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Set Content Marketing Goals That Matter to Your Business Leaders

Set Content Marketing Goals That Matter to Your Business Leaders

By Steve Smith

In her recent post to the Content Marketing Institute’s website, Kim Moutsos says we content marketers might have only ourselves to blame if we’re not setting (and hitting) goals business leaders care about.

But the terms marketers bandy don’t always play nicely with terms business leaders expect to hear (CMI’s Ann Gynn recently wrote about the expectation mismatch over the term “return” in return on investment.)

Despite the business purpose of content marketing being literally written into its definition, sales leaders or business executives disparage content marketing as “arts and crafts” or wonder about its business value.

That definition? Here it is:

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

The myth that content marketing is some nebulous, feel-good, unmeasured thing is repeated much too often. Moutsos says we should change this “arts-and-crafts” view of content marketing and connect it to the business value. I could not agree more. And I admit to growing tired of the equally nebulous “Return on Engagement.”

See Also: Content Marketing for Nonprofits

Divided by uncommon language

But the terms we marketing types throw around are not always the terms business leaders (I think she’s mainly referring to the bean-counters here) expect to hear.

Consider this goals chart from the CMI's B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends Insights for 2021report.

The one goal nearly everyone claims to have achieved is brand awareness (87%). Among B2C marketers, brand awareness response was also the top response (81%). We see similar results year after year.

Brand awareness is a fine and worthy endeavor. But if it’s your only goal, you may be challenged to explain how awareness ties into an outcome that business leaders care about.

And just saying, “Our content marketing increases brand awareness,” isn’t going to cut it when annual budget time comes around. 

How to align content marketing and business goals

Instead of setting something like brand awareness as THE goal, think of it as one step toward a business goal. And what’s the business goal of content marketing? To drive profitable action.

To be useful (and measurable), content marketing goals must be specific – and match a meaningful business goal your company is working toward.

CMI Founder Joe Pulizzi likes to say businesses care about three things: Sales, savingsand sunshine (his term for customer loyalty, retention, cross-sales, and evangelism).

Choose goals that support one of those three things and you should have no problem communicating how content marketing contributed to the business goals.

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