I recently grabbed dinner with a friend who happens to be a fellow marketer. Upon arrival, I could tell this person needed a beer. This friend is struggling to establish modern marketing practices at work. The technology exists, but implementation is seriously lagging. And it’s frustrating to know the incredible possibilities, then watch the days go by without any shift toward improvement.
For example, the company has wide-ranging CRM capabilities, but the salespeople don’t use it to its full potential. A good deal of money has been spent on marketing automation technology and the staff to wield it, yet months after purchase, basic implementation is lacking. They’re considering adding content marketing software to the mix as well, but are struggling to make the case.
In all of these areas, the marketers who want to utilize these technologies feel handcuffed. Everyone at the “doer” level knows the best practices, and craves being able to get the most out of tools. They want to make an already fantastic company that much more successful. Yet, time and time again, while trying to get caught up to speed, they find themselves running in place.
The issue is executive support. It’s been slow to come, if at all. And the truth is, my friend’s experience is hardly unique.
A major problem in implementing modern marketing software is achieving executive buy-in. The Content Marketing Academy LinkedIn group has fielded multiple, passionate discussions from marketers tasked with achieving lofty goals, without having the tools and/or executive support to realistically meet them.
So how can “doers” reach the higher-ups?
When building a case to execs, pull out the key points, and be as concise and direct as possible.
Let’s start with what not to do. There are many resources out there meant to “make the case,” but it’s important to note that executives are pressed for time. Don’t send them lengthy eBooks or dozens of articles and expect them to read them cover to cover. It probably won’t strike the intended chord.
Instead, use your knowledge to make their lives (and their decision) easier. At the “doer” level, we’re constantly researching and learning best practices and studying cool, successful campaigns. We’re also aware of shifts in marketing techniques more quickly and in a more in-depth way. So when building a case to execs, pull out the key points, and be as concise and direct as possible.
When I send important emails, I attempt to clearly express the value of what’s contained. The goal is to grab the recipient’s attention enough to read on, regardless of how long the email is or how dense the subject matter. I try to use subject lines that drive people to open.
For all you email marketers out there, this might sound familiar. The strategies for proving value internally aren’t so different from persuading your target buyers to open, consume, and take action. Use this methodology when pitching to executives. Respect the fact that they tend to have more meetings than they’d like. This leaves less “do stuff” time than they’d like, and they carefully guard that “do stuff” time.
In other words, to get executive buy-in, get to the point.
In my friend’s case, help was needed pitching content marketing as a strategy for using those different technology assets. By creating enough content to enable sales and build campaigns, as well as to fuel marketing automation software, no longer will there be issues of “what to track” or “what to send.” I compiled an email with the most valuable resources I knew of to help with the pitch, but also a “key takeaway” for each resource, which got to the point of the piece, even if an executive didn’t read the full asset.
To get executive buy-in, get to the point.
Below I’ve included some those resources and a number of others, with key takeaways to help marketers get to the point and speak to executives in a way that the value is clear and concise. If you have other resources that I missed, please add them to the comments below. High-fives if you include a key takeaway as I have here.
Key Takeaway: “Content is just for B2C? B.S. The majority of these excellent, fully bought-in content marketers are big B2B companies”
The Blueprint to Modern Marketing by Kapost
Key Takeaway: “By creating one content pillar instead of many disconnected, one-off pieces, it’s easy to break that finished asset into blog posts, infographics, videos, emails, social media updates, and other formats to attract different kinds of customer segments and communities across channels”
What Comes First: Content Marketing Or Thought Leadership? by Laura Ramos, Forrester
Key Takeaway: “Can [a company] manufacture thought leadership, or is it only earned through the consistent, dedicated pursuit of good editorial publishing that is educational, interesting, and (even) entertaining?”
The Content Marketing Echo Chamber by Michael Brenner, B2B Marketing Insider
Key Takeaway: “The thing that keeps getting in the way: a lack of focus on the customer. There are plenty of
excuses for overly-promotional and boring content…but every company is sending more of this same content blahhhhh and customers are tuning out.”
When Content Marketing Works by Ryan Hanley, Content Warfare
“Despite it’s undeniable ability to grow revenue and strengthen relationships, there are still many businesses on the fence about content marketing. This is because they don’t understand the world has changed.”
Why Your Thought Leadership Strategy Should Make You Uncomfortable by Carla Johnson, Content Marketing Institute
Key Takeaway: “As you create your thought leadership strategy, it’s not enough to plan topics and then distribute. You have to understand how ideas evolve to meet the needs of a more demanding—and less risk-adverse—customer base.”
Crap: The Single Biggest Threat to B2B Content Marketing by Doug Kessler, Velocity Partners
Key Takeaway: “A Great Content Brand is a brand that’s famous for producing intelligent, useful and entertaining content that’s always worth consuming.”
11 Examples of Killer B2B Content Marketing Campaigns Including ROI by Lee Odden, TopRank Online Marketing Blog
Key Takeaway: These B2B Brands bought in and saw the results.
Six Case Studies that Prove the Power of Content Marketing by David Moth, eConsultancy
Key Takeaway: Companies that use content marketing don’t just experience minor results.
59 Killer Content Marketing Stats: 2014 Edition by Jasmine Henry, Writtent
Key Takeaway: If the sentences/articles above don’t work, use stats like:
“93% of B2B marketers use content marketing, why aren’t we?”
“Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads.”
Now if you need help convincing executives to support content marketing efforts more fully, try the resources below. I’ve even included my key takeaways for you:
Building the Case for Content Marketing by Content Marketing Institute
Key Takeaway: More a suite of resources than anything, this collection provides strategy with research and real-life examples and case studies to back them up.
How to Convince your Boss to Go All in with Content Marketing by Mike Huber, Vertical Measures
Key Takeaway: Gives 5 key bullet points to focus on, including lead generation and reducing cost per lead, with a strong supporting image.
The 7 Steps to Getting Senior Management to Buy-In by Patsy Wiggins, The HR Group
Key Takeaway: Written by an executive, with actionable advice on the psychology of executives.