The most successful content marketers are the ones that have executive buy-in for their efforts while those without complete support are still struggling to create the most comprehensive, winning strategies. Knowing that you need the nod from your management is one thing, knowing how to get it is another. On a recent episode of FOUND Friday, GinzaMetrics’ COO, Erin O’Brien, and I discussed some specific tactics and strategies for getting your executive team on board.
Be Clear and Concise
Start with the facts. Let your executives know exactly where your marketing efforts are working and where your proposed approach will show improvement. Be prepared to back up your statements with data and research that you’ve already collected.
“Folks on the executive team are busy and typically focused on top-line goals,that 60,000 foot view of the organization, so it’s really important to approach any conversation with them with a few things in mind,” suggests Erin.
- A clear benefit statement including the goal you have set and metrics you plan to meet
- A clear statement of what you want from them – be specific about how they can help
- The next steps you plan to take once things are in motion
Having buy-in from members of other departments, or even other members of the executive team who already know the value of a content marketing program will help you make the case for your plan. Presenting a clear,unified message along with a defined path for moving forward will help you get what you need from busy members of upper management.
Dazzle Them With Data
Use data to show that content marketing is the best way to get ROI for your efforts. Put your traditional marketing efforts to the same test as your content marketing efforts and put the data side by side. There’s a lot of data out there, so make sure you’re measuring your efforts in a way that can be quantified.
“I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but I want to go back to what I said on previous episodes, which is that you need to be able to know what specifically about marketing is and isn’t working. The way I like to approach this is with the medium, method, and message kind of methodology,” stated Erin.
- Medium: the channels where you distribute your content. To know if the method is working, distribute the same piece of content on various channels at the same time and measure which channels get the most conversions. For example: to measure the effectiveness of video distribution, put it on YouTube, your website landing pages, and Vimeo.
- Method: the vehicles that carry your message. The types of content you use to carry your message may include videos, white papers, slide decks, case studies, e-books, advertising, and others. Put your message out in a variety of methods and measure which one brings the most traffic to your site.
- Message: the specific verbiage, type of imagery, video style, tone, whatever it is that’s included in all of your deliverables. Try your message in a variety of methods to see what resonates with your audience.
For more information about how to create effective measurement methodologies, click here.
Create a Pilot Program
Get the buy-in you need to launch a pilot program. Presenting your plan as a short-term pilot gives the executive team a chance to see some results and also to know that they have not signed on to a long-term program with no turning back. By its very nature, content marketing is more flexible than traditional marketing programs because adjustments can be made along the way without the costs associated with changing directions with some of the traditional marketing methods.
What a pilot program looks like in your organization and how you get buy in for it will depend on your organizational size and your place within that organization. Start now by communicating with other people within the organization to get their agreement and buy-in for what you are wanting to do. In some cases, you may be able to go ahead with a pilot program and show the results as a way to get buy-in for a larger program in the future.
“If you’ve got a department or a team that you manage and can start something up and continue to accomplish other organizational goals, I’d say go ahead and go for it with a small pilot or test campaign as long as you’re not jeopardizing other programs that you are responsible for already,” recommends Erin.
Set up your pilot program so that you can show some measurable results and show how that can be expanded. Be sure to build in all the measurement on the front end and come back with ways that you can show how this can be expanded to other areas of the organization. This is where getting those other team members on board can really help you to sell your vision to upper management.
Making a Case for Improved Recruitment Efforts
When we think of marketing, we’re focused on getting new customers and, of course, the goal of any marketing program is that of ROI and conversions. But often, the goal of a growing business or even large enterprises is that of attracting and retaining the best talent.
“Recruitment is often named one of the top challenges by executives and managers. It’s time-consuming, it’s frustrating, it requires patience. Having great content can definitely help, I would say, in two specific areas,” Erin stated.
Helping prospective team members get to know your organization better. The type, amount, and tone of your content should help them understand how you see yourself as an organization, where your priorities are, and help get a feel of the culture.
A way to get new marketing members up to speed on existing content and familiar with the tone and messaging that they will be helping to create.
In addition to being a resource for prospects, your content can help attract people who are already active in your space and responding to your messaging. Being in touch with other departments in your organization, such as HR, can help you to create content that will capitalize on the reasons people seek out your organization for their employment, Those things that attract people as employees are probably also reasons that attract customers. Get your employees involved in your content creation and let them help you tell your brand’s story. As an added bonus, you may find that involving employees as evangelists will improve internal moral.
Opportunities Beyond the Top of the Sales Funnel
The sales funnel is not gone, it’s just deconstructed. Content marketing allows prospects to enter into your messaging at many different phases of the funnel. Marketing is no longer constrained to the top of the funnel.
“Content marketing is not a tactic. Content marketing is a strategic layer that touches all of your marketing efforts. Everything is content – e-mails, advertisements, videos, white papers, website landing pages, forms, FAQs, customer resources, whatever – that’s all content and it’s all measurable. So when you look at things from that perspective, you really see that this idea of content marketing is really touching every aspect of the customer journey,” notes Erin.
Start an education program about content marketing for your executive team. Let them know how marketing can benefit every point in the sales funnel including awareness, lead generation, lead nurturing, trial, or final consideration, new customer, and then retention and, hopefully, evangelism and referral. Help your executive team to start to see content as an extension, a way to move people through the funnel.
It can sometimes help to use a visual, or a single example to explain how content can be used flexibly at many points in the sales cycle. For example, video has been typically used at the top of the funnel. However, video is something that works well all the way through the funnel. Here are some ways to consider video as an asset to deliver many different messages.
- Viral marketing
- Awareness and education
- Product overview and benefits
- Case studies via customer interviews
- White board sessions
- Weekly series about topics of interest
- On boarding
“I use social as an example,” states Erin, “I know there’s a lot of conversation around social being integrated throughout the funnel and people are starting to pick that back up. But, of course, there’s this traditional idea of awareness and brand building with social. But we’ve got other ways to use social to build a brand message.”
- Customer support and success – use social to quickly Identify problems and issues
- Initial outreach
- Community building
- Product ideas and research
- Customer relationships – creating evangelism and referral
- Shared success stories
Where to Begin?
Convincing your executive team to buy into your content marketing plan is not so different than getting buy-in for any business proposal. Some things to keep in mind as you get started:
- Use data to make a case for content marketing
- Show the benefits of content marketing across departments
- Demonstrate the flexibility of content marketing
- Point out competitor successes
- Get other department managers on your side
- Start with a pilot program
- Initiate an executive education program