When you decide to prioritize content marketing, you may envision persuasion will come into play when you start developing content for your sales leads and prospects. But the reality is that you may need all your powers of persuasion to get the rest of your colleagues on board about developing content before you can even start persuading prospects.
The initial steps toward content marketing, essentially making the decision to own your marketing and selecting this strategy, is the easy part in all this. It’s a bit of a no-brainer if you want to control your company’s future. The hard stuff comes with building the habits across your company so that you can see the return on your investment come to life in the form of new opportunities.
So how do you get everyone outside the leadership circle to support content marketing? Why is it not enough to make it clear that sharing relevant, interesting, and valuable thought leadership as “marketing” is really in everyone’s best interest?
Use the examples we’ve run into, time and time again, to help get your own team excited and invested in content marketing. And don’t forget to put yourself in their shoes. Adopting a rigorous content marketing plan was likely a journey for you, one that involved overcoming skepticism and doubt. Your team just needs to go through the same steps. — someone else decided to adopt the grand plan of marketing and now they’re just getting marching orders. They have not been on the same journey that you have in deciding to adopt digital marketing.
Common Arguments Against Content Marketing
“I don’t have enough time to write content. I barely have enough time for client work.”
Even as part of the driving force behind your firm’s decision to take ahold of your future through digital content marketing, this is likely a sentiment you’ve considered for yourself and for your team. And it’s a difficult one to weigh. If everyone is so busy that they can’t set aside time to write, why does it feel like nothing new is coming in? Is everyone working on the wrong client work — the clients who aren’t ideal and who you’d prefer not to work with? The answers to these questions vary for every firm, but whether you need to publish thought leadership to get new leads in your sales pipeline or you’re already stacked and are looking for extra security or new revenue streams, there’s going to come a time when your team has to balance client capacity with marketing capacity. You’ll definitely hear this argument along the way against content marketing, from your team or by that little voice inside your own head.
Content marketing is all about changing your firm’s bigger picture. And that’s hard. Committing to marketing this way means accepting that fact. There’s no secret sauce for making it a breeze to manage internally. That being said, there are ways to set your team up for success. For one, having an intentional strategy is key. Before you ever start writing, know the persona you’re speaking to with your content, the reason your topic matters to your reader, and the top details you definitely want to communicate with your final product. Use this information to build an initial outline so that you don’t feels as if you’re starting from scratch. You can also focus on finding a content development method that plays to everyone’s communication style strengths. If someone is a talker, have them break out the voice memo app or grab a colleague and just give the topic a go. An initial brain dump can be really helpful when someone is suffering from writer’s block or the paralysis caused by the blinking cursor on a blank document.
Think of writing as a muscle — it gets stronger the more you use it. And its progress may even become addictive once you get going. Try an experiment where you block out two hours of your week for one month as uninterrupted content time. Then compare the differences in your experiences between your first week and the fourth.
We strongly urge our clients to find the sweet spot between content that people are actually looking for and content that they’re eager to write. That spot exists where you can share your knowledge and have it be well received without hours of staring at a blank screen or waiting two weeks for your design team to get a PDF or image back to you. It ultimately boils down to getting the right content structure in place, which looks different for every firm we work with and every diverse content development team.
“I don’t like marketing. It feels so slimy.”
To many, content marketing may feel like a sales pitch when they’re first exposed to it or if they aren’t given the tools and resources to understand it fully. This misconception can be really difficult to break, especially if you’re not involving your team in the content development process. In working with our clients, we prefer to have as many team members as possible join our editorial meetings — anyone and everyone who will be part of your content strategy. It’s important for everyone to hear the terminology around your content strategy so that they can feel invested in the process. It’s easy to dislike something you’re unfamiliar with.
Content strategy means sharing your firm’s expertise through thought leadership. The content you publish to your site speaks to the work you do and the knowledge you have. To get the team on board with this strategy, they need to be able to wrap their heads around the idea that they have knowledge that your prospects do not. This may mean sharing educational content about your target industry that addresses your prospects’ questions and pain points — it’s what your team knows about your prospect’s industry that they do not. Or it could be publishing content that provides information about what it’s like to work with you and how that affects your viewers considering your firm as a potential partner.
