5 Tips for Delegating Upward as a Marketing Manager

Jamie Cartwright
Posted by Jamie Cartwright on December 1, 2015


Take a look at these numbers.

 74% of in-house marketers who manage content for their companies are between the ages of 18-35

66% of that same group has less than 5 years of experience. 

Typical titles for these marketers include Marketing Manager, Content Manager, Inbound Marketing Specialist, SEO Manager, and PR Specialist. (Data from Moz’ 2014 Industry Survey)

In other words, the vast majority of people who manage online marketing content are young, relatively inexperienced, and typically at the middle or bottom of their organizations, with just a few—if any—direct supervising responsibilities.

But more importantly…

These Inbound Marketers Are…

People who directly manage entire external functions of a company’s marketing—and I might add, increasingly important functions—such as the business’s blog. In general, these managers often edit content, manage website copy, and generally determine how visitors interact with the company online.

Sometimes, they might work with a social media coordinator to inspire and grow large online audiences. In many cases, they’re the leading pioneers of inbound marketing in their organizations and are working long, extra hours to prove this approach works.

The point is, these marketers have power—even if they don’t control budget—and every day they’re building influence in their respective companies by collaborating, improving the ways in which they create content, and emphasizing the importance of inbound marketing with their fellow staffers.

Still, Marketing Managers Lean Heavily on Higher Ups

As influential as marketing managers are, they typically don’t have the strategic decision-making power they hope to have one day. With limited experience, they might have been hired for their digital or writing chops, but they don’t have the in-depth industry experience to be the top marketing dog yet.

So, they lean heavily on their Directors and VPs of Marketing for a guiding vision and strategy behind the marketing plans they execute.

In marketing content, they also look to the higher ups for editorial support and messaging strategy. Senior leaders usually have the experience, customer knowledge, and business perspective necessary to create content that’s more helpful to prospective customers.

There’s also evidence that senior leaders should be part of marketing content creation directly. C-level leaders and VPs who are writing, producing opinions, and garnering media attention are critical assets to rapid marketing growth. Read more about that in this article, "4 'Games' to Play with Top Executives Who Don’t Hit Their Blog Deadlines."

There’s Just One Problem: How Are Marketing Managers Supposed to Delegate Upward? 

If you’re the marketing manager and you need the input of your boss to do your job well, you’re faced with several challenges.

Senior leaders are busy people. And generally, they’re not used to having to work directly on tactical-level work, like content writing. That’s what they’ve hired you to do. If you want editorial and writing work from them, you’re going to need to be creative in encouraging them to get the work done.

That’s what I’d like to help you solve: Delegating upward. Many inbound marketers today know they need to do it better, and yet, too often, organizational hierarchy and poor workflow processes get in the way. Here are 5 ways to get results from your higher ups.

5 Tips for Delegating Marketing Tasks to Senior Leaders 

1. Get Their Buy-in and Keep It

If there's strategic value in having your C-suite and VPs involved with online content creation (blogging, etc.), then your VP of Marketing or Sales should already understand that. If they don't, then that's generally a pretty good sign you don't have enough organizational buy-in for inbound marketing overall.

The key with delegating regular tasks to senior leaders is to remind them of the value of their participation and get their buy-in. Don't pretend you're actually delegating. Instead, you're selling your boss on why he/she should help you out.

2. Assign Tasks as Part of Progress Reporting

Critical to maintaining buy-in on senior participation in content marketing is making sure tasks are tied to progress reporting. If you report on what your marketing efforts have achieved (or failed to achieve), then the VP/director of marketing in your organization will see, regularly, why it's important for him/her to stay involved.

If you assign tasks for your boss that you can discuss or point to during progress reporting, that can be a great way of making sure they remember the importance of their continued focus.

3. Do 50+% of Their Work for Them

Senior leaders generally never have long hours to devote to content marketing, even if they enjoy it. So, take the majority of the work off their back.

We suggest outlining and drafting as much as possible when assigning tasks to busy leaders in your organization. Templates can also help make writing tasks more straightforward.

In some cases, bosses would rather have their writing be 100% ghost-written. It's a little bit less honest, but if that's the case, then you just need to get their eyes on it before publication—easy.

4. Play To Their Ego

VPs of Marketing and Sales are notorious for wanting to get messaging absolutely right. That's part of why they're in the position they're in. So, play to that ego.

Make sure they understand that if they don't write it, nobody else will be able to replace that hole. Stroke their ego to make sure they know their work is valued and irreplaceable. Especially when you have competitors in content marketing, leaders want to make sure their counterparts in other companies aren't "out-thought-leadering" them. If that's the case in your industry, use it to your advantage.

5. Cut Your Losses on Tasks They Simply Don't Like to Do

The worst mistake a marketing manager can make when trying to involve higher-up leaders in content is to continuously assign tasks their seniors don't enjoy.

If your boss doesn't like to be on video, find an alternative route of getting video content. If the VP of Marketing has a phobia of writing (I'm being ironic there), don't continue to make him write. Instead, find a different way of getting their voice in content—e.g. video blogs, podcasts, interviews, etc.

Don't Stop Delegating

Content is king—not the CEO of your company. Make sure that you continue to delegate upward to get the best content possible. Most top-level marketing and sales people understand strategically that they should be involved in content, but on a practical level, they have trouble prioritizing it. Don't let that failing bring down your content quality.

If you need that senior level perspective to sell your products and services, you just do. Hopefully these 5 tips help improve your task-assigning process. Please add your own hints and tips in the comments below!

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Topics: Content Marketing

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