10 Ways to Convince Your CEO and Management Team to Embrace Social Media

by Marcus Sheridan

We have a serious problem my friends raging in businesses, small and large, across the world—Social Media Buy-In from management.

Never was this so apparent than when I spoke in Toronto this past week at the MeshMarketing conference and among the many emails I received, these two really struck a chord:

Hi Marcus,

It was great meeting you at Meshmarketing yesterday.  My biggest struggle with content marketing is getting buy in from my senior management.  I’ve been pitching this idea at them religiously for a year now but they keep countering that we don’t have the time, the resources, enough subject material, etc.  I am seriously looking forward to hitting them with all the new stuff I’ll be learning from you.

Stay awesome!

Dorothy

Or this one from Alice:

…. I work for a very small company led by a CEO that refuses to see the light when it comes to ANY marketing strategy. I am about to pull my hair out. I came on board about 4 months ago, thinking they were open to new ideas. Nope. Not a one. Doesn’t believe in social media – claims Twitter is a “lie” and that there’s no one really listening. Doesn’t let any content hit the website unless it’s been sanitized to look like a college brochure. Doesn’t force the sales guy (yes, only one) to get on board with me…in short, this is a place I’m looking to get out of as soon as I can.

….. This (marketing)is a brave new world that I came back to and I want to be a part of it. So if THIS place is destined for the slag-heap, I don’t intent to go down with it. The saddest thing of all? I’m a great writer, if I do say so myself. I’ve written everything from plays and short stories to IBM training classes and technical case studies. Ah well. What was that you said about leading a horse to water? They will probably never get it.

Alice

So there you have it. We have a management buy-in problem with respect to social media and inbound marketing, and it’s happening everywhere. It might even be happening in your office.

Alas, what is the solution to dealing with antiquated business leaders who simply ‘don’t get it’?

Great question. Hopefully the following suggestions will be exactly what you’re looking for:

10 Ways You Can Convince Your CEO and Management Team to Embrace Social Media

1. Show them competitor keyword phrases

Here is the key to ‘motivating’ CEOs, especially when they’re a hard-headed and prideful male—Take advantage of their competitive nature.  Personally, I’ve never known a CEO/owner of a company that wasn’t a little bit competitive. With this being the case, it’s time to allow the competition to do the convincing for you.

For example, a great idea is to find a competitor who has done well with ranking for certain keyword phrases in your niche. Once you’ve identified 5 such phrase that your competitor ranks high for, and your company doesn’t, simply walk into your boss’ office and ask him/her if he has a minute to look at what your prospects are finding when they research online.

Next, as him to type in each phrase, and allow him to see that the competition is showing up while he is not. Go through all 5 phrases slowly, and make him search each one closely.

I can assure you by the 5th phrase and search, your boss will likely be ready to punch his desk, and might just be willing to give you what you’re looking for.

Here is an actual snap shot of a few keywords my pool company is crushing the competition with.

2. Show them competitors/peers who have been involved in case studies

Every industry has case studies of people who have crushed it online. Heck, my pool company has been featured in at least 10 different online publications. If you want to see an example of many different niches, see Hubspot’s case studies, where you’ll find an incredible range of business types.

Again, management and CEOs are competitive by nature. Allow this to work in your favor by showing how your company is an online ‘slacker’ compared to these others that are getting so much internet attention.

Case studies like this one are all over the internet

3. Show them general competitive stats

I love this one. Hubspot is especially good at it, as it allows me to compare my website with the website of many others. In fact, check out this awesome screenshot:

With certain analytic tools like this one from Hubspot, you can easily compare your company website with that of another.

By seeing the various ways your company stacks up against others, there is a very good chance you’ll stir some serious emotions within the management team.

4. Analyze with marketing the amount of money that has been spent on other advertising and marketing tactics.

This one takes a little work but is incredibly effective. It’s actually pretty shocking the fact that many CEOs have little to no idea just how much they spend on advertising each year. And when you compare that steep amount with what they could be spending (or not spending) on social media, it suddenly appears more enticing.

As an example of such stats, in 2007 my swimming pool company spent about $250,000 in advertising to achieve a gross sales total of about $4,000,000. This year, in 2011, we’ll spend  $18,000 and reach a gross sales of roughly $5,000,000. (Heck, you can just show your boss that number and then have him call me if you’d like ;-) )

5. Analyze where sales have come from specifically with all other advertising. Is it quantifiable?

This one is very similar to #4 but the fact is, old-school marketing stinks in terms of its ability to be measured and quantified. Unlike social media, blogging, and inbound marketing that can track specific numbers of leads and sales, most outbound marketing methods have a very, very cloudy Return-On-Investment (ROI).

If a CEO realizes that he can finally start to track real numbers, he may just get excited enough to give you a green light.

7. Show real-time conversations happening online about your product.

Just as Alice’s boss in the opening thought Twitter was ‘a lie’, it’s possible to show real-time mentions of products and services happening all over the world, as well as businesses interacting with those real-time mentions.

8. Survey existing customers/previous leads

Have you ever surveyed your existing customer base and asked them if they would appreciate an educational/how-to blog explaining your products and/or services? Or even better, what would happen if you surveyed your leads that didn’t convert into customers and asked them if your lack of a powerful web presence had any effect on their decision not to choose your company? If but one person says they chose one of your competitors because of their website/social media interaction, I can guarantee you’ll then be in business.

9. Hubspot’s Webgrader

Hubspot’s website grader tool was what really started it all for me in March of 2009 when I scored a whopping 17 out of 100 for my company’s website. So mad was I at this low score that I just had to see it rise.

So do yourself a favor and take a moment to try this tool out and if the score isn’t a ‘passing’ grade, print that baby out and neatly set it on your boss’ desk :-).

What's your website score on Webgrader??

10. Utilize the Power of Video

Remember, over 60% of all people are visual learners, and your CEO or management team might fall into this category. If your competitors are making great videos, make sure your boss sees them. Also, take advantage of educational videos that teach proper marketing concepts. As an example, just last week I had a client tell me  her boss gave her the green light to use my services when he was forced to watch my ‘Vision of Inbound Marketing’ Video. (sweet! :-))

So there you have it folks, 10 ways you can attempt to bring your CEO and management team into the 21st century and embrace the social media marketing principles that you already know to be true.

It is my hope that if you’re struggling like Dorothy and Alice you’ll take a moment to see if some of these actions work. And if all else fails, just tell them to call The Sales Lion, and he’ll get’em straight. ;-)

Your Turn:

I’m curious to know if you’ve ever tried any of these suggestions here. If so, what were the results? Also, have you found other effective ways to wake up hard-headed bosses so as to help them see the light that is social media and content marketing?

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