Being a marketer can feel isolating. You spend a lot of time tuning out your surrounding environment, on a tight deadline, and knee deep in research, strategy, writing, and reporting.
Trailblazing is even more daunting, particularly in very large companies. Influencing organizational change is tough. When trying to campaign for a shift in strategy or processes, it’s easy to feel like you’re the only one who cares about the issue.
Many marketers express this sentiment when trying to build a content operation inside their organizations. Professional learning and networking resources—like The Content Marketing Academy—provide outside encouragement, but it’s not always clear who will support you inside your company. While content marketing hiring is a hot topic, most content operations start with the people already in the building.
How to Find Internal Advocates for Your Content Operation by @andrewjcoate
But how do you find internal support? How do you know what and who to look for?
In the eBook, Setting the Stage for Content Marketing, we explain how the buy-in process begins long before engaging the executive level. Imagine yourself as the writer/director of a play, identifying main and supporting characters and understanding their motivations, conflicts, and the environments in which they operate. From there, you’ll start to see how key players interact.
Understanding the varying motivations of different groups within your organization—from marketing to sales to customer service—is no small task. You’ll have to do plenty of interviewing and ask plenty of questions.
To help you focus your efforts, here are four key themes your questions should address.
1. What needs do our buyers have, and how are we not meeting them? What’s stopping us?
This is an essential piece of a strong content marketing operation. Communication has become increasingly buyer-focused. While it’s great to say you understand that, actually implementing this principle is another story.
Ask difficult questions of your colleagues across departments to determine current content gaps. Once those surface, it’s much easier to begin conversations about building a content operation that meets buyer needs.
2. What problems to do internal stakeholders face? Which goals are unmet? Can we help solve their problems and reach those goals with content marketing?
The first question focuses on the unmet needs of your external audience. Often neglected are conversations about unmet internal needs.
One of the best ways to create an internal advocate is to help them reach his/her personal and/or professional goals. If you find that a particular person or department is struggling, take a closer look at how a content operation can help. This might mean creating content that answers FAQs for your customer service team, or content that helps sales get visibility earlier in the buying process.
Regardless of who you talk to in your organization and what their issues are, you should be able to find a way that a unified content operation could provide a boost.
3. What emotions are involved internally? Do organizational politics make it tricky to maneuver?
Sometimes, you have to be careful as you start to build support. Make sure you understand current departments, projects, and processes as they currently exist. This will help you navigate any intense emotions that might be tied to them. Nobody likes to be told they’re falling short, and change is often met with resistance rooted in fear. Knowing the background of a situation helps you frame your conversations to be less scary and more approachable.
4. What does a successful content marketing strategy look like? What are the key goals we need to meet, and how will we know if we achieve them?
This is about preparation. A “Ready, Fire, Aim!” approach doesn’t do anyone any good.
This is about preparation. A “Ready, Fire, Aim!” approach doesn’t do anyone any good. People feel confident when presented with a strong plan. By talking about overall goals and detailing what it takes to reach them, you’ll win support more quickly. This point is extremely key when you’re seeking executive buy-in.
Once you have a better understanding of whose support you need and how to achieve it, you’ll need to think about how to weave new thoughts into your current infrastructure, which I’ll detail in my next post.