As content marketers, we constantly preach the value of understanding the questions and objections that customers pose at each stage of the buying journey.With that in mind, we should take the time to better understand the questions and objections the C-Suite will pose, at each stage of the cycle of planning for marketing strategy, to a recommendation that asks for an investment in content marketing.
While many of us in B2B marketing believe in a content marketing approach that delivers consistent value to a specific target audience with a specific profitable behavior in mind for the brand, we need to recognize that many in management have not yet been exposed to the statistics, case studies and anecdotes from peers that suggest this approach is more effective than a traditional “me me me” advertising focus.
Based on my experience, I’ve outlined a content marketing investment journey and the applicable objections to overcome.
Making The CMO Aware Of Content Marketing
Your CMO has probably heard of content marketing by now. However, she may not fully understand how content marketing applies to your particular industry or your company’s primary business objectives.
Before we go into her office with a fully baked strategy and execution plan, let’s make our position known, back it up, and align it with one or two business objectives. She’s going to ask, “Why do I need to change the way we currently do marketing?”
Start by identifying weak points in your funnel and noting what education the buyer may not have to continue considering a solution. You’re not going to perform a full content audit, yet — you are simply going to use your documentation on conversion weak points to show the overlap between your CMO’s burning issues and where content marketing can be most helpful.
At this point, we are going to frame the challenge as one of improving trust with our target market. While your program may look different if you are primarily trying to improve awareness than if you are trying to improve lead conversions, gaining trust with your audience is critical in either case. Here are some industry wide stats to show to your CMO, at the same time you are explaining the business issue:
- Search engines are now more trusted than traditional media as a source for news and information. (2015 Edelman Trust Barometer)
- Only 25% of consumers let a vendor know of their interest early in the customer journey. (Demand Metric)
- 74% of customers prefer to get to know a brand through articles than through ads. (Roper Public Affairs)
You’ve piqued the interest of your CMO. She’s starting to think about the degree to which your target audience trusts your brand at different stages of the buying cycle. She also understands that your B2B audience is going to do a lot of research throughout their journey, not just at the end. She asks you to come back with more information.
Making The Case Against Overly Promotional Techniques
It’s time to get more specific about the business goals associated with your recommendation and offer up some examples of what your content marketing program would look like.
Let’s just call it out. At this point, your CMO is thinking about re-allocating budget from traditional advertising. We’re probably not getting an extra pot of money from the C-Suite.
Use Google AdWords: Keyword Planner to show the relative interest in your brand keywords versus topical non-brand keywords. This data will help illustrate the opportunity to the business if you focus more on the customers’ interests than your brand story.
Second, you’ll use the topics you identify through this exercise to explain how you can cultivate trust at specific points in the buying cycle through education. For example, you may use these topics to develop new lead nurturing campaigns for specific customer segments.
Your CMO is getting the picture about the opportunity and the general focus of content marketing. Let’s provide some case studies on what content marketing looks like.
- Lead Generation Case Study (ADP) – The payroll company ADP developed a human capital management diagnostic tool that serves up specific white papers after you provide information about your industry and human capital management challenges. This content marketing program allowed customers to understand the gaps in their human capital strategy and, for ADP, resulted in a million dollars in new sales.
- Brand Health Case Study (Chango) – The advertising tech company Chango needed prospects to understand they had a sophisticated programmatic advertising solution. Instead of launching an advertising campaign for their product, Chango launched the Programmatic Mind, a print magazine to educate marketers about the complexities and use cases for programmatic advertising. Traffic to the magazine’s web landing page has increased 10 times since the magazine launched, establishing Chango as a thought leader in the industry.
You are going to offer your CMO ways to start small(ish) with content marketing. You may start with a diagnostic tool and a couple of white papers, like ADP, and scale from there. Or you may want to outline the broad parameters of a blog that is aimed at one particular audience segment.
Closing The Content Marketing Deal
You’re dressed to the nines for your final meeting with the CMO. It’s time to talk about expected ROI, resources needed and getting started.
It’s important to be frank that content marketing is a long game. It’s rare that you launch a content marketing program and the leads just start rolling in. It takes time to build an audience and gain their trust. However, it’s well worth it once you do. We’re going to talk in terms of conversion rates and cost per lead.
- Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at a 33% lower cost (Forrester).
- Once a content marketing operation has had time to engage and audience, the number of marketing qualified leads garnered can increase by 75% (Kapost).
Make a commitment to support your company’s specific goals for qualified leads and conversion rates. Show your CMO an example of a content marketing dashboard that outlines how content will help usher customer’s through the funnel.
Your CMO loves you. Let’s show her you can execute flawlessly. Before you leave the room, ask for 30 days to complete the aforementioned content audit that will help identify what content you need to create, repurpose or retire. You will take those results and then fully flesh out the program ideas you provided in the consideration phase of your meetings.
Building Trust With The CMO
Michael Brenner often says “marketing has a marketing problem.” It’s time we did a better job of educating senior management on how we can improve marketing results with a content marketing approach to marketing.
Hopefully, you are now armed with the stats, case studies and company specific metrics to make the case. Let me know how it goes in the comments.