How to Get (and Keep) Leadership Buy-In for Your Digital Marketing Strategy

by Isaac Oswalt on June 14, 2017

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Getting and keeping buy-in for any new digital marketing initiative is crucial. Sure, your boss or the executive team may be skeptical about your proposal at first, especially if it represents a big shift in strategy. Wading into uncharted territory can feel like a huge risk. Your mission is to get the management team on board with this new strategy by presenting your ideas in a calm, rational way. If you make big, pie-in-the-sky promises – "We’ll double sales in 4 weeks!” – you’re setting yourself up for failure. Instead, you need to speak their language, address their pain points, and be honest about what to expect at each stage in the process.

Show Me the Money: Linking Strategy to Sales Success

With a firm eye on the bottom line, executive leaders and managers need to see financial benefits. That’s tricky with digital marketing strategies. It can be tough or downright impossible to draw a clear line between a social media campaign aimed at building brand awareness and a subsequent increase in sales. This challenge can be tackled in a few ways. Ideally, you’ve started by setting appropriate expectations around upfront investment, short-term results and long-term pay off. Cite industry case studies as best practice examples: how have other industry players used similar tactics to enhance their digital marketing programs and increase sales?  

If management is still reluctant to bite (but you firmly believe this strategy is the way forward), consider your presentation. Think about your marketing initiative from a promise-change perspective: what motivates senior leadership? What challenges does your boss or the executive team currently face? For example, if a product is underperforming the competition or had a less-than-stellar launch, your manager may feel pressure to turn this performance around. Frame your idea around how it will address this problem and take the pressure off your boss.

Document a Clear Process: Who, What, When and How Long

When you present your strategy to leadership, prove you have thought through all the different pieces that will be necessary to make this plan succeed. Document each step, include realistic time estimates, and list all the resources required to take the project from concept to completion.

For example, the amount of time it takes to create content for a digital campaign will vary depending on the type of content you’re creating (e.g., videos, blog posts, white papers, etc.) and your current resources (e.g., an existing team of freelance writers and designers, an in-house copywriter, etc.). Freelancers juggle multiple clients at once, so expecting them to turn edits around in 24 hours is probably unrealistic. While you may realize this, your boss may not. Your boss may also not understand how many steps go into content creation, even if it’s just a blog post or small infographic.

Next, consider the edit and approval process. How many layers of internal sign-off will be required? Which stakeholders will be involved? What process will you use for tracking and consolidating changes? Don’t make your life harder by requiring a freelance designer to wade through 14 different feedback emails about the same draft, or telling your boss the new eBook will be ready for publication in a week!

Finally, consider your industry. In highly regulated industries like insurance or pharmaceuticals, you’ll need to budget extra time for legal review and sign-off. Establishing clear process steps up front makes it much easier to get (and keep) leadership buy-in.

Don’t Overlook Promotion

Creating content is just one piece of the puzzle. A smart promotion strategy is essential to getting this content in front of the right people at the right time. As your brand reputation develops as an industry thought leader, you’ll be able to spend less on promotion and more on creation. However, you still need to be clear with the executive team that upfront promotion investment is an absolute must for strategy success and include that in your project budget estimates. While things like promotion investment may seem obvious to you, remember that digital marketing may be uncharted territory for your executive team. In order to ensure leadership buy-in, you’ll need to educate them each step of the way.

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Isaac Oswalt

Owner of 21 Handshake, a strategic marketing company, driven to grow relationship-driven businesses. Futurist in nature, Isaac displays a deep desire to preserve the human element in today's business. Trust being the ultimate currency, his clients appreciate that "new and stronger handshakes" is a success metric in their businesses.

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