08 November 2023 |

The not-so frivolous pursuits of our career

By Tracey Wallace

An email back to my welcome message this week said that their biggest content challenge was getting larger team buyin so that content efforts aren’t wasted or, as they put it, a “frivolous pursuit.” 

I wish I had a more effective answer here…but the reality is that figuring out how to get larger team buy-in for content initiatives, even as small as single posts, will be different at every single company. 

In fact, it will likely even be different across your different colleagues. 

Last week I said that content marketing is like working in one of those college group projects––but for the rest of your career. At least, that’s how it is when you are doing it well. 

Far too often, the content teams that are able to move the fastest are the ones working on islands. I’ve been on islands like that before. In fact, at BigCommerce, content marketing was an island of 1 for years—with 0 budget. People only started paying attention when organic traffic numbers were growing exponentially. 

But organic search marketing, through content, isn’t as easy as it used to be (and it was never really easy). Even it as a channel requires larger team integration to be effective nowadays. 

Think about one of the largest problems in the content marketing industry––the ability to track content back to revenue. 

It’s a noble goal, but its a goal of content teams primarily that are islands. Because if you weren’t an island, if you had larger team buy-in and support and therefore distribution, then proving your individual team’s contribution to revenue wouldn’t matter that much. The entire team would be using your content to drive revenue––you’d be integrated, you’d be central, you’d be crucial. You don’t have to prove revenue for that. 

Now, content teams do often need to prove lead generation, right? You need to show that the content you are creating converts––and does so throughout the funnel. That’s what gives you the feedback you need to create new content, different content, to test formats and ideas, and even to help convince folks on your team to buy-in. 

But trust me when I say that I’ve tried everything to get buy-in. And what works at one company doesn’t at another. And what works with one person doesn’t with another. 

Here are a few of the tactic I’ve tried:

  • The inspired / visual route: A lot of people in marketing roles need to be sold your vision. So, sell it to them. Create a deck that visualizes the potential look & feel of the content including headlines and sample copy, case studies and videos, etc. Sell the idea with beauty backed with proper messaging to show the team how the idea can pull folks in and through the funnel in a way that elevates the brand, and tickles any marketer’s curiosity and love for cool-looking things. 
  • The “this was your idea” route: Whether in a deck or a one-pager, building off of your audience’s previous idea and making a content asset or program out of it. Everything in this version builds off of the original idea / concept, and you work to tie it all back to that messaging and getting that POV across throughout the pitch. 
  • The fully-baked route: Some people just won’t get it until it’s done. Have I an dmy teams had to fully write a piece of content in order to get someone to buy-in? Absolutely. 80% of those end up going live, but not all of them do. Some folks need to actually read the copy as it will be presented in order to sign on. 
  • The product marketing route: In this strategy, you work to align all of your content ideas back to the product marketing personas documentation––so that you have strong back up for why this content at this stage to solve thissss problem. 
  • The data route: The above method is also well supported by the data route, which is leveraging data to show how effective this has been before––and what you will do differently to make it even more so this time. 
  • The competitor route: No one likes seeing competitors doing something better––so leverage that innate competitiveness for your own good. How can you take what a competitor is doing, use it as a baseline for what you want to do, and talk about how you will blow that out of the water, and make something far better––visually and contextually. 
  • The peer / boss pressure route: Use this sparingly please, but “so and so said we needed to” or “it was [boss’] idea” works––and it should be the truth if you’re using this one. 

I’m sure there are many, many other routes here. I’d love to hear from y’all on ones you’ve successfully (or even unsuccessfully) used! 

The point here being––you have to keep trying. You have to keep showing up. You have to be that group member, that teammember, that person trying to solve a problem for the larger business. 

That’s the job, and it’s the area where we get to be creative and learn more about psychology and philosophy. In fact, I annually binge this Harvard course on philosophy and started back in my BigCommerce days as I was trying to figure out how to get larger team buy-in. 

Also, remember that part of getting buy-in is building relationships––ones that allow for open and honest feedback. Start there. Brainstorm with folks. Let people in. Embrace the group project you are on. 

And then try, try, and try again to get folks to buy-in using the ways they ingest information best. It’s a grind. It’s the job. And it’s a beautiful way, if you let it be, to learn how people work and better understand this weird species were all a part of. 

In my most recent book, this quote is really sticking with me: “Things take the time they take.” The best we can do is embrace it.