Making the case for content marketing can sometimes be a challenge.
How exactly do you do you that? Well, friends, it’s all about the language you use.
I was thrilled to sit down with B2B marketing consultant PAM DIDNER to learn more about the unique ways she sells the concept of content, especially at a traditional marketing organization.
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In this episode, you’ll learn:
- How to sell content marketing to those who don’t know what it is
- How to use sales to show the value of content
- How to determine the success and ROI of your content
- How to prepare a pitch in the virtual era
Amanda: Hey everyone. Quick note to start the episode, I want to apologize there was something wonky going on my end with the audio during this interview with Pam Didner, but she is fantastic. And I did have the idea to mute myself while she was talking, so, it does get better. So, I’m sorry about the beginning where it’s kind of rough audio wise, Pam deserves better than that, but it’s a really great episode. So, please bear with it, and enjoy.
Intro: Hey, friends, welcome to Cashing in on Content Marketing. I’m Amanda Milligan, the marketing director at Fractl. And every week on the show, I interview marketing experts about ways to know the value of your work and get buy in for your strategies. This week, we’re exploring how to get buy in for Content Marketing at a traditional marketing organization. So, basically, if you’re at a company that doesn’t understand the value of Content Marketing or even know what it is, our awesome guest today, the b2b marketing consultant, author and speaker, Pam Didner is going to give you some tips on how to make the case for content. Welcome to the show Pam.
Pam: Thank you so much. And thank you so much for having me, Amanda.
Amanda: Oh, of course, I’m so excited to chat with you. Before the show, we were talking about how I’ve seen you speak, and I’m so impressed. You always have amazing tips and so much energy, and I just loved it. So, I’m really excited to have you on the show. Before we jump in anything, can you talk a little bit about your experience working with these types of traditional marketing companies?
Pam: Oh, yeah, definitely. So, I, personally, I’ve worked in a very traditional company called Intel. And we started the blogging, and I was a practice for at least 10 years ago. And when we started management was very skeptical, as we started as a pilot. And we positioned as, you know what this is something we should try, can we just do a quick pilot. So, that’s another thing that you can get yourself in. And having conversation with your management, and anything kind of new that management is not being familiar with. And the best thing you can do is pay to do a little pilot to try it out. And that’s how we got started out exactly as a pilot. The biggest challenge at the time is because Intel is a tech company, a lot of the products that we do, or a lot of product we sell on the platforms tend to move a lot more complicated for the marketers, and the wider content because we can do that as twice. And with that being said, you have to provide the content either verbally or have it written. So, we wrote the first draft and then we take it from there. So, that’s how we got started in terms of blog. And then of course, everything else in terms of the different kinds of content format that gradually and slowly follow after the content, started becoming a standard practice.
Amanda: I did see on your blog that you mentioned how important the language is around pitching it, but that word pilot is key so that people don’t feel as anxious about signing on to something like oh, it’s just a pilot, what if it doesn’t work.
Pam: Well, if it’s not successful, you can actually quit. But the one thing I do actually want to share with your listeners, the length of pilot, right. So, for any kind of marketing effort, especially on the b2b side. And if you want to test anything, I strongly recommend that you do six months, six to eight months, right? And the blog is not something that, oh my God, if you publish one, everybody will be like, Oh, my God, this is the best thing ever. Right? So, it’s not like you publish and people will come. There’s obviously intentional effort you have to do to promote it. And that also takes a lot of time, as you know, Amanda. And so, in general, I will recommend and share with my clients or any prospects. If you want to do a pilot, make sure that you allow about six to eight months and you have to clearly set expectation with your marketer.
Amanda: Yeah, that makes total sense. What obstacles have you seen either you’re self or other marketers have to face when they’re dealing with people who don’t really know what Content is. So, I’m sure there’s just the hesitation of what is this? We don’t know what this is. So, we don’t want to try it. But what other kind of setbacks do you think there typically are?
