Overt or Covert: What’s Your Content Culture?


March 31, 2015

One of the questions I’m asked most often is, “How do I convince my boss/CMO/executive to do content marketing?”

I tell these people what every great sales person knows – you don’t convince anyone of anything. Despite what the old adage says, it can be nearly impossible to lead a horse to water, much less teach him or her how to drink.

This drives those wanting to create a culture of content nearly batty. But what do you do if you’re wanting to spawn an environment that instills shared values around content?

Show, don’t tell
This is basic psychology for people of any age. And as content marketers, this is where your storytelling chops really come in handy. Don’t justify things to death. Show how you’d like to run a small pilot program and how it’s tied to bigger business objectives. What does it look like, feel like, sound like? Marketers have to get that initial first step before they can earn any kind of broad acceptance for creating content-driven brand experiences.

If you’re just starting down the content road, the response that you get back will probably lead you to one of two approaches.

This sounds like the real deal. We don’t have to sneak around or whisper about content marketing. We can label it and talk about it with wild abandon. That doesn’t mean that everyone gets it, so you still need to spend time educating people about content marketing and how it fits into the overall marketing structure and performance.

But, nicely, since you have buy-in for a content program, you’re able to talk about priorities and where to invest. You can create a collaborative strategy that has content supporting larger business objectives.  You’ll be able to organize a cross-functional team that has a greater interest and a shared focus around developing a portfolio of valuable and delightful experiences.

Content becomes a recognized function of the business, and you have a fundamental level of trust and credibility.

Changing long-held beliefs in some companies can be way harder than it is in others. In some engineering-driven B2B companies, getting buy-in for something that isn’t sales driven can be a big risk. Except that changing these fundamental belief is the first step.  This is where your pockets of inspiration come into play – you don’t have to have everyone interested and on board before the boat leaves the dock.

If your culture is more of a covert operation – for whatever reasons – it doesn’t mean that you still can’t make tremendous headway. It just means that you’ll need to go about it in a roundabout way until you have some successes to show.

Where do you start? Come to someone’s rescue. And one of the easiest places to start is with sales because you already have relationship with them….right? (judgmental tone intentional…)

What problems are they trying to solve for customers that they need help with? What’s the one brand they been trying to crack but haven’t been able to? What information will help them make a customer’s life easier or help them do their job easier? I can guarantee you that if sales likes the work that you’re doing, they’ll help you grab the ear of management for your covert content operation.

Be the dude on the hill
It doesn’t matter which route you take, just realize that YOU may need to be the “dude on the hill.” You may need to be the dude (or dudette) who starts the content dance that everyone else joins in. People don’t like being the first but if you’re going to create a culture of content, you have to start someplace.

Why not with you?


About Carla

Carla Johnson Innovation Creativity Speaker Author

Carla Johnson helps leaders who are often paralyzed by traditional thinking. They suffer from slow growth, an eroding competitive advantage, low employee engagement, and depleted investor confidence. Their teams lack purpose and progress and constantly battle a resistance to change and new ideas.

As the world’s leading innovation architect, Carla’s spent 20 years helping leaders shatter limits and discover undiscovered possibilities. Through years of research, she’s developed a simple, scalable 5-step process that teaches people how to consistently produce inspired ideas that lead to uncommon outcomes.