Sweet Content MarketingSometimes the last holdout in moving from traditional marketing to content marketing is the C-suite executives or stakeholders who may not be completely sold on content marketing. Sales, Marketing and IT are generally geared up for making it happen, (maybe even in agreement about what must be done), but then they hit THE WALL.

A content marketing strategy does need to be a budgeted item; it requires both time and resources to be successful. If the C-suite bottom-liners aren’t convinced, the initiative either will not happen, or will be scattered and ineffective.

So, how do you get the C-suite in agreement about a content marketing strategy? What are the hurdles to overcome in getting their vital buy-in?

Recognize the Challenge

Content marketing, in a nutshell, is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing valuable and compelling content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action. While this definition is short, it encompasses many facets which need to be understood for complete adoption.

The lack of understanding what a content marketing strategy is and what it can do for a company’s marketing efforts is the major hurdle. Traditional marketing methods don’t reach today’s consumers as effectively as the more genuine and personal approach of content marketing does, even so, moving from traditional brand marketing and into a client-centric content marketing approach can be a stretch in thinking.

Russell Sparkman of FusionSpark stresses education as the key to scaling the Wall: “Get the CEO, CFO, CMO, and CIO to do as many training sessions as possible. You need a top-down emphasis on educating the C-suite.” This education could be seminar attendance, online sessions, bringing in an outside content marketing specialist to train, or pull together hard information to answer the basic questions:

  • What company goals will be impacted by content marketing, or, what will content marketing do for us?
  • What kinds of data and metrics can we measure to see progress?
  • Who’s going to make this happen and create all the content?
  • What will this cost?
  • How long before we see results?

Answer the Challenge
Setting specific goals for content marketing is the first step. Since content marketing feeds both search and social behavior, goals in the areas of brand awareness and visibility, engagement, and inbound opportunities will be impacted by content marketing. Increased website traffic, email signups, lead generation, lower cost-per-conversion, sales or subscriptions, likes, shares, and retweets, are some evidences of success. Content marketing will expand the company’s digital finger print and enlarge the client base.

Analytics and metrics need to be introduced and explained to illustrate that there will be measurable results. Demonstrate how the content connects marketing to revenue by having key performance indicators (KPIs) and action steps in place that allow for tracking from initial customer engagement to final sale or subscription. Starting from existing benchmarks, progress can be measured over time as the content engages and drives customer behavior. Google Anayltics is a great tool for tracking and measuring activity; Facebook also has its own analytics as does WordPress and other platforms, depending on where you publish.

Present a realistic budget for the content marketing strategy. It takes people, time and money. For a fair assessment, you need to consider employees’ time as well as actual out-of-pocket expenses of the content marketing strategy. First, review your in-house resources to see who can fulfill the roles of executing the content marketing strategy. Do you have sufficient managers, writers and editors to run the program? If not, you can hire new personnel or contract with outside agencies as needed. Will you be purchasing software or tools to facilitate and manage your content marketing lifecycle? All costs must be factored in.

Beginning a content marketing strategy is a commitment, it’s not an “overnight success,” it generally takes time to see results. Jon Wuebben of Content Launch explains: “You have to budget for it; you can start small and work your way to a bigger budget over time. The ROI is there and if you have to see ROI, I understand that, especially if you’re in the C-suite. After three months of content marketing, if you’re really doing it right and embracing it, you’re going to see an ROI. You’ll see a significant ROI over time, especially six months or a year down the road.”

Final Arguments

If you love statistics, Lee Odden’s article, 100+ B2B Content Marketing Statistics, shares lots of statistics such as: 91% of B2B marketers use content marketing; 87% of B2B marketers use social media to distribute content, up from 74% in 2011; B2B marketers use an average of five social media sites to distribute content. These figures come from the extensive B2B Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report that is a cooperative effort between Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs and loaded with information.

Keep in mind that it’s not all about the numbers. You might be able to give an executive a stack of charts proving the ROI for content marketing, however, most of these individuals are looking to see if they can trust your suggestions, your budget analysis, or the company they might outsource the work to. Your ability to deliver on your commitments or by finding a trustworthy company that has proof of concept will go a long way.

Seeing is believing, so presenting some success stories of content marketing will help to bring it all together. A recent Forbes article, 5 Big Brands Confirm That Content Marketing Is The Key To Your Consumer, highlights the experiences of Virgin Mobile, American Express, Marriott, L’Oreal and Vanguard. They wrap up with five tips from Lisa LaCour of Outbrain on developing a successful and sustainable content marketing strategy:

  1. A content strategy should focus on existing customers as well as prospects. Content marketing is a great tool to create brand affinity but can also be powerful in building a new audience of potential customers.
  2. When it comes to content marketing, brands should think beyond direct response tactics and focus more on the top of the funnel customer engagement and awareness. Content marketing is a great tool for thought leadership, education and customer relations. Define the appropriate analytics so that the ROI can be measured effectively.
  3. An amplification strategy should be a key tactic in a content strategy. Once the content is created, social networks can be used to distribute, but you should also make sure to distribute it out to others who may not know it exists. Actively promote your content.
  4. Invest in the appropriate resources to meet your objectives.
  5. Stay honest and true to the brand

Join the Conversation :

  • Do you have company-wide buy-in for sustaining a content marketing strategy?
  • What information offered here helps with planning a presentation to sell the idea of content marketing?
  • How long did it take for you to start seeing some result from your content marketing initiative?