By Stanford Smith, Contributing {grow} Columnist

The meeting room looked like most across corporate America.  The fluorescent hum of recessed lights, the smell of 1-hour old Starbucks coffee, and the fake maple veneer conference table set the mood for another marketing meeting.

It’s your turn to update the team on your social media efforts for the last week.

Unfortunately the news is mixed.

You can’t seem to attract the right audience.  Content on the blog is anemic due to half-hearted writing efforts from various divisions.  Declining engagement numbers whisper of a blog that is failing to gain traction.

As you open your file folder you swear you hear Jeffrey, the traditional media superstar, mumble “dead-man walking” before you begin.

You clear your throat, stare intently at the CEO, and begin.

“Our blog is the hub of our social business initiative.  It plays a leading role in telling our company’s story.  It shows prospects and customers alike that we are a business that matters.  It’s the most cost-efficient way to tell a deep story about our products.  It’s critical for finding and cultivating brand evangelists.”

Jeffrey straightens in his chair, ever alert for the other shoe to drop.

You nervously re-adjust your water bottle a centimeter to the left and continue.

“But, every indicator shows that our blog, perhaps our most important marketing asset is dying”. You pause for blink waiting for the news to sink in.

After a moment you continue…

“And Maria” , your CEO straightens in her chair, “You are the only one that can save it.  If you choose.  Or we can continue to run the blog like an after-school project and watch a year’s worth of investment swirl down the toilet.”

The fluorescent lights hum their annoying applause.  Everyone unconsciously shifts their bodies away from you.

“Ok…”, Maria says, “Let’s do this”

Leaning onto her elbow, she narrows her eyes and say,

“Convince me.”

Today we’ll talk about what you could and should say.

If your corporate blog is dying a slow, anonymous death then you can plan on having this conversation.  Let’s make sure your prepared.

The Objections:
First you need to work your CEO’s most likely objections.  The common ones are:

“I Have No Time”

CEOs are beyond busy.  They are responsible for the entire business not just marketing.  They rely on their marketing team to understand and execute the marketing strategy.  The last thing on their mind is producing content for a blog.

In fact, they may get a little irritated by having yet another “to-do” placed on their list.  You must be prepared to meet this objection.

“Our Customers Don’t Read Blogs”

There is an ongoing debate in many companies around the social expertise of customers.  Many CEOs are skeptical that their customers have the time to read and comment on blogs.   While these executives are fine with a placeholder effort for their company they are waiting for news that their suspicions have been confirmed.

These executives have to be shown that customers not only read blogs but make business decisions based on what they read.

I’m Not A Writer

It’s known that Public Speaking is the #1 fear of most business executives.  I believe that “Public Writing” is the 2nd.  The fear of writing an article from scratch terrifies many CEOs and goads them into rationalizing their fear with other objections.

Even though you may have a bullet-proof argument, be aware that your executive will most likely be wrestling with their secret fear of writing.  You’ll need to factor this into your thinking when making your case.

Kicking Your CEO Off The Fence

Now that you know what is rolling around in the mind of your CEO, it’s time to kick them off the fence.  The good news is that if you already have a blog then you can take comfort that the CEO is open to making it better. All they need is a reality check.

Here’s how to administer some tough love…

Show them what prospects are saying

Your prospects are talking about you and your competitors on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other blogs.  They are asking for advice, getting recommendations and referring others to websites.

I recommend that you use a tool such as SocialMention.com to start compiling a digest of these conversations.  Since your CEOs is the top salesperson and cheerleader for your company; they will hate not being a part of these conversations.

Ask your CEO this: “What impact would it have to offer a blog post written by you that answers our prospect’s top concerns or objections?”

For good measure, I would push a little further and inquire -

“Imagine the leadership we could demonstrate in the marketplace by being the first to show our CEO rolling their sleeves and engaging with our audience?”

Show them what the competition is saying

 

The Social Media party is in full swing.  Almost every company is trying to take advantage of the new channel.  It’s extremely persuasive to show your CEO that the world isn’t standing still.

Show her what the competition is tweeting or putting on Facebook.  Analyze your competition’s blogging efforts and provide a hard-hitting evaluation of their performance.  Paint your CEO a picture of how social media can quietly build competitive momentum and loyalty.

Pull examples of other companies with blogging CEOs.  Show how these executives are championing their brand, engaging with customers, and how they are leading by example.  Take the time to find good examples from a variety of different industries.

Next…

 

Show them what customers are saying

 

Go to search.twitter.com and search for your company name.  Repeat this exercise on Google and examine the results using the “blog” link in the sidebar.  You can also use SocialMention.com (free) or Radian6 to dig a little deeper.

Your goal is to create a snapshot of how your customers are talking about your company’s product and brand.

These customers are looking for cues that your company cares about them.  The #1 person for the job is your CEO.

Quick Ways to Get Your CEO Writing

If your CEO is already a writer then laying out your evidence will probably push them in the right direction.  Don’t be too critical of their initial posts.  Let them get into the groove of writing and watching their work get published.  Most of all don’t let them burn themselves out. One post a month is perfect for a new CEO Blogger.

On the other hand, if your CEO isn’t a writer then you will need to do a little (or a lot more) hand-holding.

Try this:

  • Create a clear 12-month editorial calendar: An editorial calendar takes the “what will I write” stress off your chief executive. Work on the calendar with your CEO to make sure that their priorities and concerns are baked into the final product.
  • Repurpose Current Communications: Your CEO probably already writes regular emails or columns for the internal newsletter.  Offer to review and repurpose these existing communications for the company blog
  • Ghostwriting: I am a fan of ghostwriting.  The benefits of CEO blogging is to great to get dogmatic about how the final post is made.  I recommend finding someone inside the company that can create a draft that edited and approved by the CEO.
  • One Post a Month: In the beginning, one post a month is fine.  Make sure that your CEO understands that the team is still executing the 99% of the work, but one post is needed to move the blog in the right direction.  In my experience, most CEOs end up writing more because they learn to enjoy the process.

Ready?

I’m very interested in hearing your perspective on CEO Blogging.  Is it worthwhile?  Do you think that CEOs see the benefit of being the social voice of their company’s marketing efforts?

Stanford Smith is a hopelessly addicted angler, father of 3 hellions, and the wild-eyed muse behind PushingSocial.com. Follow him on Twitter to get his latest unorthodox tips for getting your blog noticed and promoted.

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