One of the biggest challenges content marketers face is having to get executive buy-in. Executives are usually busy running the company and don’t understand content marketing. They often don’t appreciate the strategies, trends, and tactics that it takes to make a brand relevant.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t get them to buy into your content marketing strategy — however, it does mean that you should not (and must not) assume they appreciate content marketing the way that you do.
Why is executive buy-in important?
The most important thing you can do to get executives to buy into your content marketing strategy is to focus on the bottom line.
A lack of buy-in at the executive level can be catastrophic for your long-term content marketing goals. Before you pitch a content marketing strategy that identifies all the tactics and trends that you know will make your brand relevant, you need to do your homework and be able to answer the following six questions that executives are going to ask before they give you money to implement your strategy.
Question 1: How much will this content marketing strategy cost?
As a content marketer, you’re also thinking about how much your content strategy will cost but from a different perspective. While you may be thinking of this from the perspective of your budget allocation, your c-suite executives are thinking about which parts of the company will get less money if they give you more. Operations? Product management? Research? Christmas bonuses?
It is vital that you define the ROI of your content marketing strategy. 69 percent of marketers are not confident in the ways they measure and track ROI. Remember, the ROI depends on several factors. It is very possible your ROI won’t be fully realized in a quarter or even in a fiscal year.
Make sure when you seek executive buy-in that your executives know what their up-front investment needs to be for you to be able to successfully implement your strategy. You do nobody any favors by not accurately stating precisely what is required. Likewise, make sure you elevate your content strategy tactics to fully focus on what your brand needs.
Of course, the budget desired is negotiable depending on what the desired outcomes are. If your organization is new to content marketing, proposing executive buy-in for a huge budget may not be the best strategy. First, help your executives understand the content marketing vision. When you ask for more funds in upcoming quarters or fiscal years, they will be better versed in what a successful content marketing strategy looks like and what it requires.
As you prepare to meet with your leaders, list the executives you would need buy-in from and note their personalities and decision-making tendencies. Knowing how they like to receive communication will benefit you in this process.
Question 2: How much money will your content marketing strategy bring in?
OK, you know this question is going to come. You need to be prepared to answer it. Because content marketing is different from product marketing, you need to redirect this question and answer the question your executives “should have asked.”
And what question should your executive ask?
“What will be the long-term benefit of this content marketing strategy?”
This is where you pounce and discuss all the value gained from an effective content marketing strategy. Share these insights if you have tested aspects of content marketing and have found that it has paid immediate dividends. However, your best answer will lay out the full ROI — which is much larger and more expansive than only the immediate results.
Question 3: What is the full ROI of content marketing?
Now that you have shared that there is more to the ROI than an immediate cash flow, you need to meticulously define the full ROI of content marketing. You should be prepared to speak about the following:
- Quality lead generation: When content marketing is done well, your ability to find leads greatly increases.
- Sales: Sales has a direct correlation to quality lead generation. The better the leads, the more likely you are to make a sale.
- Increased web traffic: A solid content marketing strategy will likely include inviting people to visit your site or read your blog, and you will see enhanced web traffic.
- Social media engagement: Social media is where you take people who are interested in your brand and its content marketing efforts and you make them brand advocates through the development of useful, engaging content and meaningful interactions.
- SEO benefits: If your content marketing strategy is intended to show value to your audiences, your brand will naturally increase in search results. Learn about how pillar pages and topic clusters will also help your SEO strategies.
- Brand recognition: Brand recall and recognition will increase as your content appears more often on social media, web searches, and influencer and micro-influencer channels.
Question 4: Do we need to hire more employees to implement the content marketing strategy?
You must ensure your content marketing strategy proposal is scalable. Your leadership will want to see evidence of progress before they agree to hire additional staff to facilitate your content marketing efforts. In most instances, don’t propose additional headcount until you have proven success through some basic initial efforts.
Once you have proven the strategy can work — and once you have shown how it can grow over time — and your leaders are supportive, explain that you don’t currently have the staff to make your content marketing efforts as successful as they could be. Clearly define roles and responsibilities and jobs to be done for additional staff.
You can outsource much of the work needed. Using outside vendors is likely to make it easier to receive buy-in from stakeholders because it costs less to hire a vendor than a full-time employee. ClearVoice can assist with many aspects of your content marketing needs.
Question 5: What makes you confident your content marketing strategy will work?
If your executives have never been actively involved in digital marketing campaigns, you will likely have to spend more time answering questions about the efficacy of your content marketing approach. Yes, employing a few tactics on your own before asking for an increased budget is important, but don’t rely solely on your own efforts.
There are a ton of examples that show how content marketing has worked for other brands. Take a look at ClearVoice’s “20 Incredible Content Marketing Examples to Inspire Your Marketing Team.”
Some of the examples you will find in the article include:
- A children’s book from Zillow for kids who fear moving
- Domino’s homemade film festival
- Home Depot do-it-yourself projects and ideas
- Ikea’s Snapchat game that challenges users to declutter a room with Ikea furniture
- Ben & Jerry’s “What’s New” web page
- Fiverr Guides that teach freelancers writing, designing, and marketing skills
Be prepared with specific examples from other brands and organizations who have been successful with their content marketing efforts and you will help alleviate concerns from unsure executives.
Question 6: Can we implement your content marketing strategy for less money?
When your executive leadership balks at the amount of money you are proposing to fund your content marketing strategy, know that they aren’t necessarily saying no to the strategy — they are doubting that the cost of implementing the strategy is worth it. When this conversation comes up, you should be prepared to show exactly what they will get for different amounts of money.
Come into your discussions with executive leadership with three tiers of funds being requested. Tier 1 would indicate your blue-sky thinking. Tier 2 should indicate what you need to be successful. Tier 3 indicates how much money you would need to get by.
But don’t just propose a budget for each tier and leave it at that. You need to focus on the full ROI of content marketing. Add the business outcomes you expect to see for each level of spending. For example, you could talk about the number of quality leads, sales, web traffic, social media engagement, and SEO benefits for each of the three tiers of spending.
Providing options that include estimated results makes it easier for your executives to provide you with the funds you seek because you are showing value in specific and measured ways.
Getting the executive buy-in
Be prepared to answer these six questions, and you will likely receive executive buy-in. Ambiguous answers will lead to frustration for you and your leadership. However, specific answers to the questions above will get your organization on the right path to content marketing success.
Need help creating a winning content strategy? We are available to help you accomplish your content marketing goals. Start building your content plan today!