Follow these three core principles to ensure your content campaigns get buy-in from key stakeholders.
Getting internal buy-in is a challenge. Internal matters of ego and politics, questions about ROI, and scrambles for resources and budget create serious obstacles.
The three core principles to pitch internally are content endurance, search over time, and trust and engagement.
The first, content endurance, is about getting colleagues to understand that in the slew of real-time news and shortened life-spans of everything in the digital world, it is high-quality analysis that endures because it delivers long-term value. A Kapost and Eloqua survey found that content marketing ROI was over three times the value of paid search – proof that spending money on what will endure and continue to deliver value over time is a better investment.
The second, search over time, builds on from the first. High quality content helps with organic search, ultimately increasing inbound leads and brand presence.
The third, trust and engagement, is where the quality factor plays the biggest part. Sixty-four per cent of consumers need to hear a message from a company three to five times before they believe the message (Edelman) and 82 per cent of prospects feel more positively about a company after reading custom content (CMI).
So, with the world of marketing moving rapidly toward being relationship-based, these statistics support the pitch for high-quality content marketing initiatives that create entry points for prospects to build trust and have repeated touch-points with your brand.
The stakeholder map
Managing the process of a large-scale content marketing initiative start to finish requires the project manager to be in the driver’s seat. Get the agency you’re using to meet with the major stakeholders so they feel involved, but outline the sign-off process from the start so that time isn’t wasted down the line with edits and amends.
Work backward by briefing other department heads such as Business Development, PR and Sales on how they will be able to use the project to reach their department’s goals and figures, so that they support the project and become early allies.
Ensure you’ve got buy-in from the CEO but that she or he understands the value of editorial independence and its impact on trust so you have a quality champion right at the top.
The gates of doom
Traditional marketing flaunted the attributes of a company’s product or services. The way to position yourselves as the best in the market was to tell everyone that you were. But with 71 per cent of prospects switching off when content is salesy, traditional marketing is falling flat on its face. Most marketers know that – but convincing a Head of Practice she shouldn’t be interviewed for the feature article on innovations or dealing with a CEO who thinks that the publication is “not about us enough” is a battle of big egos.
Editorial independence is the number one priority for any high-quality content initiative. It goes back to trust. Prospects will only trust, and therefore engage with, content that is credible. And as credible as your business leaders are, it’s more credible to put forward independent experts, because it shows that your brand is putting knowledge ahead of its sales agenda.
The best way to get past the Gates of Doom? Flip the argument on its head and ask the nay-sayers how they’d feel reading a publication from a company with that company’s C-suite quoted throughout every article. They’d dismiss it as marketing fluff, right? So would everyone else.
‘ROI’ today is too often synonymous with ‘lead generation’. Particularly amongst other departments, the assumption is that good marketing is marketing that just gets leads. But this reductive interpretation of ROI is dangerous because it has zero focus on quality.
A quality brand adds value to its target market and has a relationship beyond the transactional. So,‘ROI’ must be re-framed as a calculator of value, not a tally of leads. While it’s tempting to quantify with the advent of analytics and tracking, there are examples of marketing success that can’t be tracked but do drive results.
Lead-gen activity, while yielding ‘clicks’ or ‘visits’, aims too low in the marketing funnel to be sustainable. It targets people who are too junior to influence real decision-making, and it’s often interruptive rather than sought-out. Lead generation activities, on their own, don’t give you the chance to get people engaged with what you believe in, and don’t let you talk to the big hitters. And research shows that the number one reason a deal is done is because the buyer feels something– they’re engaged.
People buy with emotion, even if they don’t realise it. So the way to really drive ROI is to be in that playing field. The metric is simple: are we delivering value to our target market? Stick to that.
Sixty-two per cent of companies were outsourcing their content marketing in 2016 and the numbers are increasing. What’s more, 84 per cent of companies report that hiring for content marketing is a real challenge, according to Marketing Charts.
Putting two and two together isn’t difficult: great content marketing takes a unique skill set, one that even a journalist alone doesn’t have. It’s so tough that hiring for it is a real battle, and companies are looking to publishers or agencies to help.
The question of resources skirts the ego conversation. Many execs will insist that the company already has the resources: marketing can project manage and design, PR can write the copy, practice heads can do the interviews, and we’ll just pay for printing. But any project taking this approach is heading straight for the Gates of Doom because research shows that this approach is not the answer.
Preparing both a breakdown of what costs are needed and why, at each stage, it’s necessary to get the right resources and is essential for getting buy-in. The simple reason? The quality of the project will be compromised if in-house teams and expertise are used. Either because too many cooks in the kitchen lead to salesy editorial, or because the level of commissioning and production is standard at best and therefore fails to move the commercial needle.
Download the PDF to discover the first steps to take in order to get key stakeholders to buy-in to your content campaigns