It’s not her, it’s you…

Your CEO didn’t get to that position by being clueless about increasing revenue and attracting customers (well, in most cases, but that’s another story…). If your CEO doesn’t care about content marketing, it’s highly likely it hasn’t been communicated in a way that makes them care.

Resistance from the top shouldn’t be met with defensiveness, but rather seen as a chance to look at content marketing from your CEO’s perspective. How does content marketing tie into your overall business objectives? 

Do you lay awake at night wondering why you can’t get the buy-in necessary to execute your content marketing plans? If you answered yes to that question, you probably need to realign some of your priorities in life.

But if you want to understand why your CEO (or anyone else who controls budget), isn’t giving you the green light, it’s probably due to one of a variety of potential misconceptions.

Overcoming these objections and misconceptions will do more to advance your content marketing initiatives than trying to force it down their throats with your “well, everyone else is doing it!” mantra.

They Don’t Understand How Content Marketing Converts

A CEO is paid to ensure a business keeps making money. If you can’t explain how great content leads people to buy, you will never get your CEO on board.

Be upfront about the fact that content marketing will not magically turn every person who consumes your content into a customer. But, a well-executed content marketing strategy nearly guarantees an uptick in return visitors.

Every time that someone returns to your online properties is another chance to educate them about your company and draw them closer to your business. But first, you must create content that attracts and retains visitors. Only then can you begin leading those visitors through the sales funnel.

What You Must Communicate:

Consistently creating compelling content gives people a reason to return to our site and gives us multiple opportunities to potentially sell to them. Selling online means taking every opportunity to bring potential customers closer to your brand in an engaged way. Great content can do this better than any banner ad or pushy sales collateral ever will.

They Want Content To Be All About Your Brand

Your CEO probably won’t understand how creating content that’s not about your company can be effective.

A lot of businesses think this way, and not coincidentally, these are not the businesses you read about as content marketing success stories. You need to create content around the interests of your target audience in a way that relates to your business.

Stress the importance of providing value first, pitching second. By creating value for your target audience through a range of free resources, you are pulling them to your online properties. You’re not going to do this by only talking about your brand.  In a lot of cases, you probably aren’t going to do this by talking about your brand at all.

Targeted content leaves breadcrumbs that lead people to you. Over time, highly-targeted content is found by the right audience, usually in one of three ways:

  1. They find your content through search
  2. They see your content shared within their social circles
  3. They click on a link to your content on a website they read

Your CEO will understand that, like any selling, a warm lead is always better than a cold one (do you know anyone who likes telemarketers?). Providing free resources your target audience wants is essentially warming them up to be open to your pitch. Then, when you do choose to weave promotional messages into your content, your audience will be more receptive.

What You Must Communicate:

Focusing on our target audience’s interests (and providing these resources for free) will help position us as a trusted authority within our niche.

They Underestimate Its Power Compared To Direct Marketing Techniques

Simply put, content marketing is economical. With traditional advertising, you are paying every time you broadcast your message. With content marketing, you are investing up front to create something that can provide value to your audience and your business for years to come.

CEOs shouldn’t expect overnight results after a piece of content is published. They are used to this kind of immediate gratification from traditional marketing, and if they don’t see similar results with content marketing, they may dismiss it as ineffective.  Instead, they need to view content marketing as a long-term commitment.

As a piece of content becomes more popular and is seen by more people, not only will it create more touch-points (links to it from social networks, blogs, forums, etc) but it’s also likely to rise in the search rankings (and help drive the links that help your entire site rank better). In this sense, great content can live on indefinitely through organic traffic, links and social sharing.

What You Must Communicate:

Content marketing creates online assets with long-term value. Compelling content spreads and creates multiple touch-points which will help lead people back to our site.

They Don’t Understand The SEO Benefits

Consumers are no longer sitting back as companies try to sell to them. They are actively searching for information about the products and services they want to buy, making informed purchase decisions based on what they find.

By now, your CEO probably understands this. What may be unclear is how content marketing can make your business easier for potential customers to find through search.

As you consistently create valuable content, you’re building more online assets full of keywords relating to your business (assuming you’re not just creating linkbait solely to get attention, like an oil company doing something about Lady Gaga).

The more pages you have, the more content you have for search engines to crawl. Be sure to stress the importance of this being content that provides value (not all about your company!) — the more people are actually reading and sharing this content, the more benefits you’ll see in the SERPs.

Please don’t mistake this as a message to just create lots of content for the sake of the search engines. Hopefully you have seen what the effects of quantity over quality can mean for companies. But if you can consistently create good content and get people to engage with it, you are going to be rewarded.

High quality content attracts more than people, it also attracts search engines. If you’re dedicated to creating valuable content, you don’t have to be obsessed with Google’s latest algorithm tweaks. A long-term content strategy that builds value for your audience sends the right trust and authority signals to the search engines.

What You Must Communicate:

Creating content that our users find useful, and people engage with, sends powerful signals to the search engines, thus helping our search engine optimization efforts significantly.

They Don’t Think It’s Feasible

“Who will produce the content?” “How will these processes be organized across teams?” “Who will be responsible?”

These are valid concerns for a CEO. Assure them investing in content marketing requires effort and ownership across many departments, but the benefits can also be enjoyed by the entire organization.

