A Step by Step Guide on How to Approach Your Boss for Content Marketing Budgets
Content marketing is a powerful marketing strategy. In a world where consumers have no dearth of content on the internet, a good marketer understands the value of providing quality content. A consumer who is inundated with advertisements looks for quality content in the trash they receive in terms of mailers and commercials. Multiple surveys affirm the fact that content marketing is the new way of marketing. Seth Godin, the famous American author, entrepreneur and marketer, goes to the extent of saying “Content marketing is the only marketing left”.
But, then, why don’t most companies quickly embrace this magical marketing technique?
Well, there are several reasons for their reluctance. The most prominent reason is the continuous effort required for this task and subsequent allocation of dedicated workforce. Content marketing is not a one-time effort. It takes continuous planning, monitoring, and refining of content and strategies to achieve a certain set of goals. Unlike marketing collateral, which is designed once and shared multiple times, content marketing is an activity that demands ongoing production. As most marketers are used to working on a model that demands only one-time effort, content marketing seems like a publisher’s job to them.
Some marketers also feel that content marketing campaigns often don’t have an immediate end-result in sight, and this makes this technique a little unattractive for those who are used to a model with instant gratification. To a lot of marketers, content marketing seems to be a daunting task that requires a publisher’s mindset.
In this article, we will discuss why embracing content marketing is a smart decision and how you should persuade your boss and your team to experiment with content marketing.
The Power of Content Marketing
Content marketing is the marketing process of creating quality content to attract your target audience and drive positive action from them. Content marketing can be driven through all media channels – print, online and social – in order to drive customers at different stages of their journey with the brand. Content marketing can be powerful for a brand in many ways:
- Increased reach and name recognition: When you provide quality content to the customer, you address the needs of the customers. By providing quality content, you increase your reach and recognition amongst the customers.
- Lead generation: Quality content helps a brand create sales leads as well. For example, if customers are impressed by the content, they might leave their contact details for a subscription. This is an important lead for a brand.
- Image development: A customer will develop an image about you based on the content on your website. If you provide quality and useful content, they will believe in you and your brand.
- Customer development: By providing quality content, you entice a user to return your website. You might convince the customer to move ahead in their journey with your brand. For example, quality content might transform a customer who regularly buys your product into a brand evangelist as well.
- Thought leadership: Content marketing helps a B2B brand establish thought leadership in their domain.
Changes Are Daunting
As discussed at the beginning of the article, people have inhibitions in accepting something so different from traditional marketing. It takes some time, persuasion, and results to convince people that content marketing yields superb results in the long run. Here are the comments that you will come across while persuading people to invest in content marketing:
- It’s not a marketer’s job: You will hear a lot of people saying that it’s traditionally not a marketer’s job. Content marketing is more like educating the customer. It’s about writing content – a publication house would do much better!
- There is a lot of investment: From a dedicated team to people with good writing skills, it asks for a lot of investment to begin with.
- It’s a completely new way of working: The thought process that goes behind designing a traditional marketing plan and a content marketing plan is different. It definitely needs a shift in thought process.
- It might fade out soon: There is already so much content out there. Why would people ask for more? This trend will die out soon.
- It will not work with all kinds of audiences: Now, this is a tricky question, because you will have to analyze the kind of audience in question. Not all kinds of content work with all kinds of audiences – so you will have to weigh your options before you counter this argument.
Content marketing is not something that can provide instant gratification and is somewhat new in the world of marketing. Therefore, you will have to convince people that surveys show results and the impact of content marketing.
The Power of Convincing
Let’s digress a little from the topic and talk about the power of convincing. It’s only when you understand how to convince people that you will be able to strongly put your point across. As discussed, we now know that change is often daunting and people always find reasons to stick to what they know are good. You need to be really convincing to get people to adapt to something like content marketing, which needs significant amount of time and money. Here is what you can do:
- Believe in your idea and build your knowledge around it: Until and unless you believe in your own ideas and strive to learn honestly about the domain, you will not be able to convince anyone else. Therefore learn, learn and learn!
- Shake the existing belief: You can’t convince anybody to do anything new until you make them believe that what they have been doing so far is either redundant or will be redundant soon.
- Encourage discussion: The biggest tool for persuasion is discussion. Until you speak to people, listen to their views and put across your views, you will not be able to compel them to think.
- Provide proofs: Once you have established enough credibility through your knowledge and discussion, put forth the proofs – the results of your past experiences and trusted sources – to make them believe that whatever you have said so far is true.
Let’s see how you can apply the same principles when convincing people to introduce content marketing into their marketing strategy.
Convincing Your Boss
Approach your boss like you would approach a new client for a business proposal. Keep in mind that your boss also has to meet revenue goals with the limited amount of resources. Therefore, start with educating and talk in detail about the benefits.
Of course, convincing your boss to do anything new can be a challenge until and unless he/she is a sport and a risk taker. There are other factors such as your equation with your boss that come into play as well. However, assuming that your boss is open to listening to new ideas and is ready to take risks if he/she sees value, you can take the following route.
1. Pitch your idea:
The first step is to pitch the idea to your boss. Your pitch should be well thought of. Do your homework in advance. Think about how content marketing can help your company reach out to customers better.
Take a step back and think about your company’s business model, values, goals, plans for the year and see where content marketing fits in. Think about the reasons that compel you to invest in content marketing:
- Is it because you think it’s required?
- Is it because your competitors are leveraging the technique?
