The Forward Observer

The 3 Most Important Content Marketing Questions CEOs Should Ask

As CEO of a company moving to content marketing, are you wondering how to set the right course? These three questions will have the greatest impact.


Let’s say you are the CEO of a company that has seen its sales pipeline flattening out for a couple of years. The effectiveness of cold calling is plummeting. And you have a sense that the traditional marketing that generated leads in the past isn’t working anymore.

You’ve heard about the concept that your marketing needs to pull prospects toward you like a magnet, rather than interrupting them with unwanted, interruptive messages. You’re beginning to think that you’ve got to make the move to this approach to survive, especially before your competitors do.

Your company has marketing people (and a marketing agency) who can mount a content marketing effort to help transform your lead generation efforts. You’ve established a budget, funded largely by re-allocating some marketing funds from other tactics that don’t seem to be working (print advertising, direct mail, trade shows, etc).

This is unfamiliar territory for you and your company. And you know that it won’t be effective without your support and strategic direction.

So how can you, as CEO, make sure the right course is set and followed? Here are three preliminary questions you should ask your marketing folks to make sure that your company’s content marketing will be effective:

1. What is the content’s focus?

Do you want your content to attract more traffic, convert visitors to leads, or nurture those leads toward a sale? All of the above? Something else like changing existing attitudes or repairing your reputation?

Before creating content, make sure you know why you’re creating it. That is determined by researching your ideal customers (also known as buyer personas), and their buyer journey. Those two things are the most important determinants of content marketing success.

Great content is educational: remember that your ultimate goal is to solve your persona’s problems – and the best way to do that iis through education.

Make sure that your content is focused on your buyers at least 80% of the time. And for the remaining 20% when you talk about your company, focus on benefits to the customer rather than your product features.

The people in your C-Suite may be afraid to tell you this, but your customers don’t care about your company and its products. They care about themselves. That’s why when you talk about your products, frame it in terms of the benefit to your customer rather than a recitation of product features. Benefits tie in to emotional desires. Features are devoid of emotion.

Ask how your content is going to remain anchored in the buyer’s head rather than your product catalog. Here are some of the ways your marketing people should be mining for what’s keeping your prospects up at night:

  • Keyword research
  • Internet forums
  • Popular industry news
  • Sales/support FAQs
  • Your persona’s goals
  • Your persona’s challenges

Before creating any content, require your people to answer this question: “Who is this content going to help?” If the answer is not clearly your prospects or your customers, instruct them to stop and readjust.

2. How is the content going to be distributed?

“Build it and they will come” does not work in content marketing. If the content is not delivered to the right people at the right time, it will be largely irrelevant. This is where you should hear about social media strategies (linked to the buyer persona’s habits and usage), marketing automation workflows, email newsletters, guest posting, speaking events, etc.

Consistency is equally important when asking about content distribution. Just like compound interest, consistency pays handsome dividends in the long term. For instance, will the blog posts be going out every day? Once a week? How about premium content like ebooks? One a month? While frequency can get you faster results, consistency is what prevails.

3. What is going to be measured?

Just asking this question at the outset can have an enormous impact. Many marketing and agency people with traditional backgrounds are not used to being held accountable for their activity. Now they can. And you’ll be surprised and pleased at the positive effect this has.

Measurement is not an end in itself. The purpose of measuring and analyzing your content marketing activities is so that you can do more of what’s working and less of what’s not working. Then, give some thought to why things are working or not working. Can that inform future content creation?

Don’t be bamboozled by meaningless vanity metrics such as the number of Facebook likes or Twitter followers (those can be cheaply purchased). Instead inquire about things like:

  • Number of visits
  • Leads generated
  • Social proof, share-ability
  • Inbound links
  • Content performance by author
  • Content performance by topic
  • Content performance by format

Many companies are beginning to realize that their marketing has had to change because the way people buy has changed. To ensure that your content marketing is working hard and smart, ask these strategic questions to set the proper course and convey to your organization that you expect successful outcomes.


photo credit: DonkeyHotey via photopin cc

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