Before you even begin to speak, you can sense the skepticism. This is going to be a tough sell.
Convincing your old-school boss to support content marketing initiatives is like old-world explorers trying to persuade European royalty to fund a transatlantic voyage into the unknown. You’re entering uncharted waters with a preconceived notion from your superiors that you may fall flat.
Your boss may be clinging to outbound marketing tactics, still hoping to replenish your company’s sales funnel using radio spots and banner ads. He/she may be unaware that skipping TV commercials and unsubscribing from emails represent two of today’s most empowering consumer behaviors.
Even if your boss can recognize “SEO” from a list of business acronyms, and acknowledges that consumers are flocking to the Internet, skepticism may remain. Like monarchs perceiving a round world, the concept of customers proactively coming to you simply based on your content may seem far-fetched at first.
The hindrance of time constraints may guide your boss’s decision making, pushing your company toward maintaining its marketing status quo. Chances are your boss’s time is limited, and the thought of rewriting your customer playbook to accommodate content marketing sounds daunting.
Yet if you truly believe content marketing is both the present and the future, now’s the time to reset your company’s marketing trajectory. Before you can initiate two-way, interactive communication with your customers, though, you must first do so with your boss.
Here’s our guide to convincing your boss to invest in content marketing. Read on then step into your boss’s office with confidence.
Dream Big but Start Small
If you’re like many content marketers, you probably aspire to overhaul your company’s current process, perhaps scrapping outbound marketing altogether. Ambitious though it may be, this approach will not win over your skeptical boss.
Don’t start with your dream to build a content marketing behemoth; put that in storage for now. Approach your boss with a realistic proposal for gradually shifting 20 percent of your marketing budget from outbound to inbound. Start by replacing cold calling or print ads with the introduction of a company blog.
Your company’s entry into content marketing can begin without a large human capital investment. Start with a “content by committee” approach among your current staff. Despite the growth of content marketing, 54 percent of brands don’t yet have an on-site, dedicated content director.
Devise a Strategy
When you enter your boss’s office to give your pitch, have a content marketing strategy in mind. An idea without a plan for execution won’t leave your boss impressed.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, B2B marketers with a content strategy are nearly 300 percent more likely to be effective, yet only 44 percent of such marketers have a documented strategy. Don’t fall victim to this perceived disconnect between strategy and action.
Chart a course for your content marketing voyage by designating staff members to contribute content, creating an editorial schedule and determining what types of content will drive customers through your sales funnel. Use social media and other content-sharing platforms to support your company’s content. Having your plan in place up front will help your boss to conceptualize your vision.
Suggest a Trial Run
Some animal rescues offer “foster-to-adopt” programs, whereby you give a dog or cat a trial run in your home before committing to adopt in order to determine if the animal is a strong fit for your household. While your boss may not be a pet person, this method is still applicable to your proposal.
Ask your boss to “adopt” content marketing for a trial run. Temporarily devote outbound marketing resources and budget toward crafting content that draws customers to your company online. Offer your boss a “money-back guarantee” in the form of quantitative objectives for measuring the success of this trial campaign.
Ideally, have the trial run last at least six months, as the positive impact from your company’s content creation won’t be immediate. But provided your boss can practice patience, he/she may be awarded with a “bundle of joy” in the form of a newfound sales pipeline.
Demonstrate ROI Potential
Bosses are bottom-line driven. Even with a flawless strategy and the “money-back guarantee” of a trial run, your content marketing proposal will need to demonstrate real value. Be prepared to project ROI figures.
Arrive at your meeting emboldened by ROI-related stats like these:
- Inbound marketing delivers 54 percent more leads into the marketing funnel than traditional outbound marketing.
- Brands relying on inbound marketing save more than $14 for every new customer acquired.
The combination of increased sales opportunities and decreased costs should entice even the most discerning boss to give content marketing a try.
Be Prepared for Rebuttals
Sometimes it seems like a boss’s core job function is playing an eternal role as devil’s advocate. You’ve developed a strategy, offered a trial run and shown ROI possibilities…yet your boss still has doubts.
Here’s where your ability to predict your boss’s objections will come in handy. Have an answer ready for each curve ball your boss tosses back at you.
Too expensive? The initial cost will come from the existing outbound marketing budget. Not enough employee resources? You’ve constructed an editorial calendar that utilizes only a small portion of each employee’s time. Operate in an industry too boring for producing original content? With a proper content marketing plan, you can educate and entertain prospective customers within nearly any B2B or B2C industry.
If All Else Fails, Plant a Seed
No matter what you do, there’s always a chance the answer is simply “no.” It’s just not in the cards. Even R.H. Macy failed seven times before his store in New York City caught on.
When this outcome occurs, don’t be discouraged. Rather, view it as an opportunity. Plant a seed within your boss’s idea sphere and revisit the concept at a later date. Have your proposal readily available for when the topic of content marketing inevitably reemerges.
Situations change, and so too might your boss’s point-of-view. Your company’s marketing budget may increase next year, or shifting customer trends may prompt your boss to reconsider. Seeing that 78 percent of CMOs think content is the future of marketing, your boss may simply change his/her mind after reassessing the marketplace.
But for now, get in your boss’s office and pitch away. With any luck, a content marketing journey awaits your company. Just be grateful it doesn’t involve traversing the Atlantic Ocean on the Santa María.