Last week I spoke about the role a business leader’s identity plays in improving a business’ marketing.

I urged marketing directors or teams to think about how they can make great marketing – and their marketing plan – a part of the business leader’s identity. 

This week, I want to look at engaging the business leader in the content marketing process. 

Of course, the tactics depend on the size of the business, the size of the marketing or content team, the maturity of the content function in-house and the business leader themselves. BUT, variables aside, content always works best with buy-in from the top. So how do you get that buy-in, and how do you ensure it becomes a help, not a hindrance?

Firstly, they need to understand the strategy.

Those at the top should turn up for the ‘magic’ – the big strategic conversations and key campaigns. They’ll want to see how the business goals filter down into marketing and comms decisions. They need to know how this content campaign feeds into the bigger picture, and they’re always interested in the goals of the campaign or strategy.

Problems arise when the marketing team are trying to interpret what the business leader thinks. Getting buy-in as early as possible is crucial to the success or failure of a content push. 

In our experience, leaders are also big picture thinkers. They hold the vision for the business. They have plenty of ideas, but often, these ideas are unformed or underdeveloped. Strategy chats can help tease those ideas into something more tangible. It also allows for broader creative thought and, to a business leader often distracted by the daily whirlwind, these strategic workshops are an excellent opportunity for them to work through their ideas. 

After the ‘big stuff’, the nitty gritty – the process of producing, publishing and sharing content – needs to be the preserve of the marketing director and team.

However, you will need to give regular updates to keep them in the loop.

We suggest a monthly activity report and a quarterly meeting, to talk about the current performance and what exciting things you’ve got lined up. Note: you don’t need to include every metric under the sun in the monthly report. Ascertain the most crucial stats for the CEO and relay them.

Finally, resist the temptation to get them involved in content creation. They know a lot about the industry, they often have a presence in the industry too, but they’re also spinning 1,001 plates. 

You can’t rely on your business leader to write a regular column, for instance. However, they should be available for insight into some of the content. Getting them to record a video to an annual report, or getting their thoughts on individual articles is fine.

But it’s much easier if they know why they’re doing it. They shouldn’t be caught off guard with a piece of content you ask them to work on. By engaging them at the start and banging the drum for why this stuff is important, you’re much more likely to get the insight you need on a more ad-hoc basis.

It also helps if you can point to great results, of course.

You might be trying to attract more customers, but perhaps the most important customer is the business leader themselves. Sell to them, and the rest is easy*

*OK, not easy. But certainly easier.