By Arnie Kuenn published August 21, 2014

How to Pitch the Power of Content Marketing to Your Boss

hands framing eyesContent marketing has proven to be a successful venture for businesses across industries and verticals, which explains the year-over-year growth in its adoption. However, there are still many companies that have yet to jump on the content marketing bandwagon. This is due to a multitude of reasons, one being lack of support from key stakeholders in the organization.

Though most marketers are coming to recognize the value that a well-planned and executed content marketing strategy can deliver, when it comes to getting buy-in from the boss, many are still being met with resistance. And like all “new” marketing initiatives, the boss needs to be sold on the idea in order for it to trickle down and get implemented.

I often hear from our content marketing workshop students that when they get back to the office, they have difficulty convincing management to invest in content marketing. Marketers in this situation need to find a way to persuade bosses to get behind the concept of content marketing and build a strategy before partaking in any content creation and distribution plans.

Admittedly, this is quite a lofty goal — and one that just may not be achievable for many businesses. Without proof that a content marketing strategy can work for your business specifically, it’s unlikely that a hesitant boss can be convinced to commit to the discipline, let alone allocate a substantial budget to it.

For businesses where the value of content marketing may not be as clear-cut as others, it may be worth aiming to get buy-in for a pilot or test program, rather than trying to get your boss to go “all-in” at once. However, while this may seem like a smaller battle, it won’t necessarily be an easier one to win — unless you are well prepared with a solid plan that positions content marketing as something well worth committing to.

Preparing the pitch

Personalization: If you want your pitch to truly make an impact, you’ll need to make it relatable. Instead of crafting a pitch to “the boss,” think about him/her as a person with personal interests and needs, as well as business goals. Try to find “common ground” topics that your boss is interested in, and relate them back to content marketing.

For example, maybe your boss is an avid skier who is constantly trying new resorts and equipment. Ask if they have ever researched a new pair of skis and from there, made a decision to try them. What about a new ski resort: Have reviews or written guides ever influenced a weekend choice? Show your boss the path that people take from content consumption to making a purchase decision by way of a relatable example.

Education: Does your boss know what content marketing is? If not, basic education on its techniques must be large part of your pitch. Your boss surely won’t buy into something he/she doesn’t understand.

However, even if your boss is familiar with content marketing, you will still need to make sure you are both on the same page. Many C-suite executives have heard of content marketing, but they may not understand exactly how it works, or how it can work for their business.

Don’t just explain how content marketing works from a tactical point of view, either. Describe the philosophy of content marketing — the helping, teaching, educating, and entertaining aspects — as well. Try to tie that back to the personalized example you started the pitch with to truly emphasize the impact content marketing can have. This leads me to my next point…

Speak to the company’s goals

Once you know your boss recognizes the concept and value potential of content marketing, be prepared to explain why it makes sense for your business, specifically, and how your customers can benefit from the content you create. What business goals can content marketing help to achieve?

In addition to increased revenue, common content marketing goals include:

  • Brand awareness
  • Thought leadership
  • Increasing the number of marketing-qualified and sales-qualified leads
  • Improving conversion rates
  • Lowering the cost of customer acquisition
  • Enhancing customer service
  • Better customer retention and up-sell

Once you’ve identified and presented your case on the marketing goals that are most relevant for your business, provide market research and statistics that back up your assertions that content marketing can help to accomplish them. It will also be helpful to give examples of the ways your competitors are using content marketing to realize their business objectives, and deliver case studies that speak to ROI.

Defusing objections

Objection handling is often the most difficult part of convincing executives to invest in anything new, and this is no different with content marketing. After all, in business it almost always comes down to dollars and cents, so in order to get budget allocated to content marketing, you’ll need to be able to tackle objections head on.

Depending on the industry, business, and boss, the objections you might encounter could be across the board. However, there are a few that almost always come up in the content marketing discussion:

We can’t afford this: Often, when higher-ups are pitched new marketing ideas, all they can see are dollar signs — and not in a positive way. The first thing most bosses think is, “How much is this going to cost me?

However, content marketing doesn’t need to be expensive, and you can make content marketing work on any budget. In fact, content marketing costs 62 percent less than other traditional marketing initiatives, while it generates about three times as many leads.

However, your boss will want details, and you’ll likely need to go more in-depth about how to make content marketing a cost-effective strategy:

  • Tap into internal resources: Your current staff can certainly help brainstorm content ideas. Both client- and customer-facing employees can provide insight into common problems or questions customers have, which often make great topics for content. Also, employees with specialized areas of expertise can be leveraged as subject matter experts for idea generation, and may even want to take a direct role in content creation (participating in interviews, videos, etc.).
  • Outsource your resources: If your boss is worried about taking time away from employees’ regular responsibilities to make content marketing work, suggest using outsourced resources for support. Be it through freelance help or a partnership with a content marketing agency, there is an abundance of outside resources available to assist with content creation and strategy.
  • Discuss potential savings: Don’t only discuss how much content marketing costs — bring attention to the potential savings it can afford. As content marketing can drive organic traffic to your website, you may be able to spend less on paid search. Also, brands utilizing inbound marketing save more than $14 per customer acquisition. You can even discuss content repurposing and show your boss how one piece of content can be used in several ways, which makes the most out of the initial investment.

