Getting internal buy-in for any professional project can present its challenges. Getting internal buy-in for content marketing efforts is not so different than other company-wide initiatives that require internal buy-in, except for maybe convincing C-suites and stakeholders that it is a company-wide initiative! As marketers, I think we’ve all been there whether we’re in-house or an agency: C-suites and stakeholders can resist and push back on content marketing initiatives. We know that it is a great solution to organically grow the business, raise brand awareness, nurture customers, and continue to add value to our audiences. So why does it continue to be an up-hill battle to convince the CEOs and employees that this is a really, really, REALLY good thing?! In this post, I’ll unpack some of the common objections against content marketing by c-suites and then offer some really simple, yet effective tactics to use to get the internal buy-in for content marketing.
Statements like the following are fairly common and shouldn’t surprise any marketer. We should all be prepared to address these objections and offer creative solutions in response.
— Our business thrives on word-of-mouth referrals; we don’t need a blog or any of that.
— Our audience isn’t on social media.
— What’s content marketing and how would I use that for my business?
— We don’t have a big enough marketing budget or the right internal resources to sustain content marketing efforts.
— It’s a nice idea, but a discretionary expense we’d sooner put towards other marketing expenditures that have quicker results like Facebook ads and PPC campaigns.
Generally speaking, objections tend to either fall in one or a combination of these three categories:
- Rejection of new methods and technologies
- Lack of education or understanding
- Cost or expense in dollars and resources
All of these challenges are valid and are easy enough to address. Knowing how to address these objections and with whom is the key to secure internal buy-in for your content marketing efforts.
Here’s what you need to know and organize before you even start the conversation with your C-Suite:
- Why are you recommending content marketing strategies for the business? What is your vision? Be sure you can align your reasons with overall company goals. Connect the dots with how this strategy works to achieve the goals and results the business has prioritized.
- What is the projected impact? Prepare your research and personalize it to your industry and your company as best you can. What KPIs will you measure in order to show progress towards overall company goals based on incremental content marketing goals over what period of time? Need some data? This here is a gold mine from Hubspot. Content Marketing Institute should also be your go-to resource for research and industry data.
- What kind of resources is it going to take in order to be successful? Break it down into hard and soft figures in time and money.
- Who needs to be involved and at what level? This will vary by company, so think carefully whose talent and effort you need for the strategy to be successful.
- How is the process going to work? If your business isn’t already doing content marketing, you’ll need to design a process to follow in order to stay on schedule, facilitate collaboration, and get the necessary approvals.
- What or Who presents your greatest barriers to success? Know who your nay-sayers are and/or what challenges you know you may face, such as needing to buy new technology or some cultural factors. Be prepared with how you plan to nip resistance in the bud.
- Who will be your advocates and supporters of the content marketing strategy? Know who they are and keep them close.
- Who benefits from content marketing, internal and external, and why? Be prepared to talk specifics.
- What are the risks? What does the company have to lose if the strategy doesn’t go as planned… What does the company have to lose if the strategy never gets implemented?
Through answering all of these questions above, you prepare yourself to address the issues that matter to the C-Suite, whether it’s the CEO, CFO or CMO: Time, Money, Impact and Results. Honestly, the easier you can make it for them to understand, the better chance you have to get their support and buy-in. Furthermore, arming yourself with the knowledge will allow you to speak intelligently and keep the conversation focused.
Prepare all this information and have a very clear sense of your company’s particular landscape for content marketing. It is also a good idea to share ongoing marketing education around the office. The more you focus on adding value to the customer and less about traditional demarcations of roles and responsibilities, the more meaningful and genuine these efforts become for everyone. Share your vision with your colleagues and help them personalize it. Think of the people you will need to implement your content strategy, like content matter experts, proof readers, or social brand ambassadors. If you can get them excited about content marketing and how their contributions as a team lead to customer value, you can make your recommendations to your C-Suite with even more confidence knowing that you have the right people’s buy-in who will actually be helping you do it.
Having the conversation to get buy-in
You’ve done all your prep work, feel really comfortable with your recommendation and have begun casual conversations on the subject so that there is some familiarity across the organization about content marketing. Now, you’re ready to have a formal conversation to adopt a content marketing strategy. Remember, this should play out more like a conversation than a pitch and be sure to listen carefully to everything your CEO has to say. Schedule time to discuss content marketing with the CEO and be prepared to send him any details he requests in advance. Remember to approach this particular conversation as an opportunity to offer something helpful and valuable to the business and be careful not to become defensive or aggressive if you are met with some resistance. Instead, calmly offer another way to look at the situation in question and always remain respectful.
Other tips for having a successful conversation for CEO buy-in includes:
- Begin from a place of mutual understanding. Talk about shared vision and how you’re working to achieve this through your role.
- Be extremely self-aware. Be aware of your tone and body language and try as best you can to accommodate your CEO’s personality type and how they like to receive information. Don’t get lost in details unless they ask. Be ready to adjust your manner if you can sense displeasure.
- Listen by asking the right questions. This is a conversation and by asking the right questions, you can learn so much of what you need to know and comfortably contribute with your perspective as well.
- Be agreeable even if you disagree. Even if you don’t agree, agree in the sense that you understand their objection, but would like to offer another way to look at it (whatever the issue is).
- Ask permission. Respect is everything and you are showing that respect by asking permission from a position of credibility.
- Demonstrate your credibility. Without being a fact-dropper, share the compelling data that supports your position and why this is a good thing for the business.
- Create familiarity. It is sometimes better to let it be the CEO’s idea instead of your own. Highlight the things that the business is already doing well as it relates to content marketing or cite known businesses or competitors who are doing it and what can be learned from them.
- Summary and next steps. Always offer next steps based on the discussion. He may need more information, want to discuss with his partners, think about it, or have a follow-up conversation in a week.
- Don’t give up. Even if you don’t get the green light to go forth with content marketing after this initial conversation, the seed has been planted. Understand where the conversation stands and what, if anything, you may be able to do to start a process or revisit the discussion again.
As content marketers, you know it is all about providing value to your audience and focusing on relationships. May your efforts in securing internal buy-in for content marketing efforts reflect the same care, precision, and intentionality that goes into the great work you do.
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