How to get C-Suite Buy In for Content Marketing

 All too often, companies put a low priority into Content Marketing. There are many reasons for this. Sometimes, business owners and executives prefer to do things the old fashioned way. Their thinking is stuck in the past, and they prefer to keep on doing things the way they’ve always done them. Anything new that comes along, like Content Marketing, social media, and all that other “internet stuff”, gets relegated to second place in the business plan.

It’s surprising that, even now, when so many major brands have realised the power digital marketing has to affect the bottom line, many medium to large businesses practically ignore Content Marketing. They may have social media, sure. But they delegate the jobs of blogging, tweeting, or snap-chatting to interns and other lower employees.

Perhaps you are in the difficult position of being a content marketer in a large company and feel like you’re at the very bottom of the totem pole.

It isn’t fair, you reason. You’re a darn good marketer! You have notebooks (paper or digital) full of ideas that can build the brand of your company. You want to overhaul your company’s blog, or organize a major email or social media campaign that is sure to turn heads. You know your ideas are in the business’s best interest, and yet you can’t get permission to execute a single idea you’ve brought up!

Such a situation can be very frustrating. So what can you do? Sadly, some excellent content marketers may end up leaving their jobs, looking for a place where their skills and expertise will be put to better use.

But don’t admit defeat so quickly. Before you throw in the towel, there may still be a way to win the hearts of your superiors, getting the permission you need to do your job even better.

And, as a Content Marketer, how do you win hearts? By planning and launching a marketing campaign, of course, aimed at a specific audience. In this case, your audience will be your boss.

That’s right. You may need to market to your own employers to get the permission you need to do what you know will help the company overall. Here are three steps to take to win your bosses’ hearts and get to start using some of the ideas you have hidden away in that notebook of yours.

Know Your Audience

When planning a marketing campaign, you first need to know your intended audience. You make customer personas, planning out your ideal reader/listener/follower, and then you cater your marketing efforts to influence a specific demographic.

In this case, you already know exactly who you are hoping to influence. It may be a key executive, your immediate boss or manager, or a board of executives—whoever has the power to give you permission to launch the Content Marketing projects you know your company needs.

So take some time and study your audience.

How can you use this information? Let’s say you need to convince the CEO of your company to allow you to launch an extensive blog and twitter campaign. You know all the best arguments, and you’re sure your plan will work. After all, you’re the marketer! But the CEO has a bit of a social media phobia. She doesn’t want anything to be done with Twitter except for the bare minimum, which has to be delegated to an intern in your department.

In this case, the CEO can’t just be reasoned with, since reasoning plays to the mind. Her fear is emotion-based. So you need to play to the heart, to her emotions.

What information can you use to reach the CEO’s heart, pulling at those emotions?

Let’s say your CEO has certain business leaders that she considers personal role models. Maybe she closely follows Josh Bayliss or idolises the late Steve Jobs. Find out what the CEO’s heroes have done with social media, appeal to her emotions, and you may get the permission you want through your researched use of examples.

Focus on Small Wins

What would a marketing campaign be without a sales funnel? We don’t open to new customers with the hard sell. We pull them in, little by little, letting them get to know the brand we represent. We make smaller sales, and then, when the time is right, we offer the up-sell and (hopefully) close a deal that will benefit the customer as much as the company.

A lot of marketing is about being subtle, gradual, focusing on the small offers, and funnelling small wins into giant victories.

The same is the case when you’re marketing to your boss. Don’t pull out your biggest idea from the get-go. That’s almost sure to be shot down in the first meeting. If you know that you need to do some softening-up before you roll out the years-long project, start with something small.

It’s much easier to get permission for a minor campaign. So chose a smaller idea and play it down as something simple that will take very little investment and get a nice, quick return. When that campaign meets its ROI target, you’ll have something to take back to the executives, evidence to back up your next ask.

There is a lot of power in small wins, and they can accumulate into a powerful resume not just for you as a marketer, but also for your future ideas. Executives are more likely to sign off on a big marketing idea if you have hard numbers from previous, smaller ideas.

Know when to Give Up

Of course, as with any marketing campaign, there is the risk of failure. When a project does not meet ROI expectations, you need to know when it’s best to give up and go back to the drawing board.

As Seth Godin points out in his book The Dip, the secret to getting great is know when to quit. The same is true when it comes to marketing to your boss. If you feel you are losing this battle, it may be better to let it go for now.

To borrow from the example above, if that CEO’s phobia of all things social media won’t relent, you may be better off tabling any idea that involves social networks and focusing on what she is more likely to approve, such as blog and email campaigns. When the time is right, you can bring up social media at another time.

Learning to get along in a difficult work environment is a skill that will serve you the rest of your life, both in and outside the office. So even if you feel under-appreciated as a content marketer in your company, don’t be quick to move on.

And, if you do manage to open up a whole new marketing territory for your company, and if your company truly benefits from your efforts, you’ll have an item on your professional portfolio few marketers stick around long enough to earn.