Once you’ve got a handle on how you look digitally, it’s not a long bow to realising how your digital content can easily increase your visibility, find new leads and solidify your position as a thought leader in your industry. But the catch is that it’s often difficult to demonstrate the ROI content marketing offers to those who control the purse strings. Here’s how to go about doing just that.
Know Your Enemy #1
Ok, the boss isn’t the enemy, but they’ll probably be ready to fire off any number of objections to your proposed content marketing strategy, especially if they’re entrenched and invested in doing things another way. So, you’ve got to anticipate any issues those higher up the food chain may have, and be ready to respond to them. Here are five you’ll probably encounter at some stage:
“I don’t know what content marketing is.”
Content marketing is about awareness, engagement and utility. When you produce content (blogs, white papers, downloadable PDFs, customer emails etc.) your aim is to make your customers aware that you know what you are talking about, make sure they understand and appreciate your message and above all, be useful to them.
“We sell hard. It’s worked before, and it’ll keep working.”
Content marketing grows your business indirectly, it’s true (in that there’s no hard selling), but the fact is that people have shorter attention spans than ever before and they’re more savvy about being sold to than ever before. Content marketing gets you customers by helping the customer realise the total value of your business and expertise to them.
“I had a bad experience with and SEO company who promised me good returns. This sounds similar.”
Anybody can claim to do anything, and then not produce. This is a dodge that doesn’t consider content marketing on its merits.
“I don’t like the fuzzy connection between lead generation and revenue generation.”
It would be great if leads and revenue worked according to a definite cause-effect relationship, but the softer and more honest touch needed in today’s market means tried and tested formulas aren’t so rock solid any more. Business need to invest in and trust the integrity of everything they produce for their customers to do the same; good, useful content is a good way to start. Furthermore, it can also be scientific in the way it is applied.
“How are you going to get good content out of air conditioning/plumbing/pest control etc?”
Ah, and now it’s the turn of the creative content marketer. Content marketing can work in any industry, regardless of how ‘unsexy’ it might be. You just need good people (doesn’t everybody?).
Address the bottom line first
Don’t gloss over it; instead, get right down to brass tacks. What does your content marketing idea mean for sales, leads and revenue? From there you can wax lyrical on increased engagement, brand awareness, and thought leadership in your industry. So first, you’ve got to understand the economics of content marketing.
Then, you’ve got to make them understand that content marketing is strategic. Many people outside the field don’t understand that there’s a whole craft to the process that ties topic selection, content placement, and promotion plans to broader business goals. Many of these decisions are driven by advanced metrics, statistics, and data. Discussing both the art and science of content marketing with the hierarchy will help to get them comfortable with the idea that this method of marketing is likely to yield a solid ROI.
Know Your Enemy #2
It’s a simple question: Why is content marketing right for your company? You’ve got to know why content marketing can solve the business problems your company faces, and how it’s going to do that, practically speaking.
You should become familiar with general ROI statistics for content marketing. Focus on metrics that are meaningful to your business: leads generated, cost per customer, cost vs. lifetime value of the customer, cost for creation, cost vs. revenue generated. Get clear about which metrics matter and try to find general back up on that area.
The ability to share relevant case studies can be highly persuasive. Many executives are under the impression that content marketing wouldn’t work for their businesses because they’re in an ‘unsexy’ industry. So all you’ve got to do is find successful content marketing strategies from your industry or industries like yours to convince them. Be creative, and look for reputable case studies that help build executive confidence. Stuff your executives and their families use on a daily basis is being sold via content marketing, and leveraging this can be extremely helpful.
The most important people in the content marketing process are the people who will be engaging with your content, so you have to demonstrate that you know your audience like the back of your hand. This means going beyond the typical demographic and sales data that the bosses are accustomed to seeing and building a complete buyer profile. Then, demonstrate how you can get in front of these audiences by creating infographics, guest posting on specific venues, or other creative approaches. Your deep knowledge of your audience’s content and buying habits, merged with your understanding of how different content types and platforms can be used to reach them, will help your proposed plan take shape in the minds of your executives.
A picture’s worth a thousand words
You don’t have to start by going all out. Why not start small and gain consensus slowly, by proposing a plan that’s limited in scope, budget and potential harm? You could launch a blog, try an awareness-raising social campaign, guest post on a product specific site or in an industry trade journal, or develop a series of engaging video clips which could be seeded via social media. Show, don’t just talk.
And finally, remember this…
Content marketing presents a fantastic opportunity for your company to develop its voice, thought leadership and value to your customer; but most importantly, it offers your company a chance to display its integrity. In an age where the dubious ethics of multinational corporations are giving business a bad name, harnessing the transparency, utility and conversational power of new media can be both a cost-effective and highly successful way to grow your brand.