You know what can be achieved through content marketing, and you’ve gotten your C-suite to give you the green light on testing it out. But when it comes to granting the budget increase needed to optimize your efforts, the results can be difficult for everyone on your team to fully visualize.
The Content Marketing Institute reported that the most effective B2B marketers are, on average, allocating 42 percent of their budgets to content marketing, and more than half are planning for an increase in the next year. But just because it’s a growing trend doesn’t mean that ROI is guaranteed. Each brand and small business needs to understand how to optimize its efforts and get the most return on the C-suite’s investment — after all, your content’s ROI will either be your budget’s saving grace or the nail in its coffin.
In order to secure more resources to improve your current content strategy — whether that means hiring more team members, outsourcing your efforts, or utilizing other resources — you need your C-suite fully on board. And to do that, you need to showcase exactly what that investment can deliver.
The hard truth is that all the tactics and best practices that can result in improved ROI take time and energy. Your marketing team can’t do it alone. That’s why you need a solid strategy for bringing your executives and your sales team into the content pipeline.
1. Bring the C-suite into the creative process.
The leaders making the big decisions about the future of your organization should absolutely be involved in content creation. Including their expertise and industry leadership in your content creation can help you craft stronger, more engaging, and more authoritative content.
And this step doesn’t have to take up hours and hours of your busiest executives’ time, either. Our marketing team uses a knowledge bank to collect and organize important information from our company leaders, and it not only makes content creation simpler, but it also saves us a lot of time in the process. To create your own internal bank, download this customizable knowledge management template.
2. Get the C-suite distributing content.
In addition to coming up with ideas and anecdotes for your marketing team to use, the executives populating your C-suite can be some of your most valuable players in that content’s distribution. Get started by involving them in sharing the content they helped you create with their networks across social platforms and on LinkedIn’s publishing platform. Seeing the reach of their content can help your C-suite feel more invested in your efforts and more motivated to share content in the future — and that attitude can extend to other employees, customers, and partners.
3. Connect with your sales team.
Content can drive your business’s revenue forward. It brings new leads to your website, and it can help close deals faster. Work with the head of your sales team to learn how you can help him or her close deals with content, and encourage members of your content team to sit in on sales calls or sales meetings to learn more about the pain points your prospects face.
Maybe you can create a blog post that alleviates a concern a prospect has. Perhaps you can create an infographic to clarify a complex aspect of your product or service. Connect your content with the revenue generators of your company, and you’ll forget why ROI ever seemed like a problem.
4. Set up your back end to nurture and close leads.
No matter how engaging your content is, how pretty your blog looks, or how many times you’re published in TechCrunch, if your sales team isn’t reaching out to leads who are visiting your site and downloading your whitepapers, you’re leaving dollar bills on the ground.
You need to optimize your back end if you’re going to make your content budget pay off. Invest in a CRM system, and talk to your sales team about working your inbound leads. If you aren’t paying attention to analytics to see where your traffic is coming from, there’s no way you’ll see the kind of ROI you need to get that big budget next year.
5. Ask for help when you need it.
You can only do so much in a day, week, or quarter, and content marketing doesn’t just stop once you’ve written a piece and published it. You’ve got to share it, maximize it, build on it, and use it to generate revenue for your team.
Be honest with yourself. Think about how much time it takes to develop and execute a content strategy that delivers the return your C-suite needs to see to keep from pulling the plug; then, think about how much time you really have available to dedicate to it. It will often be more cost-effective to outsource some of your efforts to a partner capable of illuminating and jump-starting your content strategy for you.
Be careful, though; passing the buck to an external agency won’t work. No matter how good your partner is, without an engaged leadership team setting the example, a proactive sales team, and a back end optimized for revenue generation, there probably won’t be a content marketing budget next year.
By connecting your content efforts directly to your C-suite, however, the whole company can benefit — and ROI can soar. That means a bigger budget next time around and better content marketing for years to come.