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3 tips to build a business case for content marketing

building a business case

Globally, Content Marketing is emerging as the go-to strategy for lead generation and it’s now gaining popularity with New Zealand marketers. So if your business is new to Content Marketing, how do you go about building the business case and convincing senior management?

Content marketing is certainly gaining traction. Leading New Zealand brands like Vend and Xero have been quick to adopt and apply it globally. So it might not be long before senior managers are asking why you aren’t using it to boost your companies lead generation efforts. Find out why planning your pitch carefully is so important and our three tips for building a successful business case.

Will you be ready for the conversation? Or will you be initiating it?

When it comes to building the business case for Content Marketing, there’s certainly no shortage of research to back up the effectiveness of a well executed Content Marketing strategy (see Two Words ‘Content Marketing‘). Marketers across a range of B2C and B2B industries are creating and distributing educational content to create awareness, attract visitors, generate leads and convert prospects into customers. These organisations are ensuring their visibility is high when it counts – when purchasers are at the start of their buying process and when they are actively researching problems and interests.

Kraft Foods told Ad Age in 2014 that its content marketing efforts generated the equivalent of 1.1 billion ad impressions a year and four times as much return on investment. And according to the Content Marketing Institute some major brands are even starting to prioritise content marketing over their paid advertising initiatives.

The case for Content Marketing is certainly building. So with such compelling evidence and the opportunity to build brand awareness, fuel social media, improve SEO rankings and lead generation efforts, why hasn’t every marketing department already incorporated content marketing into its acquisition, retention and growth strategy?

Whether it is content marketing or another initiative, often the biggest barrier to implementation is failure to get executive buy-in. Too often senior stakeholders reject the business case because they feel marketing is trying to sell them something, rather than demonstrate the risks and rewards of a new strategic direction. 

And that’s a fatal flaw. According to Content Marketing Institute founder and author of Epic Content Marketing Joe Pulizzi, without executive engagement it is going to be incredibly difficult to get the right groups involved, get specific tactics approved, get the permission to experiment, learn from mistakes and make essential adjustments that can lead to greater success.

Undoubtedly, it’s in your best interest to build a credible and thoughtful business case for content marketing. It will help build your personal reputation among senior stakeholders, prove your ability at picking attractive investment options over unattractive ones, and demonstrate your marketing department’s commitment to achieving business objectives.

With so much at stake, it’s worth honing your pitch. So take the time to do your homework and cover off the three core components of every successful business case.

1. Understand what Content Marketing can do

There’s no shortage of research that paints content marketing in a flattering light. But avoid the temptation to take those facts and figures and present them directly to senior stakeholders – an approach that often builds skepticism from the start.  

A clear and compelling case should be based on a sound understanding of the core principles and benefits of content marketing matched against where you believe the opportunities lie for your organisation. Use research from secondary sources to underpin your business case rather than lead it. Another good idea is to talk to a Content Marketing agency about the local case studies and best practice.

2. Model what Content Marketing could look like for your business

How could a content marketing approach drive better results from your current digital channels or lead generation efforts? Use your business case to build a model of what you want content marketing to achieve and connect this to business objectives. How would more website traffic from organic search or Social Media contribute to your top-of-the-funnel pipeline? Would it increase the number of sales opportunities? If marketing did early stage nurturing, what would be the impact of better quality leads on sales? How would this contribute to KPIs that senior stakeholders really care about?

3. Test your assumptions with your colleagues and senior stakeholders

Build, test and refine your assumptions with your colleagues and senior stakeholders across sales, operations, customer services and beyond.

Not only will the discovery process hone your thinking and ensure decision makers have an accurate understanding of what content marketing really is, it will also help you to build critical relationships among peers and key influencers before decision time. Before you begin, you’ll already know your business case is believable.

Ultimately a strong business case should be comprehensive and provide the level of detail that shows you’ve done your homework. Importantly, it needs to show how marketing metrics will link to the financial outcomes that senior stakeholders really care about.

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