Marketers need to ask their fellow C-level colleagues: “Do we want to be spending money on creating average marketing that gets lost in the noise, or on investing in a voice, brand, and knowledge platform that are a cut above everyone else?”
The answer is obvious – no smart leader would ever pick the “noise” option. And yet, buy-in for content marketing investments is difficult. Internal matters of ego and politics, questions about ROI, and limited resources and budget create serious obstacles.
When you, as marketers, pitch your colleagues internally for buy-in for high-impact content marketing projects, your arguments need to be authentic and accessible.
Know the primary reasons
To get that internal buy-in, you first have to understand what the key “most valuable assets” are that comprise the ROI of quality content marketing:
- Content endurance: Get colleagues to understand that in the slew of real-time news and shortened life spans in the digital world, high-quality content marketing endures because it delivers long-term value.
Spending money on what delivers value over time is a good investment. High-quality content helps with organic search results, ultimately increasing inbound leads and brand presence. Want proof? A Kapost and Eloqua survey found that content marketing ROI was more than three times that of paid search.
- Trust and engagement: Sixty-four percent of consumers need to hear a company’s message three to five times before they believe it (Edelman) and 82% of prospects feel more positively about a company after reading custom content (Demand). High-quality content marketing initiatives create entry points for your brand to build trust with prospects and can trigger repeated touchpoints with your brand.
Navigate the stakeholders
Managing a large-scale content marketing initiative from start to finish requires the project manager in the driver’s seat. To make that happen:
- Have your agency or internal team meet with the major stakeholders to get their input, and outline the sign-off process so these stakeholders don’t waste time down the line with last-minute (or worse, post-production) edits and changes.
- Work backward. Brief other department heads such as those in business development, PR, and sales, on how they will be able to use the project to reach their departments’ goals. They will become early allies.
- Ensure the CEO who buys into the initiative understands the value of editorial independence and how it affects your brand’s trust with prospects and customers.
Be prepared to address the challenges posed by an executive team in evaluating your proposed content marketing initiatives, including:
- Ego – Too often a CEO will think the content is “not about us enough.” Share the research that reveals 71% of prospects dismiss content that’s too promotional or salesy. Ask executives how they feel reading another company’s publication where the C-suite is quoted in every article.
Prospects only trust, and therefore engage with, content that is credible. As authentic as your business leaders are, it may be more credible to put forward independent experts – showing your brand puts imparting helpful knowledge before making the sale.
- ROI – Executives frequently talk ROI as if it’s synonymous with lead generation. This reductive interpretation is dangerous because it has zero focus on quality. Brands should evaluate content marketing initiatives by metrics that evaluate how well the content delivers value to the target audiences.
- Resources – Some executives think content is easy and cheap – it can be added to the existing staff’s responsibilities and the only hard cost is printing. Communicate how great content marketing requires a unique skill set. Share how 84% of companies report that hiring for content marketing is a real challenge and more than 62% of companies are outsourcing their content marketing.
Prepare a breakdown of costs at each stage and explain why those resources are necessary.
Follow these 3 steps
Knowing the key factors and how to address the big challenges gives you the foundation to follow this three-step process for buy-in success:
- Get your internal stakeholders in a room early.
The average business decision includes 5.4 internal stakeholders. Use the multiplicity of stakeholders to your advantage from the start – they’ll help the project succeed. Outline everyone’s responsibilities and manage their expectations when it comes to the process (like sticking to the project brief).
- Get the ball rolling.
Even if you don’t have everyone’s support or a million-dollar budget, get started. It’s better to have proof of concept and early success than to have nothing to show but a lot of draft proposals. Turn the phrase “luck comes to those in motion” into a serious business motive – if you build steam, others will get on board the juggernaut.
- Stick to your guns.
Be ready for everything to go wrong when colleagues change their minds, the ego comes out, or opinions run thick and fast as the content project proceeds. It’s important to retain sight of the end goal – delivering value to your audience. Stick to your guns in terms of what everyone agreed on and bought into earlier. As the project manager, it’s up to you to maintain the project’s integrity.
Unless brands are willing to be brave and stand together on the core reason for content marketing initiatives – to engage prospects and customers with high-quality content through which they engage and trust the brand – even the most well-financed project will fall flat.
The big win of high-impact content marketing is that it takes the value exchange away from the transaction of payment and toward the transaction of knowledge – and if you can get your executives to buy into that, the results will be priceless.
Want more assistance in convincing the C-Suite to support content marketing. Check out CMI’s free kit, Mastering the Buy-in Conversation on Content Marketing for more stats, tips, and essential talking points.
Cover image by Jeff Sheldon, Unsplash, via pixabay.com