How To Convince Management To Invest In Content Marketing
Having trouble convincing your boss of the benefits of content marketing? Columnist Arnie Kuenn has some valuable advice.
Over the past few years, content marketing has become quite the buzzword, with thousands of blog posts, articles and books published based the subject. This is not without good reason. It continues to grow in adoption and has proven to be a successful strategy for businesses across industries.
In fact, 44 percent of B2B marketers and 39 percent of B2C marketers now report having a documented content marketing strategy in place. But what about the other 50+ percent of marketers? There are still many companies that have yet to get their feet wet with content marketing, and one of the main reasons this occurs is due to lack of buy-in from upper management.
I’ve spoken about the value of marketing through content creation and distribution at many conferences across the country, and have taught many marketers at various workshops. Attendees and students are always very receptive, though one of the most frequently asked questions asked during my sessions continues to be, “How can I convince my boss that content marketing is worth the investment?”
Of course, there isn’t one sure-fire answer to this question, as every company has different goals and challenges. But there are steps marketers can take when preparing to pitch management on content marketing to ensure they cover all of their bases.
Have Clear Goals For Your Pitch
Marketers preparing to pitch management on content marketing must go in with a clear understanding of the meeting’s goal. Don’t go in expecting the boss to allocate substantial budget to this “unproven” (in your company, at least) strategy.
Instead, ask for a pilot program to test the waters, and see how the strategy can work for your business. As well-known marketing consultant and author Jay Baer has said, “You shouldn’t go all in with content marketing. You should go partially in on what content marketing can do for your company.”
Understand Why Bosses Say “No”
Handling objections is often the hardest part of convincing anyone to do anything new, and the same goes for trying to convince your boss to invest in content marketing. It’s best to understand the most common reasons why management says, “no,” and learn to address those concerns in a way that could possibly turn it into a “yes.”
“It’s Too Expensive”
One of the most common objections to new marketing ideas is the cost. After all, executives are tasked with keeping the business running and driving revenue, which requires being extremely cognizant of the bottom line.
You’ll be asking management to fund a strategy, albeit a test run, that has yet to be a proven return-on-investment for the business. Because of this, you will need to be prepared to break down just how much content marketing is going to cost and how to potentially offset the price.
- Internal Resources: Depending on the business you are in, you may already have access to all the resources necessary in-house for a pilot program. Do you employ graphic designers? What about copywriters? Both designers and writers are key components to content creation. What about sales staff, or customer service representatives? The people who spend the most time with your customers will be able to provide content ideas as they understand what type of information your audience is looking for.
- Outsourcing: If management is concerned that internal resources will be spending too much time on content marketing in addition to their regular responsibilities, outsourcing some aspects of your program is a great option. Hiring freelancers is an easy way to get high-quality work when you need it, rather than having staff take time away from their workdays to help with the effort. Additionally, there are many marketing agencies available for hire that can help with everything from strategy and content creation to distribution and promotion.
- Potential Savings: Don’t only discuss how much money content marketing will cost — discuss how much money it could save. Through content marketing, businesses have been able to improve their bottom line from cost-efficiencies and savings. Consider these possible benefits:
- Increase organic website traffic and save on paid search efforts
- Reduce customer service resource needs by serving customers through high-quality, compelling content
- Save on customer acquisition costs through efficient and smart marketing
“We’re Too Boring”
I’ve heard it before, and I’m sure I’ll hear it again: “My industry isn’t interesting enough to make content marketing work, right?” Wrong!
Content marketing can be successful in any industry if done right. Customers, both current and future, are always going to have questions about your products/services or the industry in which you operate. Be prepared with common customer questions and problems, and explain how your company can create content that can help.
“We Shouldn’t Share Our Secret Sauce”
The caveat to content marketing is providing something of worth for free, because it provides the best experience for your audience and can influence purchase decisions. This scares many executives. Why should you share your secrets at all — and worse, for free?
The truth is, your audience will get the answers to their questions somewhere — and if you don’t provide it, it will be from your competitors. Instead of keeping your “secrets” close to the vest, you should educate, entertain and help your audience through the buy cycle with content.
Prepare Your Pitch
If you can personalize your sales pitch, educate the bosses, provide examples and lay out your plan, you stand a better chance of convincing management to invest in content marketing.
Like any sales pitch, in order to make an impact on your audience, you’ll need to personalize it. One approach might be to find something personal about your boss that you can relate back to content marketing. Consider your boss’ interests and hobbies.
Say your boss loves fishing, and is constantly trying new equipment and locations. Ask, your boss if he or she has ever researched online before purchasing a new fishing rod, or trying a new fishing hole. Illustrate the path that people take from online research to making an actual purchase. This can help show the path your customers would take when making purchase decisions of their own.
If your boss doesn’t even know what content marketing is, education will need to be emphasized in your pitch. However, even if your boss does “know” what content marketing is, it’s important to be sure you both have similar understandings. As I mentioned earlier, content marketing has become a buzzword — so it’s crucial to explain what exactly it entails, how it works and what it can do for your business.
To do this, be prepared to explain how employing content marketing as part of your overall online marketing strategy can help to achieve business goals, including increasing revenue, higher conversion rates, better customer service and thought-leadership.
3. Provide Examples
Showing examples of how your competitors are utilizing content to reach audiences is sure to pique management’s interest. Find out what your direct competitors are doing in terms of content, look for gaps, and explain how your company can fill the holes.
Additionally, provide samples of competitor content that in your eyes falls flat, and illustrate how your company can do it better. Also, be armed with case studies to showcase the impact content marketing has had on other businesses in the industry.
4. Lay Out Your Plan
Have a strategy in place to share with management. This shows how serious you are about this initiative. Cover all aspects of your content marketing strategy including:
- Implementation: How will you implement your strategy within your organization? Who will “own” each step of the process? What resources are necessary to be successful?
- Content Creation: What type of content will you be creating? What topics will your content discuss?
- Distribution & Promotion: Where will your content live? What promotional tactics will be used?
- Measurement: How will you measure ROI? What benchmarks are necessary? What will the reporting look like?
All That’s Left Is To Ask!
Once you’ve laid out your plan, all that’s left to do is ask! Hopefully, by going into your pitch understanding common objections, you will be able to successfully combat any doubts management might have – and convince your boss to test content marketing.
Were you met with resistance when pitching content marketing? How did you convince your boss?Image credits: Vertical Measures, Kevin Dooley, Steve Bowbrick and Infusionsoft