Launching a content-centric initiative in a traditional marketing organization can be tricky. This is especially true when your peers are not familiar with content marketing. Worse, they may be concerned that content marketing would impact their job scope (in other words: job security). Nevertheless, content marketing can co-exist with traditional marketing. The challenge is how to ease it into the more traditional setting.

Andi attended my Global Content Marketing Workshop at Content Marketing World and sent me this question:

“Pam, I am sitting here going through my notes from CMW highlighting what I need to take action on when I get back to the office and I have highlighted so much from your presentation! I do have one question – do you have a recommendation on how to transition from a traditional marketing program to a content program without it being jarring for the audience?”

Here are my two suggestions on how you can approach this. One is to tackle it from the marketing end, the other approach is to work from the sales side.

Tackle from marketing side:

  1.  Do your homework. Understand how the existing marketing programs work and perform. What traditional marketing programs or campaigns has the company tried? How did they perform? Is the marketing team happy about it? If not, why not?
  2.  Take the insights you gather and identify some opportunities where content marketing can help. If the internal resistance on content marketing is high, start small. If people are open to new ideas, well, suggest or recommend something with a bigger scope. I love to use the word, pilot. It’s about trying something new. It’s not about making big changes.
  3.  Propose the ideas or your recommendations to senior managers to get their input. Pitch it with the following attitude: “Ok, here are a couple of things which can enhance our current marketing outreach (position as an enhancement to existing efforts). Maybe we can try or pilot something and see how it may help or improve the existing traditional marketing elements.” Use the word pilot so that you don’t come out looking as if you’re proposing a massive change.

Andi, I don’t know how well traditional programs are working in your company. I assume, if you do a lot of events, marketing managers gather many business cards and the event team passes them to the sale teams, but salespeople won’t follow up. Maybe content can be used as a means to nurture the prospects. If prospects click on specific types of content, such as buying guide or a feature comparison list, it may serve as a clue that the prospect is ready to move on to the next stage. Then, you can pass that lead to the sales team, because you qualified it.

Another example: maybe your company is still doing a lot of traditional paid ads but they don’t know how to do paid efforts on social media. You can do some research on where your target audiences go on social media and propose social media outreach campaigns. Again, it’s a pilot. Make it a 6-month program and have specific performance metrics tied to the campaigns.

Tackle from the sales side:

  1.  If your marketing team is not open to any new programs, that’s fine. You can start with your sales team by understanding their needs and concerns. The most important thing is to understand their sales processes and methodologies.
  2.  Document their processes and identify the types of content they may need for each stage.
  3.  Source content that will help them, share your content recommendations with them and ask if these content pieces are something they will use. They will tell you yes or no pretty quickly. Start with 5-10 salespeople, if your sales team is big.
  4.  Identify the missing gaps where the existing content doesn’t meet their needs.
  5.  Propose a plan to create new content or refresh existing content for the sales team. If you don’t have a budget, ask them if they can kick in some budget to help you. Again, start small.

I tried this approach with my sales team in the past and I got the budget I needed to create some sales-centric content for them.

So, a quick summary of the two approaches, Andi:

One approach is to understand how existing traditional marketing program works and performs. Find the gaps and see how content marketing can help.

The other approach is to understand the sales team’s needs and see if you can provide content to address their needs.

One more approach is to create a proposal as part of your annual plan and seek top management buy-in. Again, in a big enterprise, having top buy-in is not enough, you need to bring your internal stakeholders and peers along. Otherwise, it’s hard to get anything implemented.

Andi, I hope this helps. Thank you so much for coming to my Global Content Marketing Workshop. If you have any more questions, send it along.

What can Pam Didner do for you?

Being in the corporate world for 20+ years and having held various positions from accounting and supply chain management, and marketing to sales enablement, she knows how corporations work. She can make you and your team a rock star by identifying areas to shine and do better. She does that through private coaching, keynote speaking, workshop training, and hands-on consulting. Contact her or find her on LinkedIn and Twitter. A quick note: Check out her new 90-Day Revenue Reboot, if you are struggling with marketing.