Content marketing – as with marketing in general – is struggling to be taken seriously in the boardroom. The reasons are well-known: marketers are failing to learn the language of the boardroom and to take the time to expand their knowledge of other functions in the business. Whilst marketers are totally focused on their customer this can result in a lack of exposure to, and deep knowledge of, all the other aspects of their business, such as logistics, supply chain, manufacturing, HR, etc. Not to mention the commercial side: according to Econsultancy’s Voice of Marketing report, half of the FTSE 100 CEOs have an accounting or financial management background, compared to just 10% who come from marketing or advertising.
Regardless, content marketing is an increasingly pursued strategy
Despite the lack of representation at the ‘grown-ups’ table – content marketing now stands as a $44B industry (source: Custom Content Council). Accordingly, the amount of content being created is growing immensely. 70% of marketers are creating more content than last year. Whether it is viewed as a tactic, a strategy or an organizational culture, content marketing is not going away anytime soon and it’s imperative that discussions about it are elevated well beyond Marketing meetings to conversations in the boardroom.
How to bring content marketing into the boardroom
For content marketing’s stake in the business to be taken seriously, marketers need to understand how grasp the commercial and cross-departmental implications of their activities.
- “Not on Google, you don’t exist”
We recently interviewed Jason Miller, Senior Content Manager of LinkedIn Marketing Solutions. When asked how he would evangelize the merits of content marketing to the C-suite, he advocated showing them a laptop search and Google-ing your product or service: “If you’re not on the first page of Google – you don’t exist”. The only thing worse for a business than irrelevance is non-existence. That should make those in the boardroom listen.
- Show content marketing to be a revenue driver
Marketing will forever battle with the presumption that it is a cost center, not a revenue driver. This prejudice has extended to content marketing which does itself no favours when its advocates continue to validate efforts with engagement metrics rather than business metrics which show how content marketing ‘moves the needle’. Predictive analytics andContent Intelligence can now be used by the savviest of marketers to show how X investment will give Y in terms of traffic, conversion and sales. The increasing use of digital marketing and technology means we have better data to really measure the return on investment for content marketing. This will allow content marketers and CMOs to be increasingly seen as directors of customers and revenue, rather than the director of spending.
- Demonstrate that content saves money
According to the Corporate Executive Board,B2B buyers get 57 percent of the way through the buying decision before they’re even willing to talk to a sales rep.
The rise of the ‘self-educated buyer’ puts Marketing in an exceptionally advantageous spot to own the costlier aspects of the sales process. The positive cost benefit of this arrangement should be clear: since marketing deals one-to-many, marketing’s cost per engagement is much lower than sales. If marketing serves more of the customer decision process, it also saves cost-of-sales.
- Don’t just trumpet ROI, make it predictable
The CMOs that will enjoy the most success are not the ones who can produce a spike in the volume of marketing qualified leads, but those who can predict the number of marketing qualified leads that they will generate in 6 months time based on their processes. In light of this, one of the most important aspects of effective content marketing is the element of predictability. Fortunately, the content choices of a prospect are highly indicative of their interests and intent, and highly predictive of their future purchases.
- Be the hero that unifies and aligns departments
Content is no longer just the concern of Marketing. According to Altimeter’s Culture of Content report it’s now the concern of every department. As a CMO or Head of Content Marketing, you have an excellent opportunity to not just align Sales and Marketing, but also service, HR, compliance and so forth, by making sure the content you produce delivers useful customer insights to other parts of the business. Far from being the “customer-obsessed” to the point of developing a tunnel vision that blocks out the rest of the business, marketers can use the insight derived from content to extend content marketing’s utility across the organization.
The path is clear
More and more companies are putting the customer at the heart of their business and harnessing data to drive long-term growth, both of which are the natural remit of the marketing department. The path to bringing content marketing into the boardroom is clear – take this customer-centric goodwill and marry it with a confidence in reporting against including revenues, margins, and efficiency.
Enjoy this complimentary Forrester report
Want to learn more about measuring your content marketing ROI?
Access a complimentary download of Forrester’s latest research “Measure Content Marketing Success” HERE.