Content marketing is a crucial pillar to building your brand’s success online, enabling you to connect with your customers with purpose-driven messaging and create an online presence. If you work in digital marketing, you’re probably already aware of the countless benefits of content marketing, but it’s not you that we need to convince. One of the biggest challenges when it comes to implementing an effective content strategy is getting executive buy-in, especially when you work in a larger organisation.
You may already know a little bit, or a lot, about content marketing, or maybe it’s an entirely new venture for your brand. Either way, if you’re still reading, you are likely to be looking to build a solid business case for content marketing. This will help you persuade senior management to get on board with your content aspirations and see the true value of a well-executed content marketing strategy.
Whatever your situation, it is important to plan your pitch carefully, outlining the benefits content marketing can bring to your business specifically, and how you intend to roll out content operations. We’ve simplified the key elements of a compelling business case for content marketing to help you provide your board with a pitch that no one could refuse.
What’s in this article?
Although this may be self-explanatory for many of you, a business case refers to the description of the reasons behind a project proposal and its justification. This includes business benefits, costs and risks. A business case will be assessed by decision-makers, who will either approve or reject the case, or provide amends. Business cases are important since they provide evidence-based reasoning behind your proposal and make for transparent decision-making.
Having a well-defined and comprehensive business case can increase the likelihood of your project being successful. A business case provides a clear and concise explanation of why the project is necessary, the benefits it will deliver, and how it aligns with the overall strategy and goals of the organisation. Pitching a business case can also help stakeholders understand the scope and objectives of the project, as well as the risks and challenges that may arise. It helps to identify the resources, budget, and timelines needed to execute the project successfully too. A business case can also serve as a reference point throughout the project’s lifecycle, helping to ensure that the project stays on track and that any deviations or changes are properly assessed and managed.
We would argue that almost every brand can benefit from content marketing. In today’s digital age, consumers have access to more information than ever before, and it’s your duty to ensure your brand is part of this. You need to gain your share of voice, get your brand seen, and build relationships with your audiences if you want to stand out among your competitors and pave the way to long-term success.
There are numerous benefits to content marketing that are invaluable to a business. For one, content marketing is an effective way of establishing brand awareness by creating high-quality and informative content that speaks to your target audience. In turn, this builds brand trust and credibility with these audiences, establishing your brand as a thought leader in your industry, which can lead to increased customer loyalty and retention.
Content is also an effective tool to drive traffic and engagement on your website and social media channels, keeping your audience engaged and up-to-date with your latest products or services. It can also help you generate leads and sales by providing helpful information about your product or service offering, or through the trust and credibility you have built. Did you know that B2C buyers read an average of 3-5 pieces of content before making a purchase? And a B2B buyer reads even more, averaging at 11.4 pieces of content before a purchase? Not to mention, 62% of B2B buyers rely on practical content, like case studies and webinars, to inform their buying decisions.
In comparison to other marketing channels, content marketing is a cost-effective strategy with long-lasting results, which can produce a significant return on investment. Content Marketing Institute reports that content marketing has the potential to generate three times more leads than traditional marketing tactics and costs approximately 62% less!
Putting your content proposition into a business case will help you build a credible reputation with senior stakeholders and give you more input as to what your department can do. Without executive buy-in, you will struggle to get the right people involved in your projects, get budget sign-offs, exercise full creative freedom, earn permission to experiment with ideas, or make significant changes to your marketing strategy.
Building a business case will look different for each company, but there are a few general rules to follow when putting a case together. Here are the essentials to include when building a business case:
An executive summary should contain a brief overview of the entire business case, highlighting the key points you cover and the main purpose of the document. You can also use this as an opportunity to include a bulleted list of the main takeaways from each section (as listed below).
You should then provide an introduction to why you’re bringing this topic to the table, and set the scene for decision-makers. Here, you should present the business problem at hand and the proposed solution, providing any necessary background information or context needed to understand the issue.
You’ll need to carry out research to find out where your business currently stands in relation to the issue you are facing. Demonstrating the gap between your current situation and the desired state you would like to get to will help you show execs that there is a need for your proposed solution.
Next, it is important to provide clear and measurable business objectives that your proposed solution aims to achieve. These should align with your overall business goals and be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound). Without defining your objectives, you will not know what you are trying to achieve and will not have the right success measures in place.
Offering a detailed analysis of various potential solutions to your issue will show decision-makers that you have done your research and know what you are talking about. We recommend that you provide a few potential solutions, including their benefits and drawbacks, covering financial, technical and organisational feasibility.
