How to make sure your content marketing gets c-suite buy-in

You wouldn’t report to your CEO the same way you talk data with your marketing team. Make sure you make the business case for content marketing buy-in.

Time is money, so let’s get straight into it.

Here is our guide to how senior marketers can talk with the c-suite to get content marketing buy-in.

Know your audience

Knowing your audience is an often repeated marketing tenet, but the saying doesn’t just apply to your public-facing content. The c-suite is just another audience you have to understand how to communicate with meaningfully. So, before you launch into a spiel about all the amazing things your content marketing has done, make sure you understand what the c-suite wants. What are their drivers? What are their priorities? How do they like to be communicated with?

The Morar HPI’s Marketing Decision Makers Report, commissioned by Marketo, found that 40% of marketers feel their c-suite does not listen to them or understand the nuances of marketing. A lack of open communication can cause a disconnect through misaligned goals or misunderstanding shared priorities.

“When the priorities of marketers and CEOs are different, marketing departments will continue to struggle to get the budget, technology, and tools they need. Internally, marketers need to sell the benefits of engaging customers,” Marketo’s senior marketing director, Chris Connell said.

First and foremost, avoid getting caught in marketing speak. This means get rid of marketing jargon and provide appropriate context. But depending on who you are talking to in the leadership team, getting the language right can be a balancing act.

The c-suite is also time poor and competition for their attention is stiff. Make sure your message is presented clearly and concisely. Avoid piles and piles of reports. Instead include relevant case studies and executive summaries that get to the key points, and your chances of buy-in increase.

Communicate more

One approach I have heard works well is to feed your bosses little bits of information and reports on a regular basis.

If a piece of content got picked up by a media outlet or performed well you might want to drop them a brief note, email, text, slack message – to share the good news. It is a lot harder to build an understanding of what content marketing does when it is only communicated once in a while. Reporting doesn’t always have to be a formal process; it can also be a way of inviting the c-suite into your world and building important relationships.

Talk their metric language

Every area of a business monitors specific metrics. However, these metrics don’t always align perfectly. When a CEO, for example, is looking at the bottom line the question front of mind will be: ‘we spent money, what did we get in return?’. Content marketing can easily be seen as a cost centre if its value is not clearly shown so think about demonstrating how it enables sales, streamlines service and supports revenues.

For example, marketers can track conversions and show that their content moved the reader beyond engagement. Metrics to track could also include other actions that show movement in the sales funnel like subscribing to a newsletter.

If your content marketing strategy is tied to broader business goals (and it really should be), and if you set measures of success for each program (and you really should have), it’s easy to show how your program contributes to what the company wants to accomplish. Pick out select data points that speak the c-suite’s language. The c-suite, for the most part, speaks in the language of revenue, turnover and costs. These are the areas to focus on.

Look for road blocks to buy-in

Content marketing is a long-term game. A person will rarely read a single piece of content and then be immediately persuaded to buy your products or services. Content marketing needs a lot of strategic nudging to move people along the sales funnel. As you make these nudges, some apparently negative metrics will appear. For example, attempts to improve conversions may cause decreases in email subscriptions as those who are not your target market are driven away. You may need to explain this to the c-suite and show how the apparently negative metric is helping you focus on achieving business objectives with a smaller but more engaged audience. Even better, proactively explain both the risks and rewards before the metrics come to fruition.

The key is to focus on the big picture and what the business thinks is important.

Hannah Dixon contributed to the writing of this piece.

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About the Author

Job Title: Head of Client Services

About Cara McLeod: Cara is Mahlab’s Head of Client Services. She leads both client services and advertising sales teams to ensure that whoever we engage get the best content marketing fix the company can provide. In her pre-Mahlab years, she worked for international publishers across Europe and North America on the business side for Murdoch Books, before moving to New York to help Australian start-up Bookstr develop its revenue model. She is the proud mum of one bub called Micah, who featured as a star in such Direct Advice for Dads videos as ‘DAD swaddling techniques – The Summer Scrum’.

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