Pam: So, let me answer that question in a long way or in a form of couple approaches. And, by the way, Content Marketing or even Content is nothing new. So, even as a traditional marketer, way back now, they still create content, it just a sales collateral, or the marketing communication that they have to use too, as a part of the marketing channels that they have to push out content print, or even the sponsor articles, or even Sales Cloud rules, although that’s some sort of Content, per say. But the thing about Content Marketing versus all the Content that’s being produced in the traditional type of a format, is that Content Marketing is, you actually have to publish something on a consistent manner. If you do blog, chances are you do blog every week, every two weeks, or you publish, like, in more frequently, than you just have like, Oh, I’m going to have a sales collateral, oh, I’m actually going to have a solution green. Does that make sense? So, how I see Content Marketing, I always try to explain to a management, it’s nothing new. But that’s looking at the Content Marketing, from the perspective that we continuously share the relevant content with our audience. So, it’s not like, I don’t say, oh, we have to publish a blog once a week. But let’s say it a little bit differently, like, hey, to get our name out there, people are constantly searching. Because they are constantly searching, I think we should publish our content a little more often. And the way that we are going to do it is not creating more collabs. It’s thinking about what we can do to actually increase our probability of search, you know, so our content will serve up when they need it. So, that’s how I usually position, and it intends to work pretty well, because I’m talking from the audience perspective, first of all, and second thing is, I talk from the trend that people are searching a lot. And we want to actually have our website, our products that serve up a little bit more often. But of course, I simplified my answer. But I simplify from management’s perspective, right? Deep down, if you want to make sure when they search, whatever people search, by your article or your website come up, there’s so much more you have to get into it, you have to make sure you optimize your website, make sure you’re on top of the keyword, you make sure you have tons of content that’s high quality, you need to make sure you have a backlink whatnot. But all that information doesn’t have to share with your management, you explain in very plain English and make them understand and at the same time ease them up and say, oh, this is nothing new, we just have to do a little bit more often. So, it’s like talking to an audience, you know, Barclays good for you, encourage them a little bit, you did that into a range dressing? You know that kind of talk.
Amanda: That’s amazing. I also read that you suggested using sales, the sales team, as a way in to show that content can provide value. Can you talk a little bit about that approach?
Pam: Yes, I published a blog post and I talked about, hey, how you can pitch to management, in terms of content marketing. On one hand the ideas I just shared with you were right from the marketing angle. So, that’s one, and reality angle using Word web is from sales side, that’s assuming you weren’t on a marketing angle. And the salespeople and your management are pretty savvy. So, they’ll say, oh, I want to do that. And then you say, okay, what about this? What about you go to your sales team and the VP of sales, and you align with them, right? So, you basically said, I am going to do this and the benefit of that, the sales team will actually have more Content. A lot of times the salespeople come to me, majority of times. Yeah, like they come to me for two reasons. First one is, we don’t have Content for that. And the second reason is, I cannot find the Content. And I just say, I’m sorry. Anyway, so a lot of times its content related, especially in a b2b site, or the products or selling cycles are much longer, because the selling cycle is much longer, the salespeople need to keep the prospects engaged. And one way we motivate them to get engaged, is to ride along with them, that’s one way. And you share something interesting with them. And that something interesting, can be Content, right. So, it’s like, hey, I found this white paper and I’m talking about five trends of the body management, and I saw that even today. So, here you are, Steven, I’m sending to you, and how’s your Friday, right? Via email with that piece of content, all of a sudden is a conversation opener. So, it will probably be your product or the salespeople on top of your mind, again, that’s why everybody’s sending email and the email marketing is not dead, because it does, psychologically or at that moment, and we’ll show your company or your product, like on the top of someone’s inbox. So, align with sales, and try to explain the benefit of that, and understand what kind of additional Content that you may need. And then try to correlate that with some of the content you want to create, or some of the content marketing initiatives you want to do and align with that. And talking about sales angle can also be another option to get people to get your management buy into Content Marketing.
