I was thinking recently about the disconnect that exists between content marketers and a significant percentage of executive level decision makers within some organizations. Although the importance of developing a solid content strategy and the high potential for return on your investment have been embraced by many, there are still a large number of executives on whom the concept is lost.

Initially I was a bit frustrated and kept thinking, “Why don’t they get it? It’s such a simple concept.”  But, as I mulled it over in my head, the answer began to come into focus. Maybe it isn’t them. Maybe the problem is with the way content marketers explain content marketing.

Countless times I have witnessed content marketers (very talented content marketers) stumble and slur their words when asked to explain content marketing to someone who is unfamiliar with the concept. After a few “ums” and scratches of the chin, they usually come up with something very dumbed down like “We create, articles, blogs, and other types of content that make your website more appealing.”

That statement is true, but it is fundamentally flawed. I don’t think that it has anything to do with either side really being wrong. The problem, rather, is the disconnect between the person that deals in content and the person that deals in dollars and cents.

Sometimes we tend to assume that because someone is unfamiliar with a concept, the best way to teach them is to strip away all of the complicated parts. Watch how fast the average CEO’s eyes will glaze over when you start Disconnect between content marketing and executivestalking about having a blog on your site, or the importance of having a following on social media. That isn’t the world they live in, and to them blogging is a way for angry teenagers to vent their angst toward the world.

Or we get too complicated and start tossing around terms like search engine optimization, keywords, site traffic, link building, social media listening and so on. You know these words. The ones we all like to toss around, so people know that we get it. It’s completely true, we do get it, and we rock because of that, but guess what?  That executive you are talking to may be nodding her head in agreement, but she is really thinking about what she is having for lunch, or about putting together that pro forma when she gets back to the office.

There is clear and present value in content marketing and strategy. But in order to get our point across, we have to realize that we need to target our explanations to the right audience.  If you are talking to someone who focuses on the bottom line, then make sure you point out how content marketing can help them get there.

Here are a few tips to get you moving toward a more productive conversation:

Start with Strategy

Any businessperson worth his or her weight can appreciate a good strategy. Instead of leading with the services you offer, talk about how you’ll conduct a thorough audit of their website and social media channels and present them with an effective strategy that will help them achieve their stated objectives and goals. Now you’ve got their ear.

Sprinkle in Some Lead Generation

In the B2B sphere, one of the main objectives of any company’s website is to generate leads (for B2C it’s increased sales.) Explain to them how, by implementing the strategy that you develop, they will effectively be able to increase the number of qualified inbound leads from both their website and social media. More qualified leads? Lunch can wait. That feigned interest just took a turn toward intrigue.

Get Competitive

Strategy and competition
Talk about strategy and competition.

Now it’s time to let them know what the competition is doing. If you haven’t gotten their attention yet, just mention once that the competition is winning. No, not winning like Charlie Sheen. That guy is clearly losing. Present them with numbers showing how some of the companies that they compete most fiercely against are blowing them out of the water in various categories. Then bring it back around to the strategy and show them how they can easily make up that ground and even surpass that pesky competition.

Once you’ve laid the groundwork, there is still plenty to do. But at least now the previously uninterested executive is headed back to the office with your business card in hand and a flame of curiosity lit in their mind. The more conversations like this that are started, the easier it becomes to explain content marketing the next time you are asked to define it.

Anthony Gaenzle – Director of Marketing

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