If you work in-house and are responsible for content strategy, there’s a good chance you’ll come across the same hurdle as many others: getting a budget signed off that matches the extent of your ambition. The first step is to recognise that in many organisations you may have a bit of a battle on your hands, and you need to prepare for that.
The four principles presented in this article will give you the best possible chance to navigate through the process successfully by proactively anticipating reservations, questions and barriers that may stand in your way, meaning a smoother journey to getting the budget you deserve this year.
Lead with measurement, work with your analytics team
Before coming to Builtvisible, I worked in-house running content strategy at Just Eat. During that time, I saw many content pitches that made the honest mistake of focusing on the seemingly exciting angle when it comes to content strategy—the ideas.
Though it might seem like the more inspiring route, the ideas you pitch should largely be there to add colour to your budget pitch. If you’re relying on your ideas alone to secure your budget, you’re falling at the first hurdle. Forecasting and measurement plans should be the foundation of your pitch. You wouldn’t invest your own money without knowing what you’re likely to get in return so why would a brand do it?
Before you prepare your pitch for budget, meet with your analytics team to understand what’s possible in terms of measurement. If you don’t have an analytics team, talk to an expert – it really is that important, as the first question you’ll get when pitching your strategy is undoubtedly ‘how do you plan to measure this?’
Measuring content should go far beyond views and bounce rate, and personally I think it’s essential that measurement plans for content are built by a specialist analytics team, rather than a content team. Again, if you don’t have them, find them! The depth of understanding an analytics expert will have, will help you build robust reports—it’s these reports your directors will care about!
For more information on how to develop measurement plans for content, check out the posts below:
Pitch concepts, not formats
In a similar vein to the point above, many content proposals focus on formats rather than the results the business needs and how to get there.
Particularly with the focus on video production we’ve seen developing over the past few years, many proposals focus on pitching formats rather than outlining how exactly a strategy will impact performance. This focus on format has two downsides. Firstly, the best content ideas aren’t formats, they are concepts. Secondly, focusing on output over results isn’t persuasive enough to secure buy-in from management.
During the proposal process, focus on the results you want or are required to achieve and work backwards from that, rather than diving in and pitching formats.
Get ahead of the game
If you work in-house, one of the greatest stumbling blocks you’ll encounter when building and executing a content strategy is working with other teams.
You may need development teams to get your work live, brand teams to sign off on themes, PR to approve promotion strategy and analytics teams to help you report. Your directors will know this and will want to know how you’re going to ensure you can make things happen. Making it clear to your managers that you have the internal relationships to make sure things get done, will clear up any doubt that budget will be spent in vein.
The solution? Run a pre-pitch session with relevant teams before you go to pitch for budget. Let the teams you wish to collaborate with ask all the questions they need and take the time to talk them through how your proposal is going to benefit the brand. It’s so rare that teams do this before getting budgets signed off, but it’s a sure-fire way to show your budget owner that you’re able to make things happen within the organisation.
Understand where you’re going to get push back
A final tip that should come in handy is ensuring you understand where your manager’s reservations are before the pitch. It’s highly likely that there will be questions, you will have to handle objections and that you’ll get pushed to justify your proposal. Having a session with the budget owner before you submit your proposal, dedicated to understanding if and why they don’t want to invest in content, is vital.
Send a list of questions and use the answers to frame how you present your proposal. It will give you an immediate upper hand. Here are a few questions I’d recommend asking:
What are your reservations, when it comes to investing in content strategy?
This helps you tackle the difficult stuff right off the bat—utterly priceless when pitching for marketing budget!
What does your ideal report look like?
Show them how you’d deliver your reporting and align it with their expectations.
If you don’t invest this budget in content strategy, where will the budget be spent?
This is always interesting to hear and can really help you state your case. When you know which channel you’re up against, it’s far easier to plan which parts of your proposal will be most important.
The key to pitching for any budget is to have all the knowledge available to you to help you develop a proposal that will resonate with the right people. By understanding what metrics matter to your directors, what worries them the most when it comes to investing and demonstrating your internal influence, you’ll be able to put together a proposal that leaves them feeling confident in your recommendations.
If you’re stuck in a rut pitching for budget, want to go big in 2019 or simply want to understand the best way to use what you already have, feel free to get in touch with one of our experts.