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Hunting Hippos: Winning Approval from C-Level for Content Marketing

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Hunting Hippos: Winning Approval from C-Level for Content Marketing

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All of the buzz and opportunity surrounding content marketing may have you excited about what you can achieve for your business. But how do you sell your new ideas and strategies to the boss back at the office? Stop looking at gold star content strategies, thinking "They'll never let me do anything as cool as this." You might be surprised what you can achieve if you approach your "HIPPO" in the right way.

All of the buzz and opportunity surrounding content marketing may have you excited about what you can achieve for your business. But how do you sell your new ideas and strategies to the boss back at the office? Stop looking at gold star content strategies, thinking "They'll never let me do anything as cool as this." You might be surprised what you can achieve if you approach your "HIPPO" in the right way.

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Hunting Hippos: Winning Approval from C-Level for Content Marketing

  1. 1. #cmworld HUNTING HIPPOS: Winning approval from C-level for content marketing Jonathan Crossfield Storyteller • @kimota
  2. 2. #cmworld JYSKE BANK
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Notes de l'éditeur

  • So how was the conference? 2 days packed with information and inspiration, right?
    Well, this session is about what comes next. What happens when you get back to the office tomorrow?
    Cause someone, probably the boss, is going to ask you about it, and you’ll say, “It was fantastic. So much great information and amazing case studies”
    And then what? What actions will you implement? What will you actively change when you get back to your office?


  • The idea for this presentation came from the discussions I’ve had when running workshops and speaking at events around the country, particularly in response to this case study.
    So before we get stuck into the question of “then what” let’s raise the bar a little
    This is a video outlining the content marketing strategy for Jyske Bank, a Danish bank with what I consider the gold standard in content marketing strategies.
  • Fantastic, isn’t it? Don’t we all dream we could have a content marketing engine like that?
    They’ve got their own TV studio for cripes sake!
    Jyskebank.tv launched on 1st October 2008 and in 2011 launched an English language version as well
    There are daily live programs as well as ten ongoing series
    It won the "Best web TV" category in the European Digital Communication Awards in 2011, for which this video formed part of their submission 
    The chap with the beard I envy is Brian Woodward. It’s worth noting that he isn’t a marketer. He’s a journalist, writer and content producer – and that is very important in keeping the balance in their content. This isn’t a wall-to-wall sales pitch but a source of content so huge and so useful that it’s a magnet for potential customers and investors in Denmark.
  • Whenever I show this video and discuss Jyske Bank, I always get the same reaction
    Wow, they must have a ridiculous budget. We could never do that. Our boss would laugh at us if we asked him for a TV studio
    It’s just not a relevant example
    But let me ask – are there any banks or financial institutions in the room?
    Jyske bank was probably no different in size to you when they started with content marketing
    Before Jyske Bank tv started, they were ranked the #5 bank in consideration in Denmark. So they certainly weren’t the biggest or leading bank at the time
    But today, they’re the #1 bank in consideration in Denmark.
    So how do you convince the boss? How do you start something that can become as impressive as that?
  • The name of this presentation came from an article I wrote for the magazine and website a couple of years ago.
    We need to hunt the hippo if we’re to get our content strategies approved.
    Who knows what I mean when I talk about the hippo?
  • Highest paid Person’s Opinion
    This is what many of us come up against in our heirarchical businesses
    Decisions always seem to defer to the person at the big end of the table, the CEO, the managing director or whoever is the most senior person in the room
    But that person is often not as qualified to make the decision as other people in the room. The marketing manager you would hope would be more experienced and knowledgeable about marketing, but that doesn’t mean anything if he or she can’t persuade the Hippo
    The hippo doesn’t approve decisions based purely on trust or deferring to our better judgment, much as we would love it to be true. They need careful handling and plenty of persuasion to get the decision you want.
    So these are the lessons I’ve learned on more than a few Hippo safaris. Not all of them were successful – sometimes I had to pick myself up out of the dirt and tend to my large hippo footprint-sized
    bruises on my back
    But here is what I’ve learned along the way to help you bag your own hippo when you return to the office
  • Rule one is always to approach the hippo slowly and cautiously
    The hippo is easily spooked by too much information rushing them at once
    And you don’t want them to adopt a defensive posture
  • Let’s return to the Jyske Bank example.
    If you look at the case study and the stats that show how much higher their results are than yours, it’s easy to be intimidated by their success.
    They’re all the way up there and we’re all the way down here
  • It’s like expecting us to be able to leap a cliff in a single bound
    We just could never do what they’ve done
    But of course not. You need to remember that they didn’t jump the cliff either
  • Behind the cliff is a gentle climb over a long period of time
    Go back far enough and Jyske Bank was probably no higher than many of you
    But instead of following the same path that stayed on the same level, they started along a different path that took them gradually higher and higher.
    And it doesn’t end at a cliff either. They’re not about to fall off and end up back down on the beach with us. Their path will continue to go higher and higher
  • Jyske Bank TV may have started in 2008, but that wasn’t their first content marketing strategy.
    They had been doing content marketing for decades. The Jyske Bank Gazette was a monthly magazine that goes back as far as the 1980s
    It was a solid strategy – many brands publish magazines – and it started their climb
    Digital comes along and they started experimenting with online content – blogs, downloadable articles and so on
    By 2008, Jyske Bank had already experimented with video content, in partnership with Arkena who helped host their videos for embedding on the Jyske Bank website and on YouTube etc.
    So when they decided to launch an entire web tv channel, it was because they had already come to the conclusion that online video was a more effective form of marketing
    The magazine was closed down and the budget transferred over to help fund the new channel
    When someone in Jyske Bank pitched to the bosses that they needed a TV studio, it wasn’t because it was the most ambitious thing they could think of, it was because having their own TV studio made more economical sense that outsourcing all of their video production. They reached a tipping point where Jyske Bank tv offered them a better return on the investment based on proven results, not a huge gamble
    Today Jyske Bank TV is as much a part of the business model as the bank itself. It’s no onger a mareting strategy. It’s interwoven and inseparable from the business of the bank.
  • So don’t scare off your hippo with a ludicrously ambitious proposal straight off the bat.
    Resist the temptation to submit your 300 word strategy document that tries to sell your ideal gold standard strategy in one bite

