Should you be paid more for what you do?
Over half of content marketers (54%) believe their compensation should be higher, according to CMI’s Content Marketing Career and Salary Outlook 2024 (registration required).
And now’s a good time to ask – the latest CMI B2B research found content marketing’s importance in the business has grown.
Of course, it’s also a tricky time to ask, as businesses face higher prices and external economic pressures. As Tom McMullen, senior client partner at Korn Ferry, has said: “This is the most turbulent compensation environment I’ve seen in my 30-year career.”
So how can you move from thinking you deserve a raise to seeing a bigger number on your paycheck? Do your research, prep your case, and present it effectively.To get the raise you deserve, research #ContentMarketing salaries, pack your case with results, and practice your pitch, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet
Do external research
To prepare to make your case for a salary increase, find out what others in your industry and similar positions earn. CMI’s salary research found the median salary for U.S.-based content marketers who work for an employer is $82,738.
That number is just a starting point. Dig deeper to understand how experience and role affect compensation, too.
CMI’s salary research found salaries vary based on experience, ranging from $51,190 for those with up to seven years of experience to $96,034 for those with more than 15 years of experience.
CMI divided content marketing roles into three categories – hands-on, manager, and high-level. The median salary for hands-on content marketers is $58,790, while at the executive level, the median wage amounts to $111,851.
For more information on salaries specific to your role, explore job listings on platforms like LinkedIn and Indeed.
Another option is to use the salary tool from the recruiting agency Creative Circle. When you select a job title and location, the tool reveals both the average pay and the desired salary based on what candidates say they want. All the data comes from Creative Circle’s clients and job applicants.Research role-specific salaries on @LinkedIn, @Indeed, or with a salary tool like the one from @Creative_Circle, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet
Get ready internally
With the external benchmark comparisons in hand, you’re ready to look inward. Evaluate two key things: the general business environment and content marketing’s impact on the business.
If your employer is doing well, asking for a raise makes sense. Salary increases may be possible even if your company has been going through layoffs or shrinking staff sizes. But you’ll need to think critically.
If the company isn’t bringing in enough revenue to pay the bills, forget about asking for a raise. If the company is cutting back for a leaner operation and your role has become more critical, it could be a good time to ask for a salary increase.
Now it’s time to do a self-check.
Dominic Lill is an SEO manager at Trafiki Ecommerce who successfully negotiated salary increases in his previous role as a content editor/marketer. He suggests asking yourself these questions:
- Have my responsibilities grown?
- Have I become more productive?
- What areas of my work could I improve? (Anticipating negatives helps you prepare responses to them.)
With that external, internal, and personal research, you’re almost ready to make the ask. But here’s an idea you should consider long before you want the raise.
Build a bench of supporters
Steve Rose, vice president at Intent, offers a tip to help you prepare your case: “Aggressively cultivate your support base. Having someone else advocate for you can go a long way toward demonstrating your value.”
But don’t wait to develop your advocates until you’re ready to ask for the salary bump. “Build these ties proactively over time,” Steve says. “If they’re comfortable, ask one or two of them to send a statement to your boss about your progress and improvement.”
Another helpful approach is to keep your own bullet list-style document where you paste positive feedback, metrics, and results from your work. Then, when you’re ready to argue for a salary increase (or update your resume), pull the most important and relevant bullets into your formal request.
Prepare for the conversation
Even a well-researched request can feel nerve-wracking. “Most people tremble at approaching their boss about a wage boost,” says Vaibhav Kakkar, CEO of Digital Web Solutions.
Think about how you’ll introduce the topic, then rehearse the conversation.
Vaibhav offers this prompt to get you started: “As you’re aware, I just finished my (X) year with (organization). I am eager to continue working toward the company’s goals in my current position and expand my duties. On that basis, let’s talk about my pay.”
Make a specific request within the realistic possibilities. Otherwise, the employer might offer a raise amount lower than you wanted.
Base your requested amount on your earlier research. Think about the actual percentage increase. If you retain the same responsibilities, a 3% raise is typical. “Anything over 5% is remarkable,” Vaibhav says.
If your duties have expanded or the circumstances have changed (i.e., a job with minimal travel becomes a job with 50% travel), a higher rate of 10 to 20% might be possible, he says.
If you retain the same role and responsibilities but your research points to a wide gap between the average standard industry rate and your compensation, plan for a more extensive conversation. The industry gap likely exists for other roles, too. A significant change in your salary likely would lead your employer to need to address other underpaid positions, too.
Your supervisor is unlikely to approve your request during your initial conversation. They may need to revisit their budget, reflect on what you’ve shared, or have a conversation with their boss.
Set follow-up expectations at the end of the conversation, says Adam Crossling, head of marketing at Zenzero. He suggests some language to use: “Is it OK if I check back with you two weeks from now if I haven’t heard anything?”
Aim for yes, but plan for no
Work for a “yes,” but plan for a “no” or “not now.” That way, if you’re told the company doesn’t have the money, you’ll be ready to propose an alternative solution.
Josh Pelletier, chief marketing officer of BarBend, says: “To move up the ranks, you may ask for something other than a pay raise, such as more training or a chance to participate in special projects.”
As Josh explains, “Mortgages are paid with salary, but careers are built on terms. And those are words to live by if your boss is unable to increase your salary.”To move up the ranks, ask for something other than a pay raise, says @barbendnews CMO Josh Pelletier via @AnnGynn @CMIContent. Click To Tweet
Salary success story
Content marketer Allison Gagliardi asked for 10% raises at two previous employers. Both times, she got a salary bump.
Allison says she made her case to two employers, both internet marketing agencies, in the annual review process.
With her first employer, she had been a content editor for three years and had received the annual 3% raises most everybody received. Then she made her case and received a 10% increase. She took a similar tactic a few years later as a senior content manager at another agency. In her first-year performance review there, she asked for and received a 10% raise.
How did she make the successful presentations? She wrote a letter outlining her compensation request and listed her accomplishments to date in a bullet format. She signed the letter – with an actual pen – and put it in a two-pocket folder. In the other pocket, she included emails/letters from clients and co-workers singing her praises. “It’s proof they just can’t argue with,” Allison says.
Based on her success, Allison offers a few tips for making your presentation:
- Ask for a percent increase vs. a dollar figure. Sometimes a percentage request is “easier on the eyes.”
- Use numbers to impress. Include percentages, hours worked, money saved, people hired, etc.
- Be ready with a consolation prize. Be prepared with a counteroffer such as, “I’m hearing you can’t meet my request this year. I think adding five paid-time-off days to my account is comparable.”
Be creative about your consolation prize suggestions. Allison offers some suggestions: a bonus on achieving a specific benchmark, permission to bring a pet into the office on certain days, a standing desk, an air card (for Wi-Fi wherever you go), an improved title, a continuing education plan, or even control of the AC unit in your department (yes, for real).
If you don’t get the salary you want? Consider moving on. A recent Pew Research Center study found that people who switched jobs were more likely to get real wage increases (after accounting for inflation) than people who stayed with the same employer. And remember, it’s sometimes easier to negotiate a higher offer than a raise.
Are you ready to make your case for a higher salary? Share your success stories and tips in the comments.
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute