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If you are at Content Marketing World, I hope you’ll join me and the group. We’ll be on the main stage in the Expo Hall. I usually like to live tweet my own talks, but since this is a panel I’m not sure, yet, how that will work out.
Anywho, let’s talk about executive buy-in. Do we need it?
Yes is the simple answer.
Maybe is a possible answer.
No is probably not the right answer. At least it’s the riskiest answer.
Seriously, all kinds of things can get done without executive buy-in – except that executives usually control the budgets and are in charge of who gets to stay on the island and who gets voted off – if you know what I mean.
Let’s look at our options one by one.
No – Content marketing without executive buy-in
It is very likely the hardest way to implement any sustainable content marketing (or any) program. But it is indeed possible to start something new, and eventually successful, without any buy-in at all at the beginning.
Some executives also might be OK with letting things run for a bit without giving any opinion at all. Once they notice that it’s starting to work, they will likely be more than happy to become a vocal advocate.
Some of you might challenge me (which is OK): How is that possible that executives would just let it ride? They are executives.
I can’t answer that question, but I can tell you that I’ve seen it happen a number of times. Perhaps it has to do with that they see potential, but aren’t sure yet, and are willing to gamble a bit-without attaching their explicit buy-in (aka approval).
The biggest problem with not having explicit buy-in is that funding can be harder to come by. Remember, it’s not actually an explicitly endorsed program.
Maybe we need executive buy-in for content marketing
It certainly can set us up for long-failure if we don’t ask for permission and if it doesn’t work. Let’s be honest here, permission is mostly important so it’s not our fault if it doesn’t work.
Sometimes, asking for permission isn’t the way to go. But sometimes it is. I love to give this example of a conversation when I give talks at conferences:
“May I challenge the status quo?”
Sometimes people won’t even give a straight no and just make you feel the no while saying something else.
The maybe comes in because it’s about your comfort level. Are you willing to risk a lot to gain a lot? Or maybe it won’t work and you’ll lose a lot.
I’m willing to risk some things and not others. And it also depends on what the cause is. It might be worth it. Or maybe not so much. Maybe. It’s about personal choice and comfort level.
Yes we need executive buy-in for content marketing
Getting a yes from executives from the start certainly can make things easier. We have cover! Chances are we have (some) funding. They’ve put their support behind it and are advocating the cause to their executive friends. Having the yes from the start makes things a lot easier – at least in theory. Some executives might feel like meddling more since it’s oh-so-new of a project. That can actually set the project back.
Perhaps the biggest item to consider to get executive buy-in is this:
How can content marketing help executives solve their business problems and reach business goals.
So, if an executive isn’t all that worried about brand lift, thought leadership and doesn’t yet see the connection to customer acquisition, it will be very hard to get his or her buy-in.
To get buy-in the project needs to solve one of their problems.
Executive buy-in is super important but even if we don’t have it from the start there are ways to proof value of valuable projects. Some actions are riskier than others. Some of them are worth it. Some aren’t.
Either way, organizations that are setting out to share their authentic stories through content marketing should be recommended. It’s the right thing to do and helps businesses stay or become relevant longer term.
Running a mutually beneficial content marketing program for the organization and its audiences is certainly a great goal, and however we can get there, we should try.