  • You need to take one step at a time. You need to start down the right path, slowly and surely, not leap to the top of the cliff – because you’ll fail if you try to get there that way
    The bigger the business, the slower they are to move
    Every business I’ve worked for has claimed that they are agile, they move fast, react quickly and are decisive.
    This is never, ever true!
    In fact, most businesses are more like the Titanic. They take a looooooong time to turn so if you want to avoid icebergs, you have to start turning a lot earlier, slowly, one degree at a time
    There’s that old joke about about an elephant and it applies very much to hippos as well
    “How do you eat a hippo? One bite at a time.
  • There are many weapons at the content marketer’s disposal, but picking the right one is vital if you want to bag your hippo
    No good going after a hippo with a pen knife when you really need an elephant gun
    And it’s no good going after your hippo with a Facebook strategy when the best weapon would be a blog
  • A hippo is not looking for new distraction. They want solutions to problems they care about
    Otherwise your strategy becomes an answer to a question no one asked – and that’s the quickest way to be ignored. Or worse, seen as a waste of time.
    So understanding what their current hop-button topics or areas of concern are can help you introduce appropriate content ideas
    Having problems with customer churn? Maybe the right content in an email newsletter can help keep customers using your service or cross selling products
    Need more website traffic? Suggest a blog or social media strategy, and so on.
    You may have bigger plans and know how these various content tactics link together into a bigger joined up strategy, but at this stage that’s not the problem
  • But beware of solving the wrong problem, just to get approval for your strategy.
    Many years ago, I was extremely keen to get a blog on our company website. Our competitors weren’t doing it yet, I’d had great success with blogs elsewhere, a blog made sense.
    But they kept knocking it back. It was unnecessary. It was a drain on resources with no clear outcome that mattered to them
    So I made a terrible mistake. I told them that a blog was a great way to boost SEO results.
    I know SEO was the magic word in the company back then. They were obsessed with trying to find new ways to dominate Google. So I knew that would get their attention.
    And it did. Blog approved.
    Except now it wasn’t a content marketing strategy. It was an SEO tactic. My bosses didn’t care about any of the results I cared about – increasing subscribers, loads of comments, people sharing our content around the web. The only KPI they cared about wa how it impacted certain keyword results.
    “Which keywords did you target this week” was the usual question. Not what topic areas did you cover or what problems did you solve for the customer. The quality of the content didn’t matter nearly as much as whether Google was rewarding us with more traffic.
    And that meant that after a short while I had to fight long and hard to maintain the writing quality of the blog as they pushed for me to outsource the posts to an overseas company for $10 a post. Who cared whether it was poor quality if the company could boost their SEO for less money than they were paying me to write those posts?
  • Plus also make sure your strategy is the best tool for the job.
    Yes you want them to pick your content strategy, but don’t do it at the expense of potentially better strategies
    Just because you want to launch a social media strategy with a Facebook page doesn’t make it a better solution to the problem of boosting web traffic than getting someone to fix the SEO problems in the existing website
    And don’t pitch a Facebook page when a LinkedIn Group might work better – just because you are more familiar with Facebook
    This isn’t about sticking within yur comfort zone either. You need to find the best approach, not merely your favourite one.
  • Pilot programs can be a great way of testing the waters and proving the wisdom of your ideas.
    Suggest a simple trial and set parameters around what results you hope to achieve – so that expectations are set accordingly
    But be realistic. Most content marketing strategies take time to deliver results. A blogging trial for one month isn’t going to show anything. Give it at least six months or more
  • Rule Three is to aim at the right target
    You may have the right weapon, but if you only shoot the hippo in the toe, it will still trample you to death
    Where is their most vulnerable target? What will eliminate all doubt about your strategy?
  • Which means we’re talking about metrics
    Which numbers will convince the hippo beyond all doubt
    I’m a big one for insisting that KPIs are tied to business outcomes. It’s all right for marketers to have a bunch of other metrics to help contribute to the main goal, but which metrics are the silver bullets that will cut through any hippo’s hard exterior?
  • I’ll give you a hint – brand awareness isn’t one of them
    When I first joined the marketing industry many years ago, I quickly had the notion of brand awareness beaten out of me by my boss
    But marketers love the idea of brand awareness because it sounds good, while justifying the cherry-picking of whatever tenuous metrics they want
    Brand awareness is necessary. But it’s only the very, very beginning of the story.
  • Forrester put out this stat in 2012. They reported that 65% of … etc