We understand you’ve got specific business goals you’re trying to accomplish through content marketing. But the key to avoiding that “slimy marketer” feeling is balance. Some content can and should focus on your capabilities as a firm. But much of your content should focus entirely on your prospect’s interest or challenge as they understand it. Be generous with what you know, and your prospects will come to view your content as a vital educational resource instead of a self-serving marketing ploy.
“We don’t need content marketing. We have our portfolio.”
Your team — whether they are creatives or data scientists — may prefer to rely solely on your work to get you business. Why would your site need an insights page and all this content strategy work when you have a portfolio or case studies already? Prepare yourself for this argument because many of your colleagues who feel this way are likely to be the exact team members we want working on developing content for your site. And keep in mind that these individuals may not be quite as focused on your bottom line.
While case studies demonstrating your work are vital to have on your website, just talking about what you’ve done isn’t the ideal way to improve search rankings or nurture prospects at early stages of the buying cycle. A great case study should encourage an interested prospect to get in touch with you, but the rest of your content strategy gets that prospect to your front door in the first place.
“Why can’t I just write what I’m excited about?”
This may be the argument you run into the most if your firm has previously done some content marketing, perhaps by having a blog for a number of years. And it’s important to consider the emotions that this colleague is feeling. In the past, blogging may have felt instinctual. It was, “Oh! I have this idea,” and they wrote it and you published it. This may have been a social event in the office that they were excited to share (any chance your office celebrates National Margarita Day?) or a conference recap that felt at least felt a little more work appropriate to blog about (highlight reel from various sessions and speakers during your team’s three days in Vegas sound familiar to anyone?). Regardless of what your old content was, it likely focused on what you and your team thought was interesting, and you just ran with ideas that came to mind for everyone. You were just happy to have something to publish! And now suddenly your team has a structure placed on them that may feel difficult or restrictive.
Try working with your team to map out your editorial plan with topics that content developers are excited about but that also support the interests of your prospects. Not sure where to start? Ask your team about recent conversations they’ve had with clients lately. What questions are they answering again and again? Or what have they read or heard recently that got their wheels turning? If you start with topics that energize the team — ones that they feel they have the knowledge to develop — then you can work backward from there to make sure you’re speaking to your target audience in the right way and framing your content effectively.
“I don’t know how to write for SEO.”
So you’ve heard all about how content marketing is going to help you generate new opportunities for your business, but you have no idea what it means to write content that is optimized for search engines and neither does your team. Just Google, “How to write for SEO,” right? You’ll receive millions of pages answering your question. Because it’s not a question that only you face — thousands of others are wondering exactly the same thing. Everyone wants to know the secret to not just creating content but creating content that shows up in search results (preferably on the first page or two) and gets new organic visitors to your website. And that can be daunting. As is my honest statement to you, right now, that not everything you write is going to wind up on the first page of Google. So why do it at all?
While organic traffic to your website is important, content marketing is about much more than just search engine optimization. SEO tactics can help get new visitors to the site, but it’s important to remember that content marketing supports your larger business and sales goals beyond the ever-changing algorithms of search engines. Content marketing is about building trust and establishing credibility with all your website visitors (organic or not), being able to attract ideal prospects rather than simply clients who pay the bills, nurturing sales leads across every channel you choose (digital or not), and so much more. So while you may feel as though you need to pander to Google, it’s really about a balance between expressing your expertise in the right way while also talking about what you know your prospects are searching for. To understand that fully for yourself and your team, you may just have to start doing it. Start writing. Start podcasting. Start inviting your viewers in. Evolve from there.
Ultimately, as a leader at your firm, you need to go into this with gumption and be prepared for individuals who aren’t as ready to take on the strategy and habits that make content marketing effectively possible. It’s likely that not everyone will understand content marketing’s value until six months to a year of steady publication. Don’t let skeptics hold you (or themselves) back.
We help clients facing these challenges every day. Get in touch with us if you’d like to talk through your team’s content marketing concerns.