Andrew Meilleur

With the summer Olympics in London just around the corner I thought marketers may find it useful to understand how they can “take home the gold” for web marketing efforts by effectively championing the cause of content marketing for digital and brand marketing strategies within their organizations.

While “content marketing” is a relatively new buzz word for many, “content is king” is a phrase adopted and utilized by marketers since the emergence of Web 1.0. Every week Brafton’s business development team speaks in depth to dozens of marketers from businesses of all sizes and shapes about their current and future online marketing strategies, I’m always amazed that so many of the folks I speak to have little to no understanding around how a quality content strategy should be at the root of every single digital channel they are using to drive traffic and increase conversions on their websites (including SEO, social media, email marketing).

Common obstacles to content marketing investment

Just as amazing to me though are the Marketing Associates, Marketing Managers, V.P.’s, and CMO’s I speak to who fully understand how vital content is to their success yet still can’t find the resources to build the company blog that hasn’t been updated in several months, or get the time or support to write consistent, targeted industry articles and white papers, or find the time to create and share good relevant content on their Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin accounts.

When I pose the question, “If you know it’s so important to create unique content why aren’t you doing it?” the answer invariably is some version of what we here at Brafton call The Content Marketing Challenge:

  • “I don’t have the time to do it myself because I am too busy.”
  • “It’s impossible for me to wrangle up my engineers or sales reps to contribute a blog post.”
  • “I don’t know what to write about…”
  • “We won’t budget something unless we’re guaranteed immediate results.”

Another thing I hear consistently is that a marketer is bought into how important a content marketing strategy is to their success but they tell me:

  • “My boss doesn’t understand why original content is important or why we should allocate a portion of our budget in this direction.”

Let’s think about this response for a second. Our marketing champion is most likely spending time and money on SEO, social media, and email marketing initiatives under the direction of this same skeptical boss. In the world we live in today, these channels are all fueled by original and quality content, but our would-be champion still can’t get that boss to buy into a content marketing strategy … even if they all acknowledge the struggle they have in creating it frequently!

In a sense this is like buying a beautiful new sports car, putting the best tires on it, washing and waxing it, but not being willing to fill the tank with oil and fuel consistently so that it drives well.

Not investing in content marketing when you’re running SEO, email and social campaigns is like buying a beautiful new sports car, putting the best tires on it, washing and waxing it, but not being willing to fill the tank with oil and fuel so that it drives well.

In many cases though, this pushback our champion receives is directly attributable to the need for her to build up her toolbox to sell the concept and value of a content marketing strategy to superiors.

Marketers have to be ready to flex their content industry acumen if they want to retain their business’ competitive edge. More than two-thirds of respondents to Brafton’s content marketing poll said they are increasing their content creation and updates.

If you’re the marketing coordinator, content manager or marketing associate looking to get your company into the content marketing game, here is a helpful guide to take you all the way up to the gold medal in being a content marketing champion in your business.

The Bronze: Understand that content is vital to your success

In my experience marketing coordinators and associates serve as “first line of defense,” if you will, in vetting potential strategies, vendors and services. These are also typically the individuals who would actually use any new products or services in order to:

  • Maintain the company blog
  • Manage social media
  • Manage PPC campaigns
  • Link build
  • Drive SEO

As such, the marketing manager/coordinator/associate usually feels the “content marketing challenge” first-hand and, as a result, becomes the initial champion internally.

Of course, a major stumbling block may come with the question: “How do I convince my boss that we need content without looking like I am incapable of doing my job?”

The first thing your boss and superiors need to understand is that creating content is not easy, and is in many cases a full-time job. To expect that one individual in marketing can effectively produce consistent, high-quality content while also managing the remainder of their job duties is simply unrealistic. (Read more in our related blog about knowing when it’s time to call in content marketing experts.)

Explaining how a good content marketing strategy will help every segment of the marketing strategy and website perform better, while not sacrificing one single employee’s bandwidth, is the first step to making the introduction. Consider the vitality of content to the various campaigns you manage:

From an SEO perspective, consider the need for quality websites to win rankings. “Our site quality algorithms are aimed at … reducing the rankings of low-quality content.” – Amit Singhal, Google Fellow

Consider the proven effect of content on SEO, with more than 90 percent of marketers citing content creation as a top search optimization strategy.

Recognize content will build organic traffic through gradual keyword progression and link building.Content marketing has helped B2C companies drive traffic and attract new prospects.

Remember that content is what powers social shares, with one in five social media messages including links to website content. Content builds social interactions and develops fan bases on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to turn them into lead nurturing tools and revenue streams.

Fresh content is necessary to maintain or turn around email marketing campaigns, with stale content being the No. 1 reason people unsubscribe.

With this in mind, you can remind yourself (and tell your boss), “This is why we need really targeted, quality content at volume we can’t do ourselves!”

The Silver: Show the VP content marketing drives measurable web leads

So our fictional marketing manager/coordinator/associate has bought into the idea of why a content marketing strategy is vital to their success, and the viability of the digital marketing strategy as a whole, but how do they get their VP or CMO to buy in as well?

The most important thing to understand when selling any product or service up the chain of command is that what’s of importance and value to you may not necessarily be the same things that your superior cares about. Most VPs or CMOs don’t evaluate products on a “feature function” basis, or make buying decisions because its going to make their marketing coordinator’s life easier, but rather on:

  • “How much more revenue is this going to bring us?”
  • “How is this going to increase leads or conversions on the website?”
  • “How is a content marketing strategy going to supplement or support the things we are already investing in?”

A good content marketing champion can answer each of these questions or concerns with tangible facts:

  • “Relevant, valuable content will drive more qualified traffic to download our white paper”
  • “Having consistent quality content will drive our email marketing investments”
  • “Having a high-volume content marketing strategy will address the struggles we have had with lead generation and lead nurturing”

The Gold: Get CEO buy-in through content-driven market share and thought leadership

So all of the pertinent members of the marketing team are in agreement that a content marketing strategy will help in making their jobs easier while also allowing them to meet goals and revenue figures. How do you get the budget approved by your CEO/COO/CFO?

Data from a Brafton client shows that nearly 7 percent of prospects that viewed a news page converted, compared to less than 4 percent who did not.

At the highest levels of any business, the goals and responsibilities of the chief executives who hold the purse strings are certainly going to be different than most of their employees, but almost universally all care about market share:

  • “How is this service going to build our brand?”
  • “How is this going to position us as leaders in the market?”
  • “How is this going to drive revenue?”

The good news is that content marketing is highly effective for each of their points:

While selling content marketing to your boss or CEO may not get you a onto the medal stand in London this summer, the front of a Wheaties box or the cover of Sports Illustrated, it will most certainly deliver results and help maximize your current and future marketing strategies, so go out and get the gold!