A bigger content marketing budget comes down to one question

content marekting budget
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Make the boss happy or make customers successful: That’s the difficult choice content marketers may have to make if they want a bigger budget, according to Michael Brenner.

The principal of the Marketing Insider Group, Brenner addressed an issue that will likely face many of those attending Content Marketing World in Cleveland this week when they return to their offices. Whereas content marketers are already “converts” to what storytelling can do to generate demand or convert prospects into sales leads, getting buy-in and budget from other parts of the organization is not getting any easier.

“The CEO wants a new logo, not digital transformation,” Brenner said, adding there are similar challenges in talking up content marketing to those in sales. “They ask for a brochure and a bigger booth for an event and some pens. And stress balls. Everybody loves stress balls.”

Even using stats — such as the fact that 62% of inbound leads are cheaper than those obtained by other means — could lead executives to cut marketers’ budgets rather than give them more resources, Brenner said.

“We get content marketing buy-in by simply beating our teams into submission,” he said. “We hear content marketing is a commitment, not a campaign . . . but it’s actually a culture focused on customers.”

Of course, many companies put the notion of having customers at the centre of what they do in their mission statements — including firms like United Airlines and Wells Fargo  that have recently endured public relations disasters. Brenner suggested the only way to really transform the way a company thinks and asks is to ask a critical question every time an initiative is proposed: What’s in it for the customer?

Consulting firm CapGemini, for instance, was once considering the notion of following in the footsteps of rivals like Accenture to sponsor golf player sand tournaments, Brenner said. However a marketer in the organization convinced the organization to use .01 per cent of what such sponsorship would have cost to create a content marketing program that lead to one million visitors to its web site and one million in sales. After doubling that budget to create a LinkedIn module connecting LinkedIn users to CapGemini experts, the same marketer helped generate $24 million in sales, Brenner said.

Similarly, Brenner recommended marketers look for opportunities to bring content marketing as a solution to the challenges of other departments. This was a lesson he said he learned first-hand during a stint in digital marketing at SAP. At the time, he said, most of the traffic to the company’s web site came through searches for the word “SAP.” Only by showing the sales team, which was trying to sell a cloud computing product, that its competitors were ranking higher in Google results was he able to launch a content strategy to improve SAP’s SEO.

“When we ask what’s in it for our customers, we end up answering what’s in it for our colleagues as well. We tap into their passions and their expertise,” he said.

Content Marketing World continues through Friday.

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Shane Schick

Shane Schick

Shane Schick is the Editor-in-Chief of B2B News Network. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and was the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.