Who doesn't love a good story? They are ingrained into the essence of who we are as humans. Some 300,000 years ago our earliest ancestors had to share stories to survive: Food, shelter, predators... without the story, how could they have ever learned about any of them?
Then why is it so hard to get buy-in for content marketing?
If your client, CMO, or manager views content not so much as king but as bastard prince, it's time to go to battle, breach some preconceived barrier walls, and prove content's prowess.
These eight tactical measures, inspired by the Trojan Horse of Greek mythology, will help you do all that—and help content reign.
1. Know the strength of your army
Before you can deploy content, you need an able team and you need to train it well. Send sales off on a quest with the wrong weaponry, and you're sure to lose. But convince your own sales team about the benefits of content marketing, and they'll be better equipped to conquer.
If your company has always leaned on traditional or paid digital media, you'll need to educate and adapt—or die. Content is king. All other marketing techniques bow before him.
2. Have a strategy
Who goes into battle without a plan? Set up goals on how to break through barriers to get your content message through to the right people. Recognize that they may not be at the top of the food chain. Look for internal allies who are people of action and then do some reconnaissance. You want a strong partner who will see the merit of your motives and help you follow through. And it's not enough to plan for the first foray. You need a long-term strategy to win the war.
3. Build it for them, not you
Odysseus could have left an adorable deer or colossal goat at the gates of Troy, but instead he shot a bullseye into the heart of Trojan culture with his horse: The animals weren't merely majestic in stature; Troy was famous for its horse-breeding prowess.
A staggering amount of content is produced and consumed every day. If you expect to stand out, you need to create content that matches perfectly to your client's needs. Generic content doesn't just get ignored; it gets stopped cold at the gate.
4. Create impressive quality
The Trojan Horse wasn't merely massive; it was massively impressive. Made from the best materials by the finest craftsman in the land, it had the wow factor. Do your marketing materials? If you want content to work, it has to be informative, useful and fun. Consistently create quality branded content so users come to expect nothing but the best from you.
If you expect to open doors in a B2B pitch, you need to provide something of value that a client will feel is worthwhile.
5. Present it as a gift
Wait, make it free? Yes, free. And useful. Your prospects are bombarded by content from the likes of you every day. As soon as they catch a whiff of stale sales pitch, the gates close and the drawbridge goes up. But if the gifts you bear are relevant to them in a way that is both bedazzling and beguiling, how can they resist? Whet their appetite with a taste of what you can do that will make them crave for more. An early gift can pique their interest and lead inexorably to sales.
6. Show, don't tell
You've probably heard the expression a hundred times. Don't tell them what you're going to do. Show them. One of the most compelling examples of instinctual marketing savvy belongs to billionaire Sara Blakely. Sensing she was fast losing her audience in an early Spanx pitch to a buyer for Neiman Marcus, she dragged the woman to the ladies room where she could show, rather than tell. Super success.
If you want to prove content works, you'll need to show how. If you can't do it immediately for that would-be client, provide real examples of your company's past successes.
7. Combine forces
Did you know that much of B2B content never gets used? Anecdotally, we see this all the time with our higher-education clients at ESM Digital. They have tons of research, peer-reviewed articles, whitepapers, audio, video, blog posts, art and design, created by professors, faculty, students, and alumni. But they don't use it. Or they use it only minimally. They don't repurpose or promote.
What if your pitch to that prospective client for content was truly all about them... because the content was already theirs?
8. Measure the metrics
Even if it's only a single skirmish, measure the results. Wars aren't won on a single battlefield, but across days and nights of relentless campaigns. If you can prove results with actual data... well, that's a winning strategy that few will deny.
You can use content marketing to get inside to deliver a winning sales pitch. Once they've opened the gates, it's up to you to claim the kingdom.
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