Your number one challenge as a B2B marketer today: evangelising the new dynamics of content marketing to the folks who grew up on old-style marketing.

There are two kinds of B2B marketers. Those who have noticed that B2B marketing has changed dramatically in the last few years and those who haven’t.

The problem for those of us who have noticed: most of us are reporting to people who haven’t.

Think about it: the most senior B2B marketers are generally over 40 years old. Maybe over 50. So the vast majority of their careers were spent in old-school, crop-spraying mode. And they were good at it,  or they wouldn’t have got all those promotions.

For those of us who are turned on by the New B2B Marketing (content marketing plus revenue performance management plus analytics) this internal barrier has become our single most important challenge.

I don’t mean that rhetorically. I mean it literally: your single most important challenge is taking your bosses (and other stakeholders) with you on the road to data-driven content marketing.

If you fail at this, it’s no use being great at all the tricky, tactical things. Your marketing will never hit the market.

But 99% of the new B2B zealots we’ve met tend to ignore this barrier and just start running full speed ahead with their new strategies. At some point, they present their exciting new plans to the Dinosaurs and get body-slammed back to square one.

I can relate.

As a B2B marketing agency, we fall into the trap, too. Our direct client contact is a convert but their bosses don’t really now what they’re up to. And it’s our job to help correct that.

Part of the problem is that we all prefer doing actual work to explaining what we’re doing. The explaining part feels like a needless waste of time. We resent it and see it as an obstacle to doing our job.

But, in truth, it’s not an obstacle. It IS our job.

And today, it’s more important than ever.

So here are…

Eight tips for selling content marketing to your dinosaurs

1. Sell the need for change

Nobody likes to change the way they do things. To sell in content marketing you have to show that the way you’re doing things now is failing.

You can use general industry data for this, but the best data is your own: show your bosses:

  • How your email/direct mail/ advertising response rates are falling.
  • How your PPC or SEO efforts are flat-lining.
  • How your cost per lead is rising.

If you can, show them the implications: how these trends will make a bigger and bigger impact on revenues (and/or costs).

2. Show what works

Show them examples of revenue-driven content marketing by any of the best practitioners (the marketing automation vendors tend to be really good at it, not surprisingly).

Don’t just show them a sexy eBook, show as much of the campaign as you can. And show whatever results you can find -– ROI data if they’ve published case studies or things like social shares or Google rank if that’s all you can see.

If you’re getting out-ranked on key search terms, chances are the companies out-ranking you are using content marketing to do it. Show the dinosaurs.

3. Start small: run one experiment

No one will want to shift the whole budget without some first-hand experience so don’t try to win the whole budget, just do one thing well.

Start with a single piece of content, promote it well and…

4. Harness your data

You need to compare the traffic generated by your content marketing with normal traffic. And show how the engagement and conversions are much better for the content-driven traffic (if this isn’t true, you published the wrong content).

5. Set targets

Show how you intend to generate revenue by using content to fill the top of the funnel and to move people along, stage by stage. Show how, at a given conversion rate for each stage, investment X will deliver return Y. (Where Y is greater than X!).

Agree some specific metrics that you’ll be tracking.

6. Report regularly

Share top line data for the metrics you’ve agreed regularly.

Keep it simple and explain the changes, why did stuff work, why did other stuff fail,  and what are you going to do about it? One page. Monthly at a minimum.

7. Manage expectations

If your dinosaurs are like most marketers, they should start to get quite excited by the new things you’re recommending. That’s fantastic  But you do need to be clear that content marketing is a long-term play with lots and lots of learning along the way.

You may also need to bring the sales department along with you and show them the difference between a properly nurtured, sales-ready lead and the junk they’ve been wasting their time on to date. 

You need to earn their trust so they don’t leap on every person who visits a web page or downloads an eBook. You also need them to recycle leads back to you that turned out to not be ready to buy yet.

8. Prepare for your new job

You’re either about to get a great promotion (hey, you deserve it) or the dinosaurs will tear you to bits — in which case you’ll find a much better job where they understand this stuff.

Funnel 2012, Econsultancy’s one-day B2B marketing event, takes place at the Emirates Stadium, London on November 13.