We aren’t interesting enough: Though many bosses may think their business or industry isn’t interesting enough for content marketing to work, that just isn’t the case. No matter the industry, consumers are going to have issues that need to be solved and questions that must be addressed. These challenges provide the opportunity for your business to create content that can help. Show your boss that there are endless content possibilities by coming up with a few ideas of your own, and illustrate how that content could help your customers.

In conclusion

Finally, you will need to explain your proposed, strategy, implementation, success metrics, etc. Once you’ve made your pitch and have laid out your plan, all that is left to do is ask! Ask for buy-in for a test program, and be prepared to discuss how much money and time it is going to cost. 

Though convincing your boss to go all-in, or even to pilot content marketing, are no easy feats, if you’re prepared with all of the information discussed above, you should be able to present a pretty persuasive argument.

How did you convince your boss to embrace content marketing? And what objections did you encounter? I’d love to hear about your experiences with this issue.

Convincing the C-Suite to support content marketing doesn’t have to be intimidating. Check out our starter kit, Mastering the Buy-in Conversation on Content Marketing, for stats, tips, and essential talking points.

Cover image by George Hodan via Publicdomainpictures.net

Author: Arnie Kuenn

Arnie Kuenn is the CEO of Vertical Measures, a content marketing agency with an SEO foundation, focused on helping their clients get more traffic, more leads, and more business. Arnie has held executive positions in the world of new technologies and marketing for more than 25 years. He is a frequent speaker and author of Content Marketing Works. In 2014, Arnie was honored as the Interactive Person of the Year in Arizona. You can find Arnie on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and LinkedIn.

Other posts by Arnie Kuenn

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  • http://www.fisheye.tv John Nycz

    Spot on Arnie – just ran into this issue, ironically with a media production company. Could not shift the mindset, even though their core service offerings were event and video production — the no.1 and no. 3 tactics employed by content marketers. The shoeless cobblers limps on!

    • Arnie Kuenn

      Hi John – yes very familiar with the cobblers children – we just got our website all mobile friendly ;-). Well hopefully they will see the light — soon.

  • Sarah Russell

    This is exactly what I’ve been looking for! Thank you. Personalisation is a great touch, I’ve always found that it works better to humanise the approach to social media in the following way:

    “Would you walk into a room at a party and start shouting about yourself and ignoring others in the room? No? Well the same applies for posting on your social accounts, don’t just shout about who you are and what you do. Engage in conversation and let people decide whether they like you or not. Chances are, if you’re solving their problems, offering advice and entertainment, they will!”

    • Arnie Kuenn

      Thank you. Yes, it is all about being a real person and relating to everyone as a real person.

  • KingB408

    You mentioned “Content Marketing” 39 times (Once in the title, 36 times in the article, and three times in the italicized footnote). However it wasn’t until the 12th mention that you provide a link for “What content marketing is.” I’m curious to know if this was a strategy? Intentional? Is there a mechanism you’re relying on (i.e.repetition)? I would like to learn more about why your article was written this way, and the strengths behind the reasons. Thank you!

    • Arnie Kuenn

      King – I really wish you had an avatar and a real name behind that comment. It would seem more personal. To answer your question, I have no plan or methodology behind the use of keywords and links in any of the articles I write. I don’t count them, I don’t plan on them, I just write. I recommend you don’t waste time counting them either.

      • Justin King

        There you go. :)

        I understand “just writing,” it is what I do if I’m penning a journal or an email or a comment on a message board…

        But not a published article. Actually, word usage IS something that needs to be paid attention to, and hardly a “waste of time.” Hence, the reason I was asking the question, as I’m always trying to learn new and/or better and/or different ways of doing things and the methods or reasons behind them.

        So maybe in this situation the student can become the teacher and recommend to you that you DO spend your time counting them, and evaluate word and link usage in your published articles.

        Just a thought. Otherwise, the article was useful and educational, so I thank you for taking the time to publish it.

        ~Justin

        • Arnie Kuenn

          Justin,
          Really appreciate the response (and avatar).

          If you have metrics you can share that demonstrates real benefits from specific word count and links (based on causation) – I would love to see it.

          But I honestly think too many people are focused on “SEO” type metrics instead of just creating the best content they can. Of course you have to make sure you get the SEO basics right, but I believe it’s the actual content that matters, not keyword density or any similar metrics.

          We might just end up agreeing to disagree here.
          Arnie

  • Nidhin Samuel

    Thanks for the info! Love it!

  • Sonal Moraes

    Great read! Because Content Marketing only shows results with time, it’s so hard to have others see the value in it who are new to the concept. I think this is a nice way to position the importance of getting content marketing established in the first place. Really helpful, Thanks!

  • http://www.tone.co.uk/ Anthony

    Cracking advice Arnie. I like how you give scenarios such as “We can’t afford this” and “We aren’t interesting enough”. Both I hear quite often from friends and potential clients. I’ll be sure to reference this post the next time I hear either of those.

    My colleague has just published a similar post to this but more from a statistical angle focusing on blogging. I think it goes hand in hand in with some of the points you make http://www.tone.co.uk/5-things-about-blogging-that-your-boss-needs-to-know/ What do you think?