After analysing the potential solutions, you will need to choose the best one and communicate why this one suits the business best. You’ll need to provide your rationale for selecting this option, which, again, considers the feasibility of actually implementing this solution.
Within this, you will be required to provide a cost-benefit analysis, which should include a breakdown of the costs of the recommended solution. Include things like hardware, software, staff and training, in addition to cost benefits, such as revenue and improved efficiency.
There are multiple elements to consider when defining how your solution will be implemented. You will need to outline the resources you will require outside of your own means for operations to run smoothly. This could include additional time, budget, staff, tools, training etc. Key milestones and deliverable deadlines will also need to be forecasted to ensure everyone has a clear understanding of how long implementation will take – as time costs money!
As you would expect, the conclusion of your business case should include a summary of all points above, and really hone in on the benefits of your proposed solution.
Finally, it can be useful to include an appendices containing any supporting materials, such as data analysis, market research, case studies and the like.
So, you have the basics to building a business case, but how does this translate to content marketing?
Your executive summary is arguably the most important part of your business case. The one thing business leaders lack is time. In many instances, decision-makers have limited time and will only read your executive summary, before deciding whether your plan is worth pursuing or not. Make sure to highlight your proposal’s main takeaways in a bulleted list and make a good first impression.
Stakeholders can often be spooked by content marketing, particularly because it is a long-term investment. As such, it’s vital to communicate exactly what value it will bring to your business and address the opportunities available. You need to demonstrate that your proposal is well worth the consideration!
In your introduction, you will need to set the scene for decision-makers and provide some context as to why you are pitching content marketing. You may want to touch upon the increasing competition in your market, increased demand for content, and current content trends. In fact, content usage has increased by an incredible 207% since the pandemic!
When carrying out situational analysis for content marketing, strategic context is key. You will need to provide the rationale behind the project. Perhaps, there was an immediate trigger behind your decision to propose content marketing to your board? This could be a new product launch for your brand, a ranking drop caused by a Google algorithm update, a new audience segment or a new competitor on the market.
At this stage, telling the board what’s going on will not be enough. You need to support your analysis with data. This may mean conducting in-depth competitor analysis, audience intelligence, auditing your own site or looking at your social media performance. Consider drawing upon examples from a leading competitor brand to demonstrate what you are aiming to achieve, or pinpoint what is currently missing from your own brand and stands in your way of getting there. For example, your competitors may have already built a successful TikTok presence with high levels of engagement and a large follower community, but your brand may not even have a TikTok account. No matter what the scenario, make sure to present the disparity between your current and desired state.
When it comes to convincing the board to sign off on your plans, it typically comes down to money. Many stakeholders will be concerned with costs and ROI, over any other benefits. Content success is usually understood as being synonymous with financial gains, but it’s crucial to educate and explain the value of content marketing beyond monetary measures. Content is a long game that will eventually lead to increased revenue and high ROI, however, it can offer so much more than that in the meantime.
One example would be organic rankings. Publishing consistent, high-quality content has a direct impact on your rankings in Google’s search results pages (SERPs), which has a positive impact on the flow of traffic to your site and builds brand awareness. A SMART goal for increasing organic rankings could look something like this:
S – We want to increase the number of relevant keywords ranking in positions 1-3.
M – We aim to increase the keywords ranking by 10%, from X to Z
A – We already attract X monthly visitors and our strategy supports our goal to build on this.
R – Increasing site traffic will have a positive impact on our other marketing efforts and wider business goals, specifically sales.
T – We have until next year to achieve this goal, and will have quarterly check-ins to track progress.
Additional content success measures include website traffic, time on site, email open rates, follower gains, backlinks and downloads to name a few! See below for more.
Do you need more help showcasing the value of your content marketing to your board? Read our guide to the ROI of content.
Next up is defining what solutions are available to help you overcome the issue you are facing, and support your end goal. How you choose to go about this section will depend on how well you understand content marketing.
Firstly, if you do not have much knowledge in the space, you may have only got as far as identifying you have a problem that content can fix. This is perfectly fine! However, it means the options you should assess at this point are not the content strategies you should implement, but the support you require. For instance, do you need to hire an in-house content specialist to reboot your strategy? A team of external freelancers to take on some workload? Or an expert digital marketing agency for both?
