By Ryan Skinner published April 10, 2013

9 Convincing Arguments to Win Your Content Marketing Budget

hangout on air-content marketing budgetOn March 15, three of the biggest names in content marketing strategy came together at a Google+ Hangout on Air to talk about something we all want more of:


Specifically, they discussed ways that marketers who are keen on content strategies can win the backing they need — and the budgetary support they need — to proceed with a plan.

The result was more insights than we thought we could cram in 30 minutes — like an Imelda Marcos-sized closet of content marketing persuasion.

The content marketing context 

Early this year, my company kicked off a series of conversations with some of our content marketing heroes, who gathered to discuss a hot topic. This installment of the Content Marketing Hangouts featured Joe Chernov, Michael Brenner, and Ardath Albee, with Velocity’s Stan Woods as host.

The 9 nuggets that generate content marketing investment 

Without further ado, here are the highlights of our experts’ recommendations (with a direct quote, its source, the context, and a time-stamp, for easy access):

1. “I got started with content marketing by seeing it as a PR hack. Content was a Trojan horse for communications.” — Joe Chernov

Joe describes how he got started in content marketing via PR, and his discovery that old techniques were not working because people were not interested in engaging with the latest press release about a product or new hire (6:06).

2. “The real problem at a large corporation isn’t to get funding to do something new, but to get people to stop doing what isn’t working.” — Michael Brenner

Michael shares one of the early challenges that people in companies like his (SAP) find in getting started with content marketing (10:10).

3. “Don’t force the organization into making a false choice between the marketing they’re already doing and the marketing you want to see them doing.” — Joe Chernov

Joe describes how a strategic investment in content should be able to lift a company’s investments in all other areas of marketing, thus making it much easier to buy into (10:47).

4. “One of the things I see a lot is that people can’t get their heads wrapped around the change in terminology.”  — Ardath Albee

Ardath describes how content marketers need to adopt the terminology of conventional marketers in order to set a common context, and effect change from there (12:37).

5. “The way to sell content marketing at the pilot stage is by attaching some vanity metrics to it, so you can show that it worked; there was a cause and an effect.” — Joe Chernov

Joe offers marketers a way to get their projects going without building the massive ROI case — though he’s quick to add that an ROI case must eventually be built and delivered on (17:35).

6. “What I was able to show to instill fear in the minds of our executives was the number of conversations that were happening around our solution areas that we weren’t involved in, at all.” — Michael Brenner

Michael describes how, by demonstrating SAP’s lack of presence in conversations about big data, SAP leaders who were eager for growth in data opened themselves up to new ideas (18:30).

7. “What we were able to do was develop content programs in parallel with more conventional programs, then show how we generated greater return engagement.” — Ardath Albee

Ardath shares how you can win the day for content marketing, not by generating an absolute take-up, but rather by beating comparable investments (19:53).

8. “If you have a good foundation, good personas, a good strategy, and realistic expectations, you can make enough of a point in a three-month pilot to get an extension.” — Ardath Albee

Here, Ardath describes how businesses struggling within the quarterly revenue cycle can manage to get funding for a content strategy (24:00).

9. “One of the reasons why many companies struggle to adopt content marketing is that they don’t know where to put it.” — Joe Chernov

Joe observes that many companies don’t know where to fit content marketing within their organization, vis-à-vis the web team, PR, demand gen, social, etc. (25:12).

How many of you have used these techniques to win budget? Have any successes to share, or pitfalls that you can help your fellow content marketers to avoid? Let me know in the comments.

For more tips on getting the support you need to bring content marketing to your organization, read “Managing Content Marketing,” by Robert Rose and Joe Pulizzi.

Author: Ryan Skinner

Ryan Skinner works at the content marketing agency Velocity. You can find or follow Ryan on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+.

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  • April Dunford

    Great article.
    I really liked Ardath’s point about different terminology. I’ve seen even the word “content” itself get some folks really confused, where the examples of what we would call content weren’t confusing at all.
    Joe’s point about where content sits in the organization (and the related question of what budget bucket does it come from) is another one I’ve see at larger companies. In a lot of ways, I think startup are doing amazing things with content largely because they don’t have to deal with organizational silos as much.

  • Jason Dea

    Ultimately do you see most of this money going towards headcount? Or are there other investments you turn to?

    In my experience execs can be as keen on content as anyone else, however they misjudge how resource intensive content creation really is. I’ve done my fair share of blog and whitepaper writing as well as whiteboard videos. But as a product marketer by trade, content creation while interesting is not my core function, and the content that I do create takes a significant time investment to produce at high quality.

  • Jason Murphy

    “The real problem at a large corporation isn’t to get funding to do something new, but to get people to stop doing what isn’t working.” — Michael Brenner .. considering printing this on the back of my card.

  • Jason Murphy

    Considering printing this on the back of my card just to be a wiseguy, haha: “The real problem at a large corporation isn’t to get funding to do something new, but to get people to stop doing what isn’t working.” — Michael Brenner

  • Dan Sfdj PalmBeach

    Great article and videos. If you have a spectacular Content Marketing Solution for a large companing ( B to C) , what is the best way to LEARN the important aspects of thier Content Strategies, and those of their Competitors? Is there a resource better than just spending hours or days trying to find every thing they are doing on FB, Youtube, Pinterest, etc? Something that condenses this for Content Marketers? And if not, maybe someone in the “reach” of the Content Marketing Institute, might like to create the Strategy Equivalent of a Simmons or Birch Report for Content Strategy Marketing by large Advertisers 🙂

  • Ryan Skinner

    Great comments all. Glad the piece (well, the hangout) inspired. My 2 cents…

    April: Cheers. The terminology and organizational problems feel related. “Content” is a horrible moniker, like any other bad compromise, if you ask me. I look forward to the day when content’s taken for granted and we talk only about users’ experiences and publishers’ purposes. Start-ups think like that, and forgo the org’l hang-ups. There’s something to that, I think.

    Dan: Glad you liked it/them. You can do lots of stuff without putting in the hours, but then it’s usually no good. There’s no route around learning. Content strategy principles can be generalized; the content strategy for one company cannot. There are a number of ways to get to the principles, such as this blog. We’re a B2B agency, but we’ve got lots of content marketing resources that can help (content marketing workbook, content marketing strategy checklist, etc.). Hope that helps.

    Jason Murphy: Brenner’s follow-up point (number 6) seals the deal. Show them that it’s not working. I loved that.

    Jason Dea: A content strategy’s not always going to go headcount-heavy. Some outfits might benefit from a headcount-light curational approach with strong paid promotional, SEO and automation. Usually, I’d say start with one or two really great people (an ambitious ex-blogger type with the new information economy in his DNA, an entrepreneurial DIY attitude and a love for your field), then let them guide your next steps based on what’s working.