Amanda: I love that. I love that you have a few different ways just in case one doesn’t work as well, you have some other options.
Pam: Yeah, and it can even be a brand new management. Come on cookies, I need some cookies, okay, he’s going to give me the budget.
Amanda: So, we’ve talked about getting like buy in, and you’ve provided really good tips there. So, let’s talk about like, actually determining the ROI of what you’re doing. So, you said that you can’t figure out the value of Content without the context of everything else related to that context, like the way that you’re distributing it and all that. So, how do you go about determining whether content is successful or not?
Pam: You know, that’s a great question. And there’s always a debate. All right, the Content Marketing is not marketing. Seriously, because content itself or blog, a blog, originally, when you write a draft of the blog, very likely is in the Google doc, or even in the Word doc, right. Then you upload it to WordPress, and that’s a blog on your website. But that content, that piece of content, is just the content, nobody’s going to come to your content unless you promote it. Does that make sense? So, because another half of the Content Marketing is promotion. So, if you just create content for the sake of content, and expect people to come, trust me, nobody will come. Unless you are, you know, you are TELUS web or you are like the biggest celebrity name, or you are the biggest brand name. Even if you are the biggest brand name, nowadays, people don’t just usually come, right. So, you have to promote it. And the promotion is like, okay, email marketing, okay, the promotion can be paid, a Facebook ad, the promotion can be, you know, the page, the media blog, right. So, in order to get your content to be seen, it has to be a function of some sort of communication channel. Does that make sense?
Pam: So, if you want to major our why of content itself, you can. How? It’s the content is just sitting there on your website, so it has to be a function of the communication channel that you’re going to push out, or a number of the downloads, right, but even if you come up with the number of downloads it’s still there some sort of promotion that you have done to have the inbound traffic to your site. Does that make sense? I have come to realize and not everybody agree with me, is the way that you have to measure ROI is really be a function of something, right? So, there are two by my perspective, and the one is the downloads and the viewership, granted, that’s in one. But the other one is how the content being repurposed and used as a part of the other outreach channel, right. That the content being used as a part of email campaigns, right, the content has been used as a part of social media outreach, the content has been used by you know, some other team. So, the usage of the content is also in one, unfortunately, there’s no platform to track that. And a lot of time on top, I always recommend my clients on the top performing content. In addition to like number of downloads, the viewership, you also have to somehow get information and identify how those contents being used at different channels. And that’s a manual process. And there’s no other way out, as far as I can tell, unless your marketing is fully integrated, fully in a vacuum.
Amanda: Does this tie to the two different ways you say that you measure content, whether it’s, you said from sources, syndication channels, like you’re saying, and then you said, the other option is from destinations. So, like word ends up, can you talk a little bit about that approach?
Pam: Yeah, the source and the destination is, just like I indicated, the source is how the source has been used. And that the destination is, destination can mean different ways depending on how people define them, right. A lot of people say, okay, well, I’ll probably drive back to our destination, which is a blog post, that you can track the destination. And some people basically said, the destination is, well, I have my outbound communication, right. So, it really depends, but the way I want to define the destination is basically where the final destination of that blog post is, right. So, majority of times it’s actually on website, but what about that piece of content is a sponsored content that reside on a third party, public publication sites, which is a media buy, that’s also a destination, if that’s the case, you have to get the body data, right, you have to go to the media, by publication companies that actually do that for you and to gather that information. So, that’s what I’m talking about sources. And the one piece of content, especially one blog post, sometimes there’s a lot of blog posts that have been repurposed to a different channel. So, you have to understand where that destination is, again, data has been scattered, right. So, you are not going to gather, saying the sponsored content that you place on forbes.com, or on, newyorktimes.com, they have to provide that information back to you. And you have to manually get that information.
Amanda: So, which approach of determining this value is best to report to your leadership or your peers?
