If you’re a marketer working in a busy corporate marketing department, or even if you’re a department of one handling all the marketing efforts for a lean startup, you’re probably well versed in basic search engine optimization (SEO), and particularly how to get value out of the granddaddy of them all: Google.
However, your boss and/or founder, or CEO, may not have the same level of knowledge or appreciation. After all, they have not likely worked hands-on in marketing in the last five years or so, immersed in the efforts to make a brand digitally visible to the world.
But, if you want to have executive support for marketing programs and budgets – and let’s face it, that’s crucial – then you’re going to need to sell your CEO on the efforts you’re putting into SEO and content marketing; the very foundation of which has roots in at least an elementary understanding of Google and using that to your advantage.
So, if you’re unsure how to accomplish that, here’s a brief primer that should come in very handy:
Stick to the facts.
As marketers, we tend to leave plenty of room for the silver linings on every opportunity. We’re naturally optimistic because, frankly, if we weren’t we’d probably go crazy. This isn’t a bad thing at all. But it’s also not the way the average CEO looks at the world.
While they’re bound to be energetic and forward thinking, they’re also usually highly analytical and strategic. Their decisions are made on facts, not on gut feelings and optimistic hunches. So, when you prepare to discuss SEO with your CEO, be sure you have plenty of legitimate facts and statistics to back up what you say. They’re not going to want to hear, “it’s bound to work.” You need to be able to confidently say, “this WILL work, and here’s why.”
Present the facts realistically and in a balanced way.
We all know that, with enough digging, we can find stats and examples to support nearly any point we’d like to make. But, for the same reasons noted above, your CEO is going to see through cherry picked stats.
Rather than revealing the outliers (like the startup that achieved front-page ranking in less than two weeks and went on to pull in $1 billion in funding as a result) take the time to research real world results, and present a balanced view that includes potential risks or non-optimal results.
Your CEO will appreciate you providing a more stable foundation on which to base a decision.
Tie your SEO proposal to the overall company strategy.
As a marketer, you may or may not be regularly exposed to overarching company strategies that stretch beyond your department. But, for obvious reasons, your CEO has these broader issues on his mind.
If you can effectively connect your proposed SEO activities to broader strategies and show how you can help the company accomplish valuable goals that have a real impact on the bottom line, you’ll already be 80% of the way to “yes.”
So how do you put all this together and successfully explain Google to your CEO?
Here’s our recommended four-step process:
- Determine exactly what YOU want and need to accomplish with SEO first, and put your strategy in writing.
- Study reputable sources for in-depth, factual information. (For example, HubSpot, Search Engine Watch, and right here at Sprout Content.
- Review the most up-to-date industry business strategies that are on your CEO’s mind.
- Build your presentation being sure to use the balanced facts and figures you’ve unearthed to clearly indicate how your SEO plan will lead to successfully carrying out those important business goals.
Of course, we know it's not always easy. Here at Sprout Content, we specialize in what we call “Performance Content” and one of the most important factors in creating content that performs is making sure the basic process described above is involved throughout the inbound marketing strategy. In addition, we ensure that every inbound tactic we use – including SEO – is tied to measureable goals and that someone is responsible for monitoring their effectiveness against those goals every step of the way.
If you need any help explaining SEO or any other inbound marketing efforts in a way your CEO will understand and appreciate, we’d love to discuss that with you first and give you the framework you need to make it work.