As marketers, we spend a dizzying amount of time thinking about how our content will appeal to consumers. There are many discussions dedicated to appropriate buyer personas, tone and style and the right delivery methods, so much so that we often forget our content must also appeal to internal parties.
Writers, designers and analysts are creating and managing content for a media landscape that never sleeps, which can cause tunnel vision. Sure, you’re excited and confident about your content, but stakeholders also need to share your enthusiasm. That’s why we’re going to show you how to sell your content plan to key stakeholders. We’ll focus on three specific groups: C-suite executives, investors and fellow employees.
To create these tailored approaches, you need to consider a few things ahead of your pitches:
1. Proper Preparation: Much like creating your content plan, selling it is predicated on research. No matter the audience, you have to know the people you’re pitching intimately. Learn as much as you can about your audience beforehand. In particular, consider your audience’s experiences, goals and challenges. This preparation will be instrumental in building a successful presentation.
2. Find a Need: After considering the challenges of your audience, you should start to identify pain points. Find a way to express how your content plan solves problems for the people around you. If you’re unconvinced that there are still gaps to be filled, contemplate that an IBM study of CMOs across the globe found that 67 percent “intend to reassess their strategic direction, given the technological advances now disrupting the marketplace.”
3. Show Potential: But you’ll need more than some slick wordsmithing. Bolster your case with research, case studies and models for potential growth. Be prepared to ease risk-averse stakeholders with empirical evidence.
With that in mind, get ready to sell your content marketing plan!
C-suite, or C-level, is business shorthand for senior executives. Traditionally, it has included positions such as chief executive officer (CEO), the chief financial officer (CFO) and chief operating officer (COO). The C-suite has now been broadened to include positions such as chief marketing officer (CMO), chief technology officer (CTO) and chief security officer (CSO).
These specialized C-suite roles are actually to your advantage. They allow you to really tailor your materials and pitch. You’re likely starting off on the right foot simply by communicating with the person or people making high-level decisions about your content and marketing. More often than not, this will be the CMO. However, that’s not to say that other C-suite executives are never involved.
As we discussed earlier, take time to consider your audience. C-suite executives are incredibly busy. They have a lot on their plate, and they’re under considerable pressure. That’s why you should opt for a concise pitch that quickly gets to the heart of your content plan.
Think of it as an extended elevator pitch. Start with a statement that illustrates what your content plan intends to do. Next, demonstrate the value of what you’re trying to implement. Finally, be unambiguous about what you’re asking for in terms of resources or funding.
Understandably, it can be difficult to get C-suite executives to buy into a new initiative. The average tenure for CMOs at large brands fell for the second year in a row according to research from executive search firm Spencer Stuart. The study showed that the average tenure for CMOs from “100 of the top U.S. ad spenders” fell to 42 months in 2016. CMO turnover is noticeably higher compared to other C-suite executives—CEOs averaged slightly more than seven years, or 84 months comparatively. So, while your content marketing plan seems like an obvious step in the right direction to you, it can be a huge leap of uncertainty for others.
Assuage any concerns by highlighting how specifically your content marketing plan can help hit key performance indicators (KPIs). Depending on your business goals and the CMO you’re pitching to, you might focus on KPIs such as social shares, website visits per month, blog visits per month, the percentage of returning readers, time on site, leads generated per piece of content or landing-page conversion rates.
After identifying the benefits of your plan in relation to your business goals, reinforce your claims with research and case studies.
Whether it’s venture capitalists looking for the next big thing, private investors contributing to a small business or shareholders of a Fortune 500 company, many businesses must deal with investors.
When money enters the conversation, presenting your case can be daunting. But, for the most part, you’re following a similar process to pitching C-suite executives. Think about your audience, be direct and backup your assertions.
Obviously, as investors, they will primarily be concerned with return on investment (ROI). They want to know how your content marketing plan is going to save money, bring more money in or increase your customer base (which presumably will help the bottom line). Like C-suite executives, they might also be wary of new initiatives—especially those that require additional investment upfront or those that require time to build. Once again, reinforce your pitch with research.
Hard data is your No. 1 resource in fighting risk aversion in investors. Focus on data points that demonstrate ROI. For instance, you might present research, like this study from Kapost and Eloqua, that shows various benefits such as:
- Cost per lead drops 80 percent in the first five months with a dedicated content plan.
- A content marketing plan costs 31 percent less for a mid-sized firm and 41 percent less for a large firm compared to paid search.
- After 36 months, content marketing generates 3.3 times as many leads per $1,000 spent than paid search.
Also, emphasize that a properly executed content plan will create a dedicated audience that continues to generate leads. Instead of buying or renting media, like a TV commercial, you’re becoming the media with owned content.
Now that the difficult tasks are over, it’s time to turn your attention to your fellow employees.
Businesses are made up of different departments all working toward common goals. Your coworkers might not be involved in the content creation or marketing efforts, but your content plan can still affect them.
When bringing your content plan to coworkers, it should be a much less formal affair than pitching executives or investors. It’s more about fostering continued investment and pride in your business. You can present that data you’ve already gathered for your other pitches to make your case, but don’t stop there. Express how different departments can get real value out of your content.
By producing quality pieces of content, you’re working to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. But thought leadership also serves as a valuable human resource recruiting tool to attract new talent. If you’re a leader, people will gravitate toward you.
Additionally, involving people from other departments in your content can lead to fresh ideas that showcase company culture and work as an employee retention tool. Recently, Johnsonville invited employees to tell brand stories that were then turned into funny, light-hearted commercials. The spots were a hit on the internet—and for good reason. When people are involved and see themselves representing their business, they’re excited and engaged. That produces real tangible benefits. According to a Gallup poll, employees who are engaged are 27 percent more likely to report “excellent” performance.
A content plan that includes contributors is a great way to nurture industry relationships, too. It’s less pushy than sales calls and could lead to future partnerships. Public relations can also get a nice boost from the right piece of content. If a blog post drives an unusual amount of traffic or sharing, it could potentially be picked up by various outlets and drive more exposure for your business.
But overall, the best benefit is an open line of communication. According to research by the McKinsey Global Institute, productivity improves by 20-25 percent in organizations with connected employees. It’s easier to engage and feel like you’re contributing when you know what’s happening and how other departments are working toward business goals.
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