Mustering internal support for any marketing program can be a challenge, but content marketing presents more obstacles than most. To begin with, not many people know what content marketing is – including some content marketers! This is because content marketing is a rather new form of marketing, and even the experts haven’t settled on a standard definition.
Thus, the place to start in terms of gaining internal buy-in is to provide the staff with a single definition of content marketing. This ensures that everyone is at least starting out on the same page when program specifics are discussed.
If you’re looking for a definition, the Content Marketing Institute has crafted a very nice one:
“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” (CMI)
Probably the key point here, and one that’s usually missed, is that content marketing is strategic. People often have the idea that content marketers do nothing but carpet bomb the blogosphere and social media sites with pages and pages of random information. This misconception leads people to the conclusion that content marketing is irrelevant, because the masses on Twitter and Facebook don’t care about their business, and also risky, because competitors might pick up valuable information or even trade secrets. If this is what internal leadership has in mind, it is no wonder they view the risk-reward equation for content marketing to be very unfavorable.
To overcome these worries, it’s useful to stress three things.
- First, content marketing isn’t about communicating everything to everybody; instead, it is about communicating relevant things to relevant people.
- Second, content marketing isn’t about communicating for the sake of communicating; instead, it is about communicating for the sake of producing some type of profitable activity.
- Third, content marketing isn’t about giving away the store; instead, it is about giving away enough information that people are interested in walking into the store.
Until there is agreement on these three points, I think it’s premature to start pitching specific campaigns, talking about which social media sites to use, and laying out editorial calendars for the blog. Before things like these will be given serious consideration, corporate leadership must believe that content marketing has a profitable purpose.
Once the staff accepts content marketing as being profitable in a general way, the next step is to go into more detail about how it is profitable. Content marketing can be used to pursue many business objectives. Some of the more popular include –
- Establishing thought leadership
- Building brand awareness and brand affinity
- Engaging customers and prospects to improve customer service
- Gathering market intelligence
- Securing referrals
- Generating direct sales leads
While some of these objectives are more measurable than others, they are all worth pursuing. It’s wise to discuss specific objectives and their associated metrics early on, both because the staff is likely to be supportive of the goals, and also because everyone will have the right expectations about how and how precisely program elements will be evaluated.
Laying the right conceptual groundwork for the staff may take months or hours, but either way, it will prevent a lot of heartburn down the road when attention turns to content marketing tactics. Generally, internal support is lukewarm for anything new that doesn’t seem to pay. Our job as content marketers is to heat things up inside the box!
This Content is Currency blog post was written by Brad Shorr, Director of Content & Social Media for Straight North. The agency serves a wide range of businesses, from dentists to credit card processors. Learn more: http://www.straightnorth.com.