audience by sharing useful information is far different than running an ad or TV commercial. Both the timing of the results and the measurement process are unique.
Inform leadership from the beginning that content marketing doesn’t typically drive results overnight and instead is a long-term commitment that can take anywhere from six months to two years to illustrate its full impact.
Certain aspects of a content program are measurable in the short term like social shares or views on video, while other goals like ranking higher in search or driving sales from content are long-term objectives.
This is a common distinction that many executives have been unaware of in the past, leading them to quickly scrap their program after it doesn’t immediately deliver results as was the case with Honda’s YouTube efforts.
Next, address how your content program will be measured from the beginning and the estimated results that will be achieved on a monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis.
Stress the unique aspects of measuring the progress of content versus a marketing medium that leadership is already familiar with.
“When internal leadership resists content marketing, it’s usually based on three reasons: fear of vague results, fear of unclear goals, and fear of indeterminate time involved,” says Salma Jafri, content marketing strategist and speaker.
To combat these very real concerns, Jafri suggests doing the following as a marketer:
- Highlight a key company goal and break down the process by which content marketing will achieve that goal (e.g., using content-powered funnels to build trust and sales).
- Have a frank discussion how the goal could be achieved via other ways and the opportunity cost of that (e.g., targeted email campaigns powered by buyer personas vs. mass advertising).
- Show how content marketing metrics can be measured and how to read the data to make insightful decisions faster (e.g., watch time on a video used to determine priority message placement).
Typically when laid out in concrete terms like this, the C-suite will better understand the big picture and how content marketing is tied to real, measurable results that drive the company’s goals forward while building long-term value, suggests Jafri.
Illustrate Key Benefits and Case Studies
Outline what benefits of content marketing directly align with your organization’s objectives.
For example, if you’re a B2B brand and your goal this quarter is to increase leads and sales, then you might explain how developing different types of content for each stage of a buyer’s journey will move them closer to become a lead or making a purchase over time.
A key benefit of content marketing is that it provides valuable information to new and existing customers, forming a stronger bond with your customer base, and increasing the likelihood that potential customers believe you’re a trustworthy organization and have a useful expertise.
Additional benefits worth discussing are:
- It’s affordable. Content marketing costs 62 percent less than outbound marketing.
- SEO-friendliness. Content helps your organization rank in search by generating links and impacting other factors Google takes into consideration.
- Improved brand reputation and awareness. The expertise you’re known for and the causes you stand for are clearly expressed publically with content.
- Added engagement. Including useful information on your website provides visitors with content to consume and interact with, often increasing time on-site.
- Stand out from competitors with content that positions your brand as the authority on a variety of relevant subjects.
Present case studies as well from other firms to further support the benefits content marketing can bring to the table, says Chad Pollitt.
He suggests starting with Google’s Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) study to back up your claims, provide background context on a consumer’s journey online, and ensure the C-suite is on the same page with how content impacts a person’s path to purchase.
“The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of the buyer’s journey takes place online across all industries,” says Pollitt. “The biggest concern of any company is not being present or effective online when prospective buyers are researching. Effective content marketing fills the buyer’s journey with the content necessary to fulfill consumers’ ZMOT needs.”
Share case studies of similar organizations succeeding with content marketing like the ones compiled by Content Marketing Institute here, to provide insights on the steps they took to generate ROI from content.
When showcasing how different benefits of content marketing align with your goals, highlight what the associated costs are to understand the investment needed to reap these benefits.
“My main recommendation is to ask ‘what if I’m wrong,’” says Robert Rose, chief strategy advisor at Content Marketing Institute and content marketing consultant. “Even if I’m completely wrong about ALL the business benefits that we can make — we have to ask ourselves if we’re creating more or less content to support all the channels we are on.
“Research has shown that almost every company is creating more content this year than they did last, and will create more next year than they will this year,” Rose says. “That is an increasing cost no matter how small.
“So, even if the ONLY benefit is to get our arms around the increasing costs, doesn’t it make sense to create a smart content strategy? And once we do that, doesn’t it make sense to see if we can’t then realize at least SOME of the benefits I’m talking about? Anybody who says ‘no’ at that point isn’t paying attention.”
As you highlight the benefits of content marketing to leadership, remind them that being active on email, social media, and elsewhere requires a thoughtful content strategy to see results.
Find an Internal Advocate
The goal here is to find a colleague with the highest level of authority at your company as possible, preferably in the C-suite, that already supports investing in content marketing.
Their assistance in your journey to get buy-in from leadership is essential as they have more sway and trust with other leaders at your organization that can impact change.
If they’re open to working with you, they’ll be able to provide useful advice in terms of what process to follow to convince key stakeholders you’re right, as well as what motivates them to take action.
You may not always have someone on staff that’s in support of content, but the best starting point to find this individual is to search through your own network of colleagues.
Review the LinkedIn profiles of existing staffers inside and outside of marketing to see what they are sharing on social media to any indication of buy-in or interest in content marketing.
Simply asking around the office or on the company’s Slack channel for any suggestions of colleagues interested in content marketing internally might be helpful too.
Develop a Frictionless Action Plan
French poet Antoine de Saint-Exupery once said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
Crafting your plan in the form of a content marketing strategy is often lauded as the key to making content actually work, which is true as a plan keeps you on track to test your approach.
However, as you argue for an allocation of budget and resources towards content marketing it doesn’t make sense to build out the full strategy quite yet.
Instead create a simplified action plan of a few pages to provide an overarching view of how you plan to execute content, as well as the estimated results.
“Share the path you used to arrive at content marketing as the solution — not just the idea or request to embrace the approach,” says Jay Acunzo, creator and host of Unthinkable, a podcast about creativity in content marketing.
“It’s far more effective to outline how you arrived at content marketing, framed along the same goals and using the same words that leadership uses.
“Communicating that way exposes your end-to-end thinking, shows leaders you’re being thoughtful and strategic, and allows you to all objectively discuss the logic and proposed solution — rather than poke at each other’s personal ideas,” Acunzo says.
As Acunzo suggests, a frictionless action plan helps different stakeholders understand how content marketing will work at your organization from start to finish.
An action plan worth presenting to company leadership should address:
- Goals and metrics your content marketing will account for.
- The content types that match your audience’s preferences.
- Which marketing channels to be active on.
- Topic categories to consider.
- The content development process.
- Distribution practices.
- The associated costs and resources need for this program.
- Estimated results on a monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis.
Laying out these components of your plan will make it much easier for the C-suite to grasp where you’re coming from and how this program would integrate across departments.
What challenges have you faced when adding content to your marketing mix? Which objections to embracing content marketing were the most difficult to address? Share your thoughts with us over on Twitter @DigitalCurrent.