So apart from GrowTraffic, I’ve worked as a marketer, marketing manager and head of marketing in several businesses during my sixteen years as a corporate marketer and over those years I’ve had to fight over and over again to get management to buy in and invest in content marketing.
As a marketer, you’ll understand the benefits of content marketing. But how do you go about convincing your senior management team?
I started getting blogs out there years ago. A long time before we started thinking about content marketing as a distinct tactic. I kept on blogging because I could see the benefit of it from an SEO perspective. And then it wasn’t long after I started seeing the SEO benefits that I started thinking about it from a more strategic marketing perspective.
Of course, content marketing has really taken hold in the marketing manager’s lexicon and has moved from something of a buzzword to a mainstay of our tactical arsenal.
I’m not going to bore you with the number of marketers who say they do some form of content marketing. It’s a high percentage. But there are still a lot of companies out there that have yet to really implement any kind of content marketing as part of their marketing activities.
As part of GrowTraffic’s approach to SEO, we generally implement a form of content marketing, to provide a sustainable, measurable and delivery orientated approach that can easily be sold in. The thing is, most managers in businesses will have heard of SEO, some of them might have an overview of what it’s about, fewer will really get it. For many of those managers, content marketing is a new concept and one most or at least many, won’t have any understanding of.
When dealing with marketing managers we regularly get asked what are the best ways to convince management to invest in content marketing. We’ve also had to help them work with their management team in order to demonstrate value and the importance of content marketing for their ongoing marketing efforts.
When thinking about how to convince your management team there are a lot of things to take into account, and it’s not one size fits all, but I’ll try to have a look at what you can do to better convince your management to invest in content marketing. You’re going to have to make the business case for it and you’re going to have to be prepared to pitch the concept.
So if you’re going to pitch content marketing to management, the first place to start is defining what you want to get out of the meeting. You need a goal. You’re going to have to assume that the management in the room has no understanding of content marketing. Most of the people in the room may question your abilities as a marketer or question your level of expertise. And let’s be honest, content marketing requires a chunky budget if it’s done right and it’s going to take some time before results are seen. That’s the sell! So don’t go in asking for absolutely massive amounts of money.
If this is the first time you’re talking to your management about content marketing as a strategy you’ve like to implement it may be best to talk to them about it on a campaign level. Content marketing for most businesses should be part of the business as usual marketing activity, but if your business has never done content marketing or they’ve had a bad experience with it you’re going to struggle to convince people about your unproven strategy.
So chunk up content marketing into manageable and palatable parts. Let management know that you’d like to run a pilot programme first before heading headlong into content marketing on an ongoing basis. And remember to focus on what the benefits of content marketing are for your business, at all times bringing in the other managers and departments in the room into the conversation. This is about how content marketing will benefit the whole business and not just the marketing team. Be creative but genuine.
Overcoming objections to content marketing
When you’re pitching to management you should be prepared for a certain amount of pushback. Before you enter the room you need to explore all the objections someone may have to content marketing and what things are going to result in a definitive no.
Content marketing costs too much
The first thing people are bound to object to is the cost. Most people are scared by the cost of marketing when it’s laid out in front of them. Bear in mind that its part of management’s job to keep the costs down and only spend on the things they feel are necessary for the continuation of the business.
Because content marketing is likely to be unknown to your management team you are asking them to take a punt on its implementation in your business. Bear in mind that you will have to let them know the cost of the content you want to get produced in your test and then factor in the type of return you could expect to get from that over a certain time period.
I would suggest to a management team testing a well researched and structured knowledge base. I’d tell them I need a minimum number of articles to make up knowledge base – let’s say it’s 100 articles – then I’d tell them the return will come somewhere in year two or three. This is important because your management team already think like this when they put their plans together for the business. Don’t go in there assuming you need to give them a quick return. If they can plan in three-year blocks, so can you.
When discussing the costs ensure you discuss the costs of paid and organic search – including the activity you do now. Then demonstrate how content marketing helps SEO and can be used to benefit paid search. I mentioned discussing the benefits to every department, well that content you produce should be being used by not only the marketing team but also by the sales team and by the customer service team and it should be stitched into relevant points within your customer’s buyer journey. This in itself could see a significant reduction in the need for manpower in the future.
You can’t do content marketing in our industry
I hear this all the time. Too many people think that their industry is boring and there’s nothing to create content about. Well, guess what, if you’ve developed a service or a product it overcomes a problem or pain point of a potential customer, and as such you’ve already got things to write about. From that point on you can expand out your content. The other great thing about this objection is you can always position it as an opportunity, if no one else in your industry is doing it because they all think it’s too boring then you’ll have first mover advantage.
Content marketing is about educating your competition
When you’re running a content marketing campaign you are effectively giving away information. More than that, you are paying to give away that information. Because management is in place to protect the interests of the business they may rightly say that you’re giving away some of the IP of the business. Of course, this is true in some senses, but because of the way goods and services are purchased, a good part of that journey is about educating the customer. In order to do that you are going to have to put a lot of things out there and that is going to be available to your competitors. Personally, I say “so what?” If we are attracting more traffic and customers then they will have to start doing the same if they want to keep up. And it may be that they decide they want to collaborate with your business. It’s not 2007 anymore, we don’t have to see other businesses in the same industry as the enemy, we’re all friendly rivals and we all do it a bit differently.
How to pitch content marketing to management
Remember the old saying proper preparation prevents piss poor performance. It holds up when you are pitching new strategies into management you’re definitely going to have to prepare if you want to pitch content marketing.
Remember the five key areas of a good pitch:
- Make it personal
- Education the audience
- Give examples of competitors or aspirational businesses
- Demonstrate planning
- Focus on potential returns
Hopefully, your pitch goes to plan and you are able to convince your management to invest in content marketing as a test. Once you’ve got the test going you’re going to want to up the activity and turn it from a pilot campaign into part of the business as usual activity. I would suggest pointing to the successes you’ve had with the content marketing pilot – or at least demonstrate the green shoots – and then go in for the hard sell about why it’s essential to have this as part of your mix.
I’ve pitched content marketing both in my role as head of marketing in a number of tech businesses but also in my role here at GrowTraffic. If you are looking for an outsource solution, then give us a call. Even if you just want to discuss your options with someone who has been there I’d be happy to chat it through.