On the other hand, you may already have a good idea of what is required to meet your objectives. For example, an SEO blog strategy, an eBook series, a podcast or a TikTok strategy – but this will depend on what you’re trying to achieve, of course. You’ll need to provide the pros and cons of each.
The benefits of an SEO blog strategy include improving online visibility and rankings in the SERPs. In fact, approximately 70% of all online experiences begin with a search engine, and with 86% of marketers using blogging as part of their marketing strategy, it would be a missed opportunity.
A carefully curated blog strategy is also an effective tool for increasing website traffic, educating your target audience, building customer engagement, and nurturing leads through the sales funnel. These benefits will feed into generating more leads and sales.
The potential drawbacks would be the need for SEO expertise and tools for keyword research and gap analysis, as well as the volume of content needed to see results, which may require additional budget, time and training.
The above is just an overview and for your business case, you’ll need to provide the finer details, outlining the costs and resources for implementation, and forecasting the potential gains with supporting data.
After carrying out your options analysis, we recommend choosing the one solution that you believe will work best for your business, and explain why this solution is better than the others. If necessary, you may go with a handful of options – just make sure you explain your justification for this decision.
For example, if your organisation has a small marketing team with limited resources and a lack of content marketing expertise, you may opt for an agency as your solutions provider. When pitching a new partnership with an agency to your board of directors, you’ll need to provide your rationale behind this choice. In this case, you can highlight the realistic capacity of your current team and the need for additional resources, as well as the lack of in-house knowledge and the benefit of getting the experts involved. You may also want to emphasise the time-savings of outsourcing content support, the industry-leading tools you’ll access, and the scalability of your content outputs.
Presenting a business case is all about risk and reward. As such, a cost-benefit analysis will also be vital at this step. A cost-benefit analysis will help the board determine whether your solutions make sense from a business perspective. With 91% of marketers reporting achieving success with their content marketing strategies, it is clear that content poses little risk, but that’s not to say it doesn’t have its costs.
You’ll need to write a list of all the projected costs and another list of financial gains. This should include direct costs, like agency fees, and direct gains, such as revenue from sales. It should also include indirect costs and gains, such as time spent on agency management, and increased customer engagement as a result of new content activity. You should aim to add a monetary figure to each, however, note that it will not be possible for all aspects of your analysis.
Now it’s time to put all of this together and provide the logistics behind implementing your new content marketing solution.
Similarly, as discussed above, you will need to define the resources required outside of your own means for operations to run successfully. Do you need more budget? Do you need specific SEO or social listening tools to help you identify search opportunities or build buyer personas? Does your team require additional training from an outside source? These are all factors you will need to consider and clearly communicate with your board.
With regard to timelines, we recommend creating a provisional schedule or roadmap to implementing your strategy, and goalposts for reaching your goals. A roadmap will give an indication of how long tasks will take to complete, who is responsible for each deliverable and the deadlines required to complete the project efficiently and effectively. This is particularly important to manage expectations since many content strategies require an initial research phase, where deliverables could be delayed.
It can also be useful to assign each task an estimated time to complete and delegate these to the appropriate team or staff member, so that you can provide a rough guide of how much each will cost and resource requirements.
Keep your conclusion clear and concise, leaving your board on a high. Reiterate how your content marketing solution will benefit the long-term goals of the business, not just your marketing objectives. Provide a recap of the expected outcomes of your recommendations and why this is in your business’s best interest. Ensure that the conclusion is persuasive, yet simple enough for all stakeholders to understand and share.
You need to make your business case as impactful as possible, without overloading your execs with information and resources. Your appendices are an invaluable tool you can use in a business case to showcase successful content case studies, supporting articles, fact sheets or reports. Just make sure you include a select sample of resources that relate to your particular business case and best support your proposal. For instance, if you’re planning to implement an SEO blog strategy, find a case study to demonstrate the results you can experience from this or from a similar brand.
Here are examples of fantastic case studies you can use to help you:
There’s no doubt that content marketing is a core pillar of any digital marketing strategy, with long-lasting business and brand benefits. However, it is how you communicate this to your board that will determine whether you get buy-in. Building a solid business case will be greatly beneficial, helping you demonstrate the value of your proposition and the feasibility of your plans. So, what are you waiting for? Use our advice to build an irresistible business case for content marketing that no one can refuse!
If you’re looking to grow your business with content marketing, check out our content marketing services to find out how we can help you realise your digital aspirations, or get in touch for more information.
9 Steps to Building an Irresistible Business Case for Content MarketingSophie Mizrachi ● March 10, 2023