Content marketing becomes indispensable to a company when it’s used in a way that brings measurable benefits to every department. Some departments which can benefit immensely from an integrated content marketing approach include:

  • Sales (to “close the deal”)
  • Customer Service (to solve common customer problems)
  • Product Development (to educate about products)
  • Human Resources (to attract recruits)

While teams often have competing priorities, content marketing is able to break down these silos and reach objectives that all departments can agree on.

What You Must Communicate:

Involving other teams in content marketing can meet our company-wide objectives and help everyone do their jobs better.

Conclusion

Speaking about content marketing within the context of the above misconceptions is key for getting your CEO on board. But this advice goes beyond your CEO.

Being able to clearly explain how the benefits of content marketing connect with your overall business goals will help you get buy-in just not from the top, but from your entire company.

Have your content marketing efforts gotten push back from the top? Let me know how you’ve overcome some of these obstacles in the comments below.

 

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Content Marketing | Content Marketing | Content Marketing Column

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About The Author: is the Co-Founder and CMO of BlueGlass Interactive, an Internet marketing agency specializing in data-driven content marketing strategies.



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  • cbwheeler

    Basically experiencing all of this first hand. Haven’t overcome anything. Very frustrating as I know it works. I’ve seen it over and over again. Hoping this helps me get some actual work done at some point in the near future.

  • http://twitter.com/chriswinfield Chris Winfield

    I hope so too Cody!

  • Tod Hirsch

    Chris, well said in every way. Your “What You Must Communicate” sections really bring it home. I’ve been trying to communicate these concepts to my clients in different ways for years now…with varying degrees of success. You said it better. Thanks

  • http://twitter.com/AlesiaKrush Alesia Krush

    Lucky are those who will find this article before they make some common mistakes, as your post teaches how to avoid these! Great read, thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/chriswinfield Chris Winfield

    I’d love to hear some of the objections you have come across and any ways that you have overcome them (or not). Please feel free to share them if you feel like it. Thanks Tod!

  • http://twitter.com/chriswinfield Chris Winfield

    I’m glad you enjoyed it Alesia!

  • http://twitter.com/celwell Chris Elwell

    Snip: Content marketing becomes indispensable to a company when it’s used in a way that brings measurable benefits to every department.

    Sounds like another column topic, Chris. Any CEO worth her/his salt would want to drill down on how all of the departments are going to measure.

  • http://twitter.com/JonathanMolnar Jonathan Molnar

    Really nice post! I recently had to overcome this with my boss. I think the added trust it gives our business is what ultimately sold him. There aren’t a ton of competitors in our industry in our market so I presented it as a way to really set us apart from them (aside from all the other benefits you list above).

    I think the toughest thing for CEO’s to get their head around is that it doesn’t directly generate leads or sales, but takes time, and isn’t necessarily easily measurable.

  • http://www.altaresources.com/ Cory Grassell

    Great article! At my company, I can hardly keep up with all the requests, so I think the value of content has been realized. Sadly, I don’t think this is the case in most organizations.

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    “Your CEO probably won’t understand how creating content that’s not about your company can be effective.”

    Can’t tell you how many times I’ve run into that roadblock with clients! It seems like such a simple concept to most marketers, but the C suite’s job is to make a profit. Why should they waste valuable time and energy talking about anything other than the brand? You have to get them to see past their own desk.

  • http://twitter.com/chriswinfield Chris Winfield

    Awesome Chris, can you tell Pamela Parker this idea for my next column then? :)

  • http://twitter.com/chriswinfield Chris Winfield

    “I think the toughest thing for CEO’s to get their head around is that it doesn’t directly generate leads or sales, but takes time, and isn’t necessarily easily measurable.”
    Just one clarification from your statement Jonathan: I think that any content marketing plan/strategy *should* always generate direct sales, it’s just a matter of setting expectations & having a clear plan for that. Thanks for the comment!

  • http://twitter.com/celwell Chris Elwell

    Sorry, they keep me out of the editorial department. You’ll have to handle that.
    ;-)

  • ChrisPantages

    I’d tried to convince our CEO of the value of content marketing at virtually every meeting we’ve had in the last six months.  I finally won him over with an Aaron Wall-like approach, something to the effect of ‘Google is doing everything they can to show only brands at the top of the organic results, and winter is coming for our company unless we start sending more brand signals to Google.  (Content marketing method) is a proven way to do that.’

  • http://twitter.com/chriswinfield Chris Winfield

    I like that Chris — thanks for contributing here and for the great description (i.e. the ‘Aaron Wall-like approach’ :).

  • http://twitter.com/chriswinfield Chris Winfield

    Fair enough ;)

  • http://twitter.com/chriswinfield Chris Winfield

    That’s great to hear Cory!

    “ the value of content has been realized.”

    Care to elaborate? I think it would be really helpful for the discussion..

  • http://twitter.com/pamelaparker Pamela Parker Caird

    Consider your next column topic idea noted :-) 

  • http://www.arthisoft.com/ Arth ISoft

    It’s really nice post. 

  • http://www.altaresources.com/ Cory Grassell

    Sorry for my late response. I just joined a company that is starting up its corporate marketing, so we have added a video developer, web designer, project manager, creative designer, and a writer within the past two months. Together, we’re improving our branding, developing engaging content, and getting our message out there. I have a laundry list of case studies, white papers, and articles to write. I could write 24/7 and never be finished. And that’s not even counting the website rewrite, the campaign collateral, direct mail, social, PR, etc. In fact, I spent last week developing our content calendar for 2013 — something that easily justifies adding additional writers at some point in the future.

 

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