Pam: You know, that’s a great question. And I’m hesitant, I sigh at this minute, this is where I personally think the Content Marketers or even Content Marketing has failed in a lot of way, and the by the way, and I’m not saying that this is anybody’s fault. It’s not, it’s just the nature of the content itself, and how digital marketing is done in the current stage. And remember, I said content is just a content. And unless you syndicate it out as just a function of different channels or you do a media buy and stores that specific content or select that content on different publishing companies that they can actually promote it for you, then the collecting of a very comprehensive data is hard. Because they will say that your content is using multiple different channels and organic versions, the media by, so when you gather information, there’s always a sense of incomplete. That’s the reality, and I want to make sure that everybody understands, that everybody runs through that issue. And the data you collect is always incomplete, it’s not going to be 100% accurate. If your management is always asking for accurate data, you are just going to you have to instead have the expectation of a disclaimer, that this is what you can gather as of today. Does that make sense?
Pam: And then the second thing is that the incompletion of the data is one challenge. The second challenge is that in terms of promoting and sharing with the management is, they always want to know, how does the Content Marketing impact sales? How does the Content Marketing impact conversion? And you sum it up, but if you aren’t just saying that, okay, I have 50 million downloads. What does that mean? How does that impact to sales? How does that impact conversion? So, unless you’re back in, again, this is all the technology you will need to connect it. Unless your buy-in is connected, for example, you have 50 million downloads, and you have some sort of data, limited data. Now you can do some segmentation, you can do some correlation with your CRM tools, with your marketing automation tools, then you can provide additional insight to your management. Out of this 50 million downloads, you can tell you managers, right. And out of your target account 490, the 50 million downloads we actually can tribe about 5% of things coming from those 490 accounts, for example, right, all of a sudden, you carry a very productive, insightful conversation with your management. But that requires you to do analysis, that require the back end data is connected, which is these two prerequisites tend not to happen in many new companies. That’s why a lot of companies, they stop at a number of downloads. Does that make sense?
Pam: So, whenever I try to work with the clients, I always push them so hard, I say you cannot sell me top 20 by content, when you have a total download of 1 million, that doesn’t mean a thing to your management, it’s impossible. But can we call it some data and find out from the people who download the information, we have the email addresses, we correlate that with our CRM, especially on some of the strategic accounts that the salespeople are tracking. So, if you make that correlation, and we can show that, that the content does have some sort of impact, even if it’s minimal, you showed us some sort of impact on the undercount side or on the sales side, you will go more miles, when you share the allies with your management. Is that helpful?
Amanda: Yeah. I love that you kind of like–
Pam: We’ve come a long way of talking about it, it has to tie, the content has to move people down the funnels, that’s the problem. And we tend to stay on top of the funnels most of time. And that’s not marketers’ fault, because nowadays the buyer’s trend is so complicated. And unless you can track all the attributions, it’s hard, I get it. It’s hard. So—
Amanda: Yeah, you can definitely commiserate with the people in this situation, because I think that’s why so many people end up reporting on like vanity metrics, or they’ll just say, like something pretty.
Pam: Yeah, exactly. Oh, I have likes, I have impressions, I have this. But you have to take it down to the next level. And the only way to take it down to a next level is to get your hands dirty, you have to get your hands dirty, you have to be in the trenches, you have to analyze the data, you probably don’t have to do it yourself, if you have little budget, you hire someone else to do it. You have to get your hands dirty. I have to say that one more time, right. If it’s not your hand, okay. But you have to be in the trenches with that person.
Amanda: Yeah, absolutely. I wanted to ask, and I think you’ve done a presentation on this as well. And I’m going to link to these resources in the show notes for people who want to dive into any of these more specifically, but you talk about, like, how to prepare for this type of a pitch meeting, where you’re trying to get buy-in for something content related. And I also want to ask, we’re recording this in December 2020. So, we’re still in COVID times, how that changes online, when you’re doing this type of stuff. Not even in a room with people, but on zoom or something.