- Is it because you think you will be left behind if you don’t follow the trend?
Analyze these reasons and come up with a reasoning as to why content marketing is the route you must follow. Ensure that when you speak to your boss, you are very clear about what you want to achieve through content marketing.
Also, don’t forget to talk about the benefits of content marketing in general:
- Present facts about how consumers prefer getting to know a company via articles and blogs rather than commercials.
- Talk about how the old marketing techniques such as direct mail and advertisement don’t work with audiences now.
2. Explain how it will help in achieving the desired goals:
Don’t just talk about terminal goals. Break them into different categories. Explain how content marketing can help you increase revenues, brand awareness, conversion rates, sales leads and establish thought leadership.
When you approach your boss, also have the entire plan in place. Don’t just talk about what goals you plan to achieve but also talk about how you plan to achieve these goals. If possible, make a mock plan and define the success metrics. Be prepared to answer these four questions:
- What type of time commitment will the project require?
- What is the budget required to make this project a success?
- How are you planning the resource allocation? Can we do with the existing resources?
- What are the success metrics?
It is quite obvious that your boss or leadership team has some concerns about the content marketing investment.
Listen to the concerns:
- Don’t just dismiss your boss’s concern about your idea or plan. Take notes of what looks like a roadblock.
- Busy year – Does your boss think that the marketing calendar planned for this year is completely chock-a-block and there is no room for anything new?
- Deadlines: Does your boss feel that your plans are too ambitious and you might have to span the timeline?
- Budget: Is budget a constraint?
- Resource allocation: Are there enough people in the team?
- Hiring new resources or vendors: Do you have the approval and budgets to engage a third party to do this task for you? Do you know of a vendor who can submit a proposal anytime soon?
All these concerns are logical. Therefore, you must pay close attention to them. Think about how you can address these concerns. Encourage inputs from your boss on all aspects of your planning, starting from the goal you have identified to the budgets.
3. Address the concerns logically:
If your boss encourages the idea but also expresses concern, it is a good sign. Addressing those concerns should be the next step.
- Window for an initiative: Think about the marketing calendar and see if there is a good window to initiate a new activity. Can you club the pilot of your content marketing plan with an ongoing activity?
- Re-think about the deadlines: Are you taking risks by tightening the deadlines? Can you look at spanning the content marketing plan for a longer time with less strenuous deadlines to meet? If this is the first time you are going to work as a team on a content marketing project, it’s better to go slow, assimilate the customer responses and refine your strategies eventually.
- Budget: Budget is a big factor. Are you clear about what you want to achieve in the given budget? You can’t have a budget under “get more customers” category. From the very beginning, you need to be very clear about where you are going to invest the money – to improve the search rankings or to fuel your social media presence or something else. Think about the Return of Investment (RoI). Can you come up with a plan that requires less money in the beginning or a model of periodic investment? You can discuss with third-party agencies to have a flexible business model in place.
- Resource allocation: It’s not always necessary to hire new set of resources. The existing team members can be trained to take up this task. Figure out if your current team has the bandwidth to take a new project. Are they interested in taking it up? Where and how do you start the training?
4. Do a pilot:
Once you have refined your plan, go back to your boss and discuss the changes. Encourage your boss to allow you to take a pilot program with a select few team members. If possible, speak to the people who you want to be on board, in advance. At this stage, you must be ready to get the ball rolling as soon as you get approvals.
A plan that fits the company’s goals will definitely find place in the marketing calendar sooner or later. So, keep trying. Look for suitable opportunities to pitch the idea.
5. Identify the challenges and refine the plan
A good planner often does meticulous analysis of the pilot before rolling off the new project. Irrespective of your pilot project’s success or failure, think of ways in which you can improve.
- Take a note of what worked for you and what didn’t: Did those things not work because there was something missing in the plan?
- Think about the budget in the full-fledged project: Do you think you can save some more? Do you think you need to invest more than what you expected?
- Think about the selection of resources: Do you plan to continue with the same team or would you want to hire experienced resources? Do you think hiring a third-party expert can work out for you?
It’s only when you identify the challenges that you will be able to come up with a successful full-fledged plan.
Conclusion: As customers today are inundated by advertisements and direct mailers, these traditional marketing techniques have lost their charm. Marketers today therefore should focus on providing customers with something valuable instead of hard selling their products. Quality content is one of the best ways to attract customers towards their brand.
Quality content not only reflects a brand’s respect for its image, but also the commitment to maintain quality in all aspects of their operation. Content marketing is therefore a trending marketing technique. If you think that content marketing is the way forward for you, then you must discuss with your team and your boss to see how best you can leverage this technique for your company’s marketing.
To start the discussion, you need to convince your boss about the value in this investment.
- You need to explain why content marketing is an economical yet effective way of reaching out to your target audience.
- You shouldn’t hesitate to educate your boss if he/she is not completely aware of how content marketing works.
- You must start from informing your boss about the benefits of content marketing and why is it trending in the marketing industry currently.
- You must also tell your boss about how content fits into your current marketing plan and how you can leverage it to meet the terminal goals of your business.
If possible, prepare a mock plan to present the possibilities you can explore. If your boss has concerns, hear them intently and come up with ideas to address the concerns. The plan can then be run as a pilot project by a selected group of people for a limited time frame. The learning from the pilot project can be applied to the final content marketing plan that you come up with. If your boss has concerns about the budget, explain how content marketing provides value in very little budget as compared to any other marketing technique.