How to (Quickly) Get Content Marketing Strategy Executive Buy-In

December 9, 2016 Jonathan Crowl

Building a content strategy for enterprise organizations.

There’s a major difference between creating content and embracing a full content marketing strategy. Let’s say you’re the VP of marketing at a division of a major financial institution, and you recognize the power of content. You’ve already got many of the biggest pieces of a content strategy in place: you’re regularly publishing on your blog, you’ve got a few active social media accounts, and you send an email newsletter once a week. Much of that content is helping grab the attention of some of your target readers.

But for a complex organization with multiple divisions across the world, that’s not doing much to unite your marketing under a common message and story.

According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), nearly a quarter (24 percent) of B2B enterprise marketers cite the “lack of buy-in/vision from [internal] higher-ups” as a major challenge. This makes sense: the stakes are high with this sort of approach. Even if you’ve been doing light content creation for months, your execs will still be inclined to scrutinize your decision to formalize a company-wide approach. They will want to know your reasons why, your goals, your game plan, and some kind of evidence that this time and resource-intensive approach will pay off.

You know you have to convince leadership, but there’s another, bigger issue to contend with. Recently, you were doing research to paint a clear picture of your audience for your senior team, and you stumbled across a graph:

Preferred Retail Banking

It dawned on you that while you’re sinking time into convincing your higher-ups that content is worth your entire company’s time, you’re losing time. The 80-million-strong-in-the-US-alone Millennial audience you’re hoping to connect with is already writing you off, in favor of other, faster banks with more personalized (and higher quality) online banking experiences than most enterprise institutions have developed. Your website doesn’t even have built-in chat. Your banking app is clunky. No wonder they’re disinterested.

So not only do you need buy-in from higher-ups, you need it immediately—you don’t have time to lose. And without the backing of your entire company, you simply don’t have enough manpower to speak on behalf of your entire enterprise. You need everyone’s support: social presence from all of your employees, internal contributors, LinkedIn shares, new marketing technologies. Your team may be in charge of executing on the brand storytelling venture as a whole, but strategy development is a top-down process that requires the involvement of brand leadership. From there, your team has to work with other departments to create a comprehensive approach that takes advantage of the various expertises housed within the enterprise.

What’s your next move?

Bank

Now’s the time to act. To get buy-in as fast as possible, you’ll need to follow an efficient process. Otherwise, you’ll end up doubling back on work that’s already done. Here’s where to start.

Sketch the Bones

Even before you undertake the task of identifying your audience and choosing the types of content to create, you’ll need to draft a skeletal outline of your content strategy—one that details voice, tone, guidelines, narrative, and, most importantly, goals. As Deloitte pointed out, everything that falls under the content umbrella should navigate according to two essential goals:

1. Cohesive messaging

Make a concerted effort to ensure your brand voice is consistent across all types of content, regardless of its point of origin. This messaging needs to be defined in the early development stages in order for the messaging to form a solid foundation from which content and strategy can grow.

2. Content Efficiency

This means you’ll need to create content that is cost-effective and capable of driving positive ROI. Enterprise brands are rapidly coming to expect proof that marketing efforts are driving ROI, which means marketers must be economical about their approaches to creation. And when you’re involving staff outside the marketing department, you’ll need a good argument in place for borrowing those workers and utilizing their time and skills.

Another key component of content efficiency is building a strategy for distribution. Between organic search, social media, paid search and other channels, marketing content needs to have a distribution plan in place. Being able to efficiently disseminate this content means you’ll have an easier time reaching an audience and driving ROI

Craft a Strategy That Involves the Whole Enterprise

Your team may be agile, creative, or capable of heavy lifting already, but as a best practice, your team members should not be creating content on their own. The diverse demands of marketing make a joint approach a natural one, because marketers can go outside of their own department to tap the talents and expertise of other professionals. Think of your strategy like a mosaic: one massive portrait of your brand’s story that’s been painted by the challenges, successes, voices, and talents of each employee.

In addition to marketing, tech, public relations, sales, and executive leadership personnel can all participate in an enterprise-wide content strategy. Organizations should explore opportunities to create content through interdepartmental alliances.

This can impact marketing in several regards: not only can staff create content jointly, but they can also work branded roadshows together, collaborate on educational materials and strategies, and activate more of your employees as advocates for your content—and, by that measure, your brand.

The end result is better content, a clearer and more consistent brand message, and an internal synergy that manifests itself in your consumer-facing communications.

Build a Foundation in Analytics

Your game plan is only as good as its governance. Think of how a football team prepares for a big game: coaches and players might know their own strengths and weaknesses, and they might be able to put together a game plan capable of beating a much better team.

But execution is everything, and to do it effectively, you’ll need a governance plan in place to ensure the goals of your content strategy are fulfilled. This can be handled by marketing management, providing oversight of the larger strategy, and activities incorporating other departments. Leaders can monitor compliance and other issues related to your organizational guidelines, and to the goals set forth by your content strategy.

Once you have that, it’s time to unveil your strategy to your audience at large.

One final key component of this process—and one that will ensure you retain buy-in as your strategy evolves—is content measurement. This eBook from Convince and Convert’s Jay Baer and the CMI provides a detailed breakdown of the four major content marketing metrics: consumption metrics, sharing metrics, lead generation metrics, and sales metrics. As Baer noted, “What we must learn to understand is that content helps achieve business objectives, not content objectives. Creating valuable content is the means, not the end.” In other words, as you consider your analytics, make sure you bring things back to the company. How many valuable leads is your content generating, quarter over quarter, that your sales team can then connect with? Are readers subscribing to your newsletter? Which articles are converting leads at faster rates? Marketing automation tools can help you compile this data so you can focus on putting together a compelling story that captivates your execs each time you meet.

Going forward, analytics will play a critical role in measuring ROI and hitting your revenue goals, which executive leadership will be interested to see. The use of analytics will guide other aspects of your strategy going forward, including which types of content are most fruitful, which distribution channels are most successful, and where marketers should focus their resources in the future.

CMI reported that “46 percent of enterprise marketers who have [a documented content strategy] say their organizations are effective at content marketing.” That’s solid validation that your dedication to creating a plan that generates buy-in will yield potent long-term results. You’ll end up with a plan that not only sets your organization up to grow later, but ensures your efforts are cost-effective, cohesive, and supportive of the larger brand goals. And by bringing in the talents of other departments, you’ll elevate your own performance and build an approach to content that is truly reflective of your organization and audience alike.

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