Effective B2B content marketing plans have the full support of the CEO and leadership team. Here’s how you woo a skeptical CEO.

Last week, we left our content maven sitting in front of a hostile CEO. He, like all CEOs, wanted to know that the content budget was well spent.

I’ve seen marketers write-off the CEO as a Luddite who doesn’t understand the power of content marketing. They try to talk down to the CEO, hoping to scare him off with a few shiny tools and vague assurances.

This is the wrong approach.

You need an enthusiastic supporter, not a dubious doubter. Do your job right and your content marketing strategy will fuel revenue growth with the full support of the leadership team. Do it wrong, and you’ll be shown the door with your blog tucked between your legs.

Let’s get it right.

Why CEOs are Content Marketing Skeptics

Effective CEOs focus on setting strategic direction, establishing the culture, recruiting talent, and growing revenues. Their focus is “macro”, the big picture, and they have learned to hand-off tactical details to their team. It’s important to understand and internalize your CEO’s mindset to communicate successfully.

Specifically, your CEO is concerned about:

  • Strategy: Do you understand the overall corporate strategy? Can you execute your strategy within the context of the traditional marketing, product development, and sales?

    Red Flags: A content marketing strategy that is not tied to a revenue or sales lead goal. At the end of the day, the business must make money not have the most likes on Facebook.

  • Marketing Mindset: Your CEO operates from either an outbound, inbound, or hybrid marketing mindset. As a content marketer, you follow the inbound methodology. You’ll have a problem connecting with a CEO who has a different marketing framework. The differing perspectives can lead to concern and skepticism.

    Red Flag: Steer away from criticizing other marketing mediums and strategies. Criticism reeks of desperation and narrow-mindedness. Your CEO will appreciate an approach that uses content to enhance their perspective.

  • Tactical Social Media Doer versus Strategic Marketing Partner: Content marketers are fascinated with content and distribution platforms. At heart, we’re tacticians who love to entertain and persuade with the tools at our disposal. Your CEO, however, values team members that can understand and extend their strategic vision not excited tacticians who focus on the details. Your company needs both but it pays to understand what catches your CEO’s attention and respect.

    Red Flag: Beware of sounding like a “social media evangelist”. Remember that content marketing is a strategic approach and social media is a customer acquisition channel. While you may love the democratizing power of Snapchat, your customers and shareholders are holding your CEO responsible for long-term strategic growth.

What A CEO-Friendly Content Marketing Plan Needs to Succeed

I suggest opening up your content marketing strategy, yes – it should be written down, and use the points below to evaluate your plan.

  • Revenue Focus:
      • Marketing & Sales Qualified Leads addresses bottom-line performance. How are you moving the revenue needle?
  • Unique Customer Insights
      • You have access to a vast storehouse of customer insights through your social channels. Your CEO needs to keep his finger on the pulse of the market and you can offer him that access.
  • Repeatable Results
      • CEOs are hunger for reliability. They value strategies that contribute to “making the number” from Q1 to Q4. Corporate leaders intuitively understand that well-crafted marketing systems can deliver repeatable results
  • Cross-Department Collaboration and Value Creation
    • Show the product team which features your customer’s value and issues that may lead to customers switching to a competitive product.
    • Alert the sales team when a potential prospect may be more receptive to discussing your company’s product.
    • Demonstrate to your CFO how content marketing can consistently drive down marketing related costs.

How to Earn Your CEO’s Trust

While It’s tempting to cast your CEO as a content marketing Luddite. But, in the end, it’s your job to move your CEO from skeptic to supporter.

Here are three ways to get started::

#1: Practice What You Preach

We’ve discussed how Buyer Personas are a potent way to hone the relevancy and tone of your content messaging. Imagine creating a buyer persona for your CEO.

Answer these questions (I’ve added example responses in italics):

What are the CEO’s objectives?

Successfully launch Product X and achieve 20% market share within 18 months

What are the obstacles she faces?

The new product is a late entry to the market which means marketing will need to actively switch customers from a competitor’s product.

What are the CEO’s immediate corporate and marketing concerns?

Funding marketing at the appropriate levels to immediately gain awareness of the new product. Making sure that the sales team get the leads needed to close quick orders in the next quarter.

What media do your CEO use and trust?

Forbes, Fortune, and Harvard Business Review

Executive Assistant monitors LinkedIn

How does the CEO prefer to make decisions?

The CEO is a collaborative thinker that seeks advice both inside and outside the company.

Can you see how a simple persona can change how you communicate? The goal here is to prove you are a strategist first then a tactician.

#2: Create Strategic Value

“Yet where brand publishing has had the most profound impact is in empowering organizations to create, facilitate, and leverage the ownership of ideas.” Content Marketing Revolution

This quote highlights a powerful insight. Your business is an idea factory. Your colleagues may not see it that way but your customers do. Consider this:

Business Product / Service Ideas (AKA “intellectual property)
Landscaping Lawn Maintenance Creating safe and fun outdoor spaces
Executive Recruiting Qualified employees Rapid recruiting strategies
Trade Association Advocacy Collaborative member marketing
Convention & Visitor’s Bureau Vacation information and meeting/convention coordination Leisure + Business partnerships
Sales Software SaaS lead pipeline management Killing Admin. Strategies for keeping sales teams in the field
Specialty Interior Decorator Redesigned bathrooms and kitchens Small bathroom makeover ideas

The Business and Product/Service columns are where everyone is focused. Smart content marketers create the Ideas, intellectual property, for their business. Intellectual property is a strategic competitive advantage for all businesses. Your CEO wants to increase both market share and “mindshare”, your ideas will help him do it.

#3: Know How To Scale Your Best Content Tactics

From my experience, all CEOs share a common trait; they always think big. A CEO once complained that most social marketers like to play with “piddly” tactics. He was frustrated with small tactical thinking. Another CEO, after getting a report on a successful marketing test, asked: “How can we 10x these results immediately?”

Your CEO is inviting you to sit at the grownup table and scaling success is the price of admission. I have a rule (be warned, it’s corny): “Grow before you show.” I’m always ready with how a plan to turn a tactical win into a strategic advantage through scaling results. I recommend you adopt the same rule.

Before we wrap up, consider this –

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” – William Arthur Ward

You need to change two things: approach/attitude and ideas. Your approach is relatively easy to change using the suggestions we’ve discussed. Ideas are harder. Your CEO might be sensing that your content marketing plan is stuffed with the same stale ideas in a fancier package.
So, you may have to go back to the basics and rethink your plan from your CEO’s point of view. We can help you. We have three Content Marketing Executive Briefing options that are designed to get you (and your CEO) on the right track. Take a moment to check them out here.