Pam: I know. So, you have two questions. How does content change during, you know, unusual circumstances? And then second thing is how to pitch. COVID changes everything, for the longest time it was like, oh, yeah, you know, way back in like April, we were like, oh, this will be over by June, everything will go back to normal. And then before it’s like the whole year passes, we are still sheltered inside. And the things that I come to realize, is when I go to different stores, and that just kind of analyze our own purchasing behavior. All right. And Amanda, I don’t know about you. Like for example, if I actually have to go to the Apple Store, I cannot walk in, I have to set up appointments. And if I decided to go to H&M to do a holiday shopping, and they only allow certain amount of people in the store and you cannot get in in somebody else’s aisle and you have to line up once you’re trying to get in, right? So, they actually take the counts of how many people are outside because those hashtags social distancing. And so, with those kind of changes, the content needs to change, to update on your website, to share or communicate with your prospects or buyers, that you are doing everything we can to keep them safe, right. There’s tons of inconvenience, right. You cannot walk into a store as if anymore, you have to line up. So, the signage needs to change, you have to somehow apologize to your customers, and also have to explain the process, and all those are content. And all those are things that needs to be explained to your audience, so, they know what they do, right. So, they know what you are doing to keep them safe, they know that you are trying to actually do everything you can to minimize their frustration. For the longest time any kind of those process changes. And any major points, you don’t notice it and they don’t talk about it. Because those are just internal processes that make the change. They want to be sure salespeople inside the store are fully aware of it and can be implemented to minimize that as much, but now all those processes and all those communication, you have to communicate that out. Does that make sense?
Pam: It has a huge impact on marketing, and marketing was not used to that. I was not, I wasn’t always on the inside, you know, whenever we create a piece of content, no matter how long it takes for you to get it right, even if you have to drive like 3000 times to get legal approved. And a piece of content takes about like six weeks, again, that I’m talking about a loan form. And now all of a sudden, everything is changing, like a regular basis every two or three days, every two or three days. And marketing’s always the telling of all communication, right. So, if everything is changing downward spiral all the time internally, imagine that impact, the impact is a tsunami impact on the marketing, oh, my God, it’s changing again. So, I have to redo all my copy. Oh, my God, this is changing again, oh I have to redo my copy. Does that make sense? Oh, I have to update my website. Oh, my God, I cannot keep up. So, at the end, all the changes that happened at a storefront, I’m not talking about e commerce. That was done, actually a store is no longer centralized, that’s because marketing can keep up. And there’s nothing against marketing, because our resources are finite, and also limited. And there’s so many changes it’s very hard for us to keep up. So, the key things I learned out of this whole thing is you have to be very nimble, while changing just basically, oh it’s changing again, let’s do it. There’s not much to it. But you have to also tell you management, you know, all those changes will cost you money.
That’s the thing. I think marketing failed to communicate clearly. And that’s things that you have to tell them, their own kind of revision is money. That’s how it has to be done. So, moving forward, and I just finished my newsletter for December, it’s basically the best marketing plan for 2021 is to leave room for flexibility. There’s not much to it, in the past you can create a marketing plan in a budget that you had, you can review every single quarter, you’ll find. So, that’s my biggest takeaway. And in terms of pitching to management, it depends on many factors. Amanda, when you do a pitch, you have to look at holistically, you know, what is perishable, what is management’s perfection, some managers are misers, nothing against them, love them dearly, but they don’t want to spend money. And also you have to take that into account, then otherwise maturity of your content management cycle. I mean, you starting as a pilot, or you’re thinking about to expand. And the third is Alliance and also the perception and how people understand Content Marketing within your team, and also sales teams. So, there’s a lot of factors that you should take into account. So, when you do the pitch, don’t just think what you want to say. Everybody knows what they want to say, I want Content Marketing, but you have to think about the perspectives. What do you think management is going to think about? And what do they care? And can you address that in your pitch? I do align with sales, in sales, like you’re very excited about this initiative, you want to kick in, alright. And also, internal team, does that create additional work for them? It was additional work for them, trust me, you’re not going to get a lot of value. So, how are you going to address that? So, at the end of the day, when you pitch, it’s really all about addressing people’s concerns. What are their concerns? How can I address them and tackle them one by one? So, your pitch meeting is not talking about trends, it’s not talking about how great Content Marketing is. You can, but at the end of the day, your pitch deck into a dress, the people sitting in the room, we’re concerned. That’s how we should do it.
