By Roanne Neuwirth published January 5, 2015

Start Small to Show Content Marketing Value to Your C-Suite

JustDoIt_Art_Neuwirth Though content marketing has firmly established itself as critical for connecting with customers across industries and companies of all sizes and types, many marketers still struggle internally to get resources and attention from the executive team to get a program off the ground. Some company leaders fear letting go of traditional views about how marketing should operate; reallocating dollars to content marketing seems risky. Others view creating an idea culture in a product-focused environment with skepticism. And spending your time and effort to build the case for content marketing takes up scarce resources that should be spent elsewhere.

If you want to build a content marketing program but face reluctance, don’t waste time creating big plans and trying to sell the concept. Instead, jump in, start small, and show some early results. The support will follow. Here are a few ideas to catch the eye of your C-suite and build momentum, without requiring large-scale resources or buy-in up front.

Co-create some great stories with your clients

Your own clients – particularly those clients who are your company’s biggest advocates – are a powerful source of good content, and what they say matters to your senior leaders. The issues they face represent an important voice of your marketplace, as well as the value your company brings in solving those issues. If you approach a few of these clients to extract insights and work with them to create a point of view, you can develop a powerful set of stories relatively easily that will intrigue your own executives. And of course, these stories offer a valuable tool for conversation with other clients and prospects.

Here are a couple of examples we have seen work well as a starting point:

Leverage an existing client event or program

Begin with one of your upcoming events where a client or two is speaking. Your clients have already bought into the idea of sharing on the topic … and so accessing their thinking is simple to do in the context of the ongoing program-planning effort. Build off a case study that a client is presenting, creating a more robust story with outcomes and lessons learned, highlighting your client’s success. Turn a panel discussion into an article, showcasing the participants’ perspectives on the topic and their implications for driving value. These pieces demonstrate the role and connection of content to the broader communication and engagement efforts within the company, and can be used for follow-up and continued conversation with clients who attended to increase the impact of the event.

Interview a few of your biggest client advocates on a hot-button issue

Take advantage of an event in the marketplace that is relevant to your business and your clients’ key priorities – such as a regulatory change or a high-profile merger impacting their industry – and interview a couple of your key clients on their view on the implications. Create a commentary that highlights the shared challenge and outlines potential approaches for others to consider in responding. The timeliness of the issue provides a good excuse for quick outreach to the clients, and a good opportunity to reinforce your company’s credibility to address emerging and evolving challenges of concern to your client base.

Create a content champion on the inside

Creating change in an organization requires a well-placed champion to help carry the message and promote the cause. Making the case for content marketing is no different. Your C-suite will listen to what one of their respected peers has to say, and be more inclined to pay attention if he or she is involved in the content creation and speaks to its value. Befriend one or two of the organization’s leading senior experts – particularly someone who prizes opportunities to speak and share their knowledge. Make it easy for the expert to extend and expand on work already being done by helping to develop an article, a blog post, or a case study based on ideas the expert already has started to progress. No need to reinvent the wheel; focus on developing the thinking and extracting the relevance to your clients’ key issues. And if you can link it back to the client perspectives that you have helped to create (as discussed earlier) even better. The key is making it simple – if you are doing the heavy lifting, your experts can provide interesting points of view and thought-provoking insights without getting off their track of running the business.

Publicize and market the results

Finally, as you begin to get traction, share and showcase the content you have co-created with clients and your internal colleagues. Highlight the stories on internal websites, newsletters, and other forums, and include pieces in the packages you give out to help the sales and client teams have conversations. Even if you set modest goals for the volume of content you can create, a steady drumbeat of these stories will start to infiltrate the consciousness of senior executives and client-facing leaders, creating the pull to ramp up the program.

This article originally appeared in the December 2014 issue of Chief Content Officer. Sign up to receive your free subscription to our bi-monthly magazine.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/CCO

Author: Roanne Neuwirth

Roanne Neuwirth is client-focused marketing leader, passionate about helping companies engage their executive clients and build deep relationships. She has more than 20 years of B2B experience driving business value through client-focused marketing and research programs. Neuwirth has worked with a wide-ranging client base, including IBM, GTE Sprint, Wells Fargo, and Chevron. Follow her at @RoanneNeuwirth.

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  • Stephen Kenwright

    Part of the problem I’ve experienced is that content marketing is very much on the agenda for the C-Suite, so budget is being shifted straight over because SEO programs, for example, aren’t getting attention.

    …but I think you’re absolutely right about showing results internally Roanne – it’s a lot easier to get excited about great content; proving it’s working certainly helps to get sign-off, if not buy-in.

    Thanks!

  • Shai Geoola

    Great article, thanks for sharing Roanne!

  • David McGeough

    Great advice for companies thinking about content in their marketing plans. Its essential now.

  • Roanne Neuwirth

    Thanks for the input and feedback all of you – I appreciate you reading the article and sharing your thoughts!