    Awareness may get people into the top of the funnel. But what fuels the research phase? So what if you’ve got thousands of likes on your Facebook page? How are you going to move them down the sales funnel to nurture that 65% into genuine leads or sales?
  • Your content strategy is that nurturing process
    It moves people from awareness to research to a decision to action
    Then, brand awareness isn’t a metric any more. Why measure awareness at the very top of the funnel?
    You can prove the effectiveness of your awareness strategies by showing increasing numbers at every other stage of the funnel – stages that actually generate outcomes for the business
  • Joe covered this report yesterday, but this is from the CMI’s benchmark report on Australian content marketing
    It reports that 79& of Aussie marketers claim brand awareness as a primary organisational goal
    Engagement is next. Lead generation comes in a sad third
    Even scarier still, sales and lead nurturing are right down the bottom
    Have you ever worked in a business where sales and managing leads are the lowest priorities for the business?
    Is it any wonder marketers are often not taken seriously by the C-suite?
  • It gets worse when we see what marketers are actually measuring.
    Only 33% were actually measuring the benchmark lift of company awareness and even fewer were measuring the benchmark lift of product or service awareness
    Website traffic and social media sharing were the most popular metrics, but do they prove an increase in brand awareness? Not really.
  • So it’s not surprising most marketers are struggling to prove the effectiveness of their content
    51% didn’t know whether their content marketing was effective or not – couldn’t decide one way or the other.
    But if you’re not measuring the metrics relevant to your key goals, how can you prove whether you;ve beene ffective?
    An organisational goal that isn’t matched by a specific and conclusive metric to measure whether it succeeds or fails is not a goal. It’s just a series of assumptions and guesses in the hope there will be some benefit somewhere down the track
    Except if and when that benefit happens, you won’t necessarily know why or how it was achieved because you were measuring the wrong things
  • So instead of trying to convince the boss that the number of Facebook ‘likes’ for your business page should be a KPI, decide what that actually means for the business
    How do all those likes benefit your strategy? What happens next? What will building that social media audience allow you to achieve?
    And then measure that outcome instead. If that outcome works, then you know the first one did.
  • So stop selecting the metrics that are easiest to achieve or that your dashboard offers you
    Work out what metrics really matter to your C-suite and find ways of linking your strategy to those.
    If they only care about leads or sales, yu need to join the dots and present them with a KPI or set of KPIs that does just that.
  • Rule four is to keep an eye out for other predators on the savannah
    You aren’t the only hunter out there. There are many other. And knowing where they are can help you immensely
  • Which means I’m talking about competitor analysis, convincing the boss by showing them what is happening elsewhere
    Case studies, best practice guides, current trends and stats – these can be highly influential on the right hippo
    However, to get really simplictic for a moment, there are two types of hippo in my experience
  • The first wants proof and lots of it. They move when everyone else is already moving
    Once a trend goes mainstream, then they want to adopt the tactic as a matter of urgency. They wait for the tipping point
    So our competitors all have a blog? We should have a blog.
    They’re goal is to keep up with the pack. The fear is being left behind. The right competitor analysis can help you here.
  • The other type of hippo is all about getting out in front
    It’s first mover advantage. It’s seeing the opportunity in being an early adopter
    That means experimenting with new things and quickly moving on if they don’t generate results to the next new thing
    To these guys, it’s more persuasive to show ways of doing better than everyone else, not just catching up
    Maybe your industry is pretty lack lustre with online video. Instead of accepting that as the standard, maybe find a way of being completely fresh and new with online video, so that your YouTube channel is the only one people in your industry want to watch
  • Remember this?
    Isn’t that exactly what Jyske bank did?
  • The only difference between Jyske Bank and any other bank – cause any bank – in fact most businesses – can start out with online video
