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How to Sell Content Marketing to My Boss

WRITTEN by: Kari Palmer |
categories: Content Marketing

Oct 2013


Taking a Lesson from Social Media

I had the pleasure of starting my agency career a few years before social media emerged as a marketing activity. Years later, I found myself helping fellow marketers try to sell social media to their bosses. Like most new marketing activities, it was tough to sell during the early adopter phase, but then it got easier as more companies adopted social media as a marketing activity.

Content Marketing is in the early majority phase, which means that a lot of brands and agencies are still learning what it is and resistant to adopt. Marketers today can learn how to sell content marketing from their past struggles with selling social media to their bosses.


Content Marketing is Not New

One of the reasons that social media was so difficult to sell in the early adopter and into the early minority phase was because it was a new way of communicating, and not many people understood what it was let alone what the business application was for social media. Of those who understood the business application, even fewer understood how to measure its effectiveness and therefore sell social media as a marketing activity.

A big difference I see between the two practices is that people have been executing content marketing since they started marketing; it is not new. The practice of content marketing forces a marketer to think about the story its brand is telling and to which audiences they are exposing the company’s message during every stage of the selling process.

Today, in many industries like B2B and healthcare, 60% of the decision is made before a customer even comes in direct contact with your product or service. As the online environment becomes even more crowded, web users want content that is relevant and entertaining. Therefore the need for content marketing is greater than it was in the early adopter phase.

Today, content has more places (think Vine, Instagram and Pinterest) and ways it can be expressed (think videos, photos with text and infographics). Therefore the need to categorize it as a marketing activity helps marketers to define it, plan for it and execute content. Content marketing is not new, but the way it is categorized to survive in today’s marketing landscape is new to many executives.


Proving ROI

Marketers can learn from the struggles they experienced 3-5 years ago during the early social media discussions they had with their bosses. Similarities between the two include a lack of understanding for the practice, disappointment in the lack of immediate ROI, no direct sales correlation and the fact that it takes time to prove its value.

I’ve watched many marketers succeed in selling social media to their bosses. Along with overcoming varied objections, and using awareness metrics like followers, shares and community interactions, these marketers have common characteristics. If you struggle with one or more, ask for help! I guarantee that a fellow marketer has encountered a similar problem.

Marketers who succeeded in selling social media in the past are successful today in selling content marketing to their bosses because they have the following characteristics:

  1. Ability to recognize that social media wasn’t a fad but an important trend
  2. Willingness to take a risk
  3. Recognition of the fact that they are giving their audience what they want
  4. Understanding of how to combine PR/Social/Digital

Responding to or generating real-time editorial content that consumers want to read, see or interact with is a content marketer’s ultimate goal. This is the nature of the social and PR business.

So start selling content marketing to your boss by reminding him or her of the big picture, reassuring them that ROI will come. And be sure to share indicators of success every step of the way.

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