games-executivesAs corporate marketing teams grow with success, there’s a tendency to delegate time-consuming kinds of work — like marketing content creation — to newer, less managerial employees.

For instance, one of our most successful clients — a leading financial services company — initially started a business blog when they were just two employees strong. Back then, it was just the founder and his consultant promoting and blogging for the company.

Within just a few years, what was a small startup had grown into a formidable blogging success story. The company’s president has since hired a three-person marketing team and has a host of support staff that handles new business.

As you can guess, with so much business growth, the president isn’t blogging very much. Instead, as with most growing businesses, marketing tasks have been delegated to somebody with more time on their hands — marketing managers like me.

But Is Leaving all Content Creation to the Specialists a Good Idea?

There’s a lot that says it’s not. Executive leaders are often the most likely people to be heavy-lifting influencers in your industry. They have the most experience, the largest networks, and — because they lead their own company — they have the most sway. In other words, they’re the perfect person to be writing something with a byline.

If the executives have fallen out of your content marketing plan, then you’re probably not getting the type of attention you should be.

Take Weidert Group for example. Our president, Greg Linnemanstons, is now a veteran of inbound marketing — with somewhere around 100 years of experience in corporate marketing before that (okay, it’s really more like 20). Compared to one of our younger staff, some of whom are right out of college, his following on social media is substantial.

So, consider the value of having Greg’s recognizable name writing a blog post versus mine. Depending on the topic, either might attract plenty of visitors. However, the baseline potential for Greg’s to cause leads and prospects to take notice is much higher because they know recognize his name and trust his reputation.

You Should Always Keep Leaders Involved in Your Content Marketing

The same goes for larger corporations. The people in the C-suite are often influencers in the industry with a lot to say about what customers are looking for. They’re experienced, attuned to the field, and highly knowledgeable. For these reasons, it’s a marketing manager’s duty to keep executives integrated with their content marketing efforts (and blogging, more specifically).

My experience working with the executives at my own agency has helped me discover valuable tactics for any marketer managing a regular content marketing calendar. Especially for companies who include staff participants from across departments and specialties, these four strategies can be highly valuable for encouraging important contributors to hit deadlines.

Now, with a bit of warning, don’t actually start “playing games” with your staff. Nobody likes passive aggressive employees. But if you infuse a little bit of fun and competition into the agency, you can generate a lot of action, as well as excitement, for your marketing initiatives. Here are four ways to keep your executives invested:

1) Play to the Chief’s Ego

Not every executive leader cares about his publishing record, but if your head honcho is like the ones I deal with, then he’s probably a competitive, strategic thinker who wants his name out there. Sure, a blog might take him three to four hours to write, but, if he values it, he’ll find the time.

To make our leadership notice how not blogging could cause a slump in their reputations, I remind them of how long it’s been since their last post, and I casually bring up a competing leader who recently published a noteworthy piece. There’s nothing like telling a senior consultant that another marketing agency’s blog post just went viral. It’s the kind of thing that makes a leader move fast, and it gets others motivated along the way.

2) Make Yourself the Content Creation Martyr

Another game we’ve played is having a dedicated marketer play clean up for every missed deadline. Whether it’s one of the management team who missed the deadline or somebody else, making yourself the martyr makes people feel obligated to pay you back.

If people know that the consequence for not hitting a deadline is that one of their coworkers will have to write the article for them, it becomes harder and harder for them to slack.

I recommend having a set content martyr who will even skip lunch to make up somebody’s missed blog deadline. Then, whenever deadlines begin being missed again, you’ll have an automatic reaction in place.

3) Make It a Competition

For the busiest leaders on your content team whose reliability is often in question, I’d recommend making it a competition from the get-go. Pit your executives against less experienced associates to see who can meet their deadline.

This tactic is a fun way of making sure deadlines are hit, but be warned.Sometimes this gives the more senior of the competitors an opportunity to make excuses. It’s important to remember that no matter what the result, your goal should be to keep leaders included because their voice is important and influential.

4) Encourage Leaders to Be Motivators

This game is really for your whole team. When content quality is lacking or your publishing efforts lack a targeted approach, you should use senior leaders as motivating allies to help content planning achieve a new level.

I try to ensure that I have at least one leader in our content planning meetings to help motivate younger associates to think outside the box. Managers get to where they are because of their strategic mindset, and most are perfectly comfortable pointing out weaknesses in a content team.

By getting a member of your management team in the room, they will see holes that only experience can fill in a content marketing effort, and they’ll want to be included. We’ve had whole blog series created out of the frustration leaders tend to see when content planning goes on without them, so don’t hesitate to get them involved early — just remember to make it fun.


Originally published Sep 30, 2014 3:00:48 AM, updated December 02 2014