    The only difference is that Jyske Bank started first and kept going, increasing their lead over time
    By the time they’ve proven the effectiveness of the tactic, it’s too late for anyone else to catch up. For everyone else, it’s now only ever a race for second place. First is just too far out in front.
  • So this is about planning for the long term and getting off the hamster wheel of short term reporting, short term campaigns and constantly trying to maintain the same level of activity
    Because I come across a lot of businesses now that are terrified of this first mover advantage. They don’t want to be like the other Denmark banks
    The finance and banking industry is scrambling over themselves to get out in front right now. I’ve run workshops inside one of the banks where I was introduced by the marketing director with the statement that if they don’t start changing their marketing model right now, today, and building long term evergreen content instead of disposable campaign content with an expiry date, then in a year or two it will be too late
    So maybe the most persuasive argument you can make is that. Digital marketing is changing. Google has changed. Penguin and Panda have made it harder for the old simple short term tactics to work any more. Social media has changed the landscape, placing consumers in greater control over the discovery and research process
    If you’re slow to change with these trends, it will be too late when the changes really bite and your competitors get their first
  • And finally, the fifth rule
    You need to ensure the terrain between you and the hippo is free of obstacles and potential hazards.
    Last thing you want is to trip up over a pesky internal process or obvious objection just as you’re closing in for the kill
  • Firstly, that old chestnut of who’s going to write all this content
    Yes, there is an expense here. But there are different ways of achieving great results
    Obviously there are external agencies with massive bullpens of writers capable of writing on a variety of topics
    However, I highly recommend paying a little more for journalists rather than professional bloggers. Yes there is a difference
    Plus you need subject matter experts if your content is to be valuable and exclusive to you. Why produce content that was researched by Googling every other branded blog post on the same topic? That’s not going to give you any advantage
    Instead, even though they may not be writers, try to source content from your team
    Netregistry story
  • This is a common roadblock people complain to me about. The legal department will make it impossible for us
    They want everything three weeks in advance to be approved by four layers of management before you can send out a tweet, etc
    But legal departments are often far more flexible than you think. If you explain that that won’t actually work, you’ll find theyre not so black and white after all,
    They job is to find the safest and most appropriate way to carry our company business. So they will always start from a position of maximum protection and regulation
    Negotiate with them. Agree upon autonomous guidelines in advance
    Educate them on how these things work. You’ll find most of them base their decisions on very little to no experience of these channels
    I did have one legal department come down hard insisting that we could not allow our staff no any of our customers to share links to other websites in our LinkedIn group because they thought it was a breach of copyright. They though sharing a link was copyright. So educate them
    Their role is actually to enable the business to do what it needs to do, but in the safest way, that’s all
  • Often everyone wants to have input into a new strategy. Even into every piece of content o=r communication that goes out
    Resist this, strongly
    Only those with direct lines of authority should be involved. Some managers or other departments may need to be made aware of certain pieces of content etc, but you need to be clear that it is about making sure your facts are correct or ensuring staff are aware of the messaging going out – not an invitation for feedback , criticism or changes they insist must be made
    Too amy stakeholders will mean your content is never able to get out on a reasonable schedule
    A good idea is to also stipulate a deadline for responses or approval. If they don’t respond by X date, it will be deemed that approval was given. Cause you don’t want your strategy held up because someone hasn’t got through their in tray for three weeks

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