Amanda: That’s a great perspective to have, it makes total sense and something that I think people forget about when they get caught up in the–
Pam: Yeah, l 100% agree. I have my share of that, too.
Amanda: Pam, this has been wonderful. I like to wrap up interviews with just kind of a more like, fun question. And I’m doing a new one for 2021, which is, what advice do you have for Content Marketers on how to just be more creative in their work? Like, how do you get more creative or find inspiration?
Pam: For me specifically?
Pam: I do yoga, I’m yogini. So, whenever I do yoga, everybody was like, oh, you are pregnant? And I was never pregnant when I stared yoga. Whenever I do yoga, I stretch, and I was, like, Amanda asked me this question. And then I’m like okay, let’s, like, you know, and I’m like okay, Amanda says about this, is that right? So, whenever I was doing yoga, my mind was always on my house and thinking about client questions and thinking about the things, it was just horrible. Like talking about it, like doing yoga, be present, completely not working for me. But I use that time to actually kind of think through, like the stuff I want to do, or the speaking, a presentation I’m working on, like a lot of time when you’re kind of stuck somewhere. And the way for me to actually kind of like think through and get another angle or think through with another sense of clarity is through doing yoga. So, that’s one way. And the other one, I have to tell you just ask people, you know, it’s like, you post a question on Facebook community, hey, I ran into this issue, what do you think? And for me, I usually have some people I can go to, and I will ask specific questions. And I think that’s where the importance of mentoring and the importance of coaching for coaches. So, I will say asking questions. And actually another, I will say, easy way to get some sort of answer. But in terms of creativity, for me specifically, is I just need to be somewhere very quiet, and by myself, and just let my mind wander, you know, we don’t let our mind wonder, why? Because we are constantly looking at our own devices, right? From your phone, to tablets, to your laptop. And I really cherish the time, that just like nothing, I don’t try to move the dial, I don’t want to know, get my phone alive. And just, you know, just let your mind wander. And I think that’s where I get most of my creativity.
Amanda: I love that. So, my final question I promise is, knowing the objectives of this show, who would you recommend to be guests on future episodes?
Pam: I would recommend Addis Ababa lb. So, if you are talking about Content Marketing and sales enablement, she is the gal.
Amanda: Wonderful. I love getting recommendations from people and meeting new marketing folks. Pam, thank you so much for taking the time to come on the show and share your insights. I really appreciate it.
Pam: Hey, thank you so much for inviting me. And I hope your listeners will find at least some of my advice useful. And yeah, if there is anybody have any specific feedback or concerns about my answers or disagree with me, please let me know. I would love to hear from you.
Amanda: How can they reach out to you?
Pam: Oh, I am on every single social media channel except Tick Tock. So, you can reach out to me on LinkedIn, on social media, on twitter @pamdidner, or just quickly go to my website and send me an email, that’s it.
Amanda: Awesome. Thanks so much, Pam. Thanks, if you if you’ve listened to this and want even more tips, sign up for our podcast newsletter by going to the podcast page on the fractal website. And if you’ve learned anything from this show, we’d love it if you’d subscribe on your favorite podcast platform and leave a review. Finally, if you have feedback, suggestions, ideas, songs I should listen to, thoughts on whether I should get a second cat, ice cream maker recommendations or anything you’d like to share with me. shoot me an email at, [email protected]. I’m a shameless extrovert we’d love to hear from you. Thank you to Sean Kelly for podcasts, music and editing and to Joao Pereyra for the logo design. And thank you dear listener, I hope you’ll join us next time.