Why Content Marketing Needs A Revenue Quota

Tough times: the company’s revenues were down, and the marketing budget had shrunk. I knew we could produce revenue with content marketing, but I didn’t know how much. And I couldn’t prove it.

So I went to my boss and said, “If we could hire a manager of demand generation, I know our existing content marketing would generate revenue. I’m sure we can do it. I just need you to approve a headcount.”

Although my boss was skeptical, he didn’t say, “No.” Instead he said, “Go talk to the CEO. Ask him for a headcount.”

So I talked to the CEO. I said, “I know we can generate revenue from the content marketing we’re doing already. But, to get there, I need a manager of demand generation.”

He listened and asked, “If I say yes to the hire, how much revenue will you generate next year?”

“$1 million,” I said. That number, I pulled out of the air. I hadn’t planned to name a specific target.

Once I said it, I could feel uncertainty creep into my gut. Although I’d worked in marketing for years, I’d never had a revenue quota before.

Sales is used to quotas. But marketing’s not.

So taking on a quota in marketing is a little scary. And it’s bracing. Although I didn’t know exactly how we’d do it, I was absolutely confident that we could.

“If you can generate a million the first year, ok, then hire him. If you don’t …” his voice trailed off. So we hired a new demand generation manager.

The $1 million quota catalyzed content marketing and propelled us to the next level. As soon as we had a quota, we pulled out all the stops to hit the goal.

We wrote the $1 million revenue quota into the company’s marketing plan, and into our own annual performance plans. Collectively and individually, we were on the hook. A quota for content marketing focused us so well. For a time, every meeting was mainly about how to hit our quota.

What tools would we need to hit the quota? We added marketing automation and website analytics. We couldn’t get everything we wanted, such as the funding to do a customer relationship management (CRM) system. So instead we did a work-around.

What support would our demand gen manager need from the marketing team? We beefed up our content marketing strategy, our messaging, our editorial calendar, and our monthly review of website performance.

Here are ideas you can use to sharpen up content marketing and hit your revenue quota:

  • Focus on market segments that the sales force doesn’t reach.
  • Look for markets with quicker buying cycles. We found a market that made buying decisions faster than our mainstream customers, in 6 to 12 months instead of the usual 18 to 30 months.
  • Identify existing products that the sales force does not actively promote. (Our sales force focused on new products, rather than existing products).
  • Help before you sell. Educate buyers about how to solve their problems.
  • Ignore organizational boundaries that might slow you down. Find product managers who need help and will support you with their time and expertise. Draft people to fill skill gaps – in our case, we needed to add expertise in inside sales and deep technology marketing.
  • Address chronic problems. For example, find out who answers the company’s 800 number and how well can they speak with customers. Call the 800 number to find out yourself.
  • Learn from analytics what’s working and not working on the website. Do monthly tune-ups. Apply what you learn to next month’s content.
  • Employ a thought-provoking content strategy. We invested in content for electric utilities, a non-traditional market. Here’s a case history.

Thanks to focused work from the whole team, a year later, we had generated $2 million in revenue. We proved content marketing can generate revenue from large-dollar, carefully considered BtoB purchases. Even more than I’d imagined.

The second year, we generated $3 million in revenue.

Content marketing really works. I believe, it works even better with a revenue quota.

Isn’t it time to put a revenue quota into your 2015 content marketing strategy?

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