As a marketing director, I slip in on calls with prospective clients from time to time.
This call was like most calls – a successful yet struggling marketing manager was up against bosses who wouldn’t give a real content strategy a chance. When Matt, one of our consultants, asked her why her strategy wasn’t working, her exhale said it all.
“My bosses won’t give it a chance. They have all this expertise they could be sharing, but they just don’t think blogging works from their experience.”
It’s an all too common tale: Executives that denounce the practice of business blogging because it hasn’t worked for them. And here’s why.
They’re doing it wrong.
But their often conservative nature and propensity for avoiding time wasters means they haven’t taken the time to hone the craft.
As a marketing manager, we need to understand it’s not their job to hone their craft.
It’s our job to create an opportunity in their very busy lives to meaningfully contribute to the marketing strategy you know will work.
Here’s how you can help them.
Clarify the Process
When it comes to finding content online, people derive value from one simple metric: being helped.
That’s why the best blog posts are clear, easy to consume, and above all else, helpful.
In order to get your executive team in line with this method of blogging, here’s what they have to do.
Edit for Jargon and Empathy
Believe it or not, it’s not easy for most executives to convey empathy. Not because they don’t care or are averse to understanding. But because their success and level of expertise has created distance between themselves and the challenges their customers are facing.
Brothers Chip and Dan Heath discuss this phenomenon as the “curse of knowledge” in their bestseller Made to Stick:
“Here’s the great cruelty of the Curse of Knowledge: The better we get at generating great ideas—new insights and novel solutions—in our field of expertise, the more unnatural it becomes for us to communicate those ideas clearly. That’s why knowledge is a curse.”
So basically, once we know something, it becomes hard for us – and particularly the C-suite – to imagine not knowing it. This is why executives fill their often dense posts with enough industry jargon to appeal only to other experts in the field. As a result, articles like these go right over the head of your audience.
In order to ensure these articles are written through the lens of your prospects, narrow the focus of each article to one challenge they’re having. Share an editorial calendar with topic ideas that anyone on the executive team can claim.
Clear Instruction is Imperative
Don’t give your boss seven topics to choose from. Give him two. And give him a deadline. Send him links to articles that support the topic and assist his writing process. You can even offer to ghostwrite the introduction, as intros are often the most intimidating part for non-writers.
Be prepared to edit out unnecessary jargon. No matter what you say, CEOs like buzzwords; it’s your job to help them sound human in print.
Otherwise the reading experience lacks clarity and leaves readers frustrated.
You know what frustrated readers do? Move on and find something else more helpful to read.
Break it Up
The screens in which we consume content on have gotten progressively smaller since the dot-com bubble in the early 2000s.
Desktops gave way to laptops, which gave way to smartphones and tablets.
In fact, January 2014 was the first time ever that Americans used their smartphones and tablets more than desktops to access the internet.
This is paramount, as it means the presentation of the content you publish is just as important as the content itself. If it’s not easy to consume, people are only a thumb-swipe away from finding content that is.
Unfortunately, executives are fluent in writing business plans and proposals, and often carry out this structure to any blog posts they publish. This results in an extremely dense, long, mobile un-friendly presentation.
It’ll be up to you to edit for readability.
Break up thoughts.
Lead the reader on a journey down the page.
This will further highlight their points and make value easier to discern.
Isn’t this nice?
It’s also much easier to consume on a mobile device, where the majority of people are consuming content.
Blog More Frequently
Remember the frustrated marketing manager I referred to earlier? The one where I slipped into the call?
Well, it turns out that between her two bosses, they’d only blogged eight times between January and November
That’s roughly one blog post per quarter.
While saturation should never be an excuse, if you’re not posting valuable content on a consistent basis, you have no chance of breaking through the noise and rising above the content deluge readers face every day.
You simply cannot denounce the entire practice of blogging due to the fact that it didn’t yield any results after eight infrequent posts.
Consistency is key. According to a study by HubSpot, “business that blog regularly (more than once a week) added subscribers over twice as fast companies who added content once a month.”
This makes managing the editorial process a critical component of your job. Don’t wait for your executive team to come to you with a finished product. Follow up. Ask if they need additional resources.
Consistency will be on you to maintain.
Make a Change
Blogging on an executive level is more about coaching than it is delegation.
They have the expertise you need in order to attract and help your audience; it is your job to put the process in place to help them succeed in doing so.
Once you make it a more empowering and enjoyable experience for the C-suite, you’ll find that blogging frequency will naturally increase.
This will help yield the results that both you and your bosses need.