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Here’s How To Ask for the Salary You Want

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Here's How To Ask for the Salary You Want

Should you be paid more for what you do?

Over half of content marketers (54%) believe their compensation should be higher, according to CMI’s Content Marketing Career and Salary Outlook 2023 (registration required).

And now’s a good time to ask – the latest CMI B2B research found content marketing’s importance in the business has grown.

Of course, it’s also a tricky time to ask, as businesses face higher prices and external economic pressures. As Tom McMullen, senior client partner at Korn Ferry, has said: “This is the most turbulent compensation environment I’ve seen in my 30-year career.”

So how can you move from thinking you deserve a raise to seeing a bigger number on your paycheck? Do your research, prep your case, and present it effectively.

To get the raise you deserve, research #ContentMarketing salaries, pack your case with results, and practice your pitch, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Do external research

To prepare to make your case for a salary increase, find out what others in your industry and similar positions earn. CMI’s salary research found the median salary for U.S.-based content marketers who work for an employer is $82,738.

That number is just a starting point. Dig deeper to understand how experience and role affect compensation, too.

CMI’s salary research found salaries vary based on experience, ranging from $51,190 for those with up to seven years of experience to $96,034 for those with more than 15 years of experience.

CMI divided content marketing roles into three categories – hands-on, manager, and high-level. The median salary for hands-on content marketers is $58,790, while at the executive level, the median wage amounts to $111,851.

For more information on salaries specific to your role, explore job listings on platforms like LinkedIn and Indeed.

Another option is to use the salary tool from the recruiting agency Creative Circle. When you select a job title and location, the tool reveals both the average pay and the desired salary based on what candidates say they want. All the data comes from Creative Circle’s clients and job applicants.

Research role-specific salaries on @LinkedIn, @Indeed, or with a salary tool like the one from @Creative_Circle, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Get ready internally

With the external benchmark comparisons in hand, you’re ready to look inward. Evaluate two key things: the general business environment and content marketing’s impact on the business.

If your employer is doing well, asking for a raise makes sense. Salary increases may be possible even if your company has been going through layoffs or shrinking staff sizes. But you’ll need to think critically.

If the company isn’t bringing in enough revenue to pay the bills, forget about asking for a raise. If the company is cutting back for a leaner operation and your role has become more critical, it could be a good time to ask for a salary increase.

Now it’s time to do a self-check.

Dominic Lill is an SEO manager at Trafiki Ecommerce who successfully negotiated salary increases in his previous role as a content editor/marketer. He suggests asking yourself these questions:

  • Have my responsibilities grown?
  • Have I become more productive?
  • What areas of my work could I improve? (Anticipating negatives helps you prepare responses to them.)

With that external, internal, and personal research, you’re almost ready to make the ask. But here’s an idea you should consider long before you want the raise.

Build a bench of supporters

Steve Rose, vice president at Intent, offers a tip to help you prepare your case: “Aggressively cultivate your support base. Having someone else advocate for you can go a long way toward demonstrating your value.”

But don’t wait to develop your advocates until you’re ready to ask for the salary bump. “Build these ties proactively over time,” Steve says. “If they’re comfortable, ask one or two of them to send a statement to your boss about your progress and improvement.”

Another helpful approach is to keep your own bullet list-style document where you paste positive feedback, metrics, and results from your work. Then, when you’re ready to argue for a salary increase (or update your resume), pull the most important and relevant bullets into your formal request.

Prepare for the conversation

Even a well-researched request can feel nerve-wracking. “Most people tremble at approaching their boss about a wage boost,” says Vaibhav Kakkar, CEO of Digital Web Solutions.

Think about how you’ll introduce the topic, then rehearse the conversation.

Vaibhav offers this prompt to get you started: “As you’re aware, I just finished my (X) year with (organization). I am eager to continue working toward the company’s goals in my current position and expand my duties. On that basis, let’s talk about my pay.”

Make a specific request within the realistic possibilities. Otherwise, the employer might offer a raise amount lower than you wanted.

Base your requested amount on your earlier research. Think about the actual percentage increase. If you retain the same responsibilities, a 3% raise is typical. “Anything over 5% is remarkable,” Vaibhav says.

If your duties have expanded or the circumstances have changed (i.e., a job with minimal travel becomes a job with 50% travel), a higher rate of 10 to 20% might be possible, he says.

If you retain the same role and responsibilities but your research points to a wide gap between the average standard industry rate and your compensation, plan for a more extensive conversation. The industry gap likely exists for other roles, too. A significant change in your salary likely would lead your employer to need to address other underpaid positions, too.

Your supervisor is unlikely to approve your request during your initial conversation. They may need to revisit their budget, reflect on what you’ve shared, or have a conversation with their boss.

Set follow-up expectations at the end of the conversation, says Adam Crossling, head of marketing at Zenzero. He suggests some language to use: “Is it OK if I check back with you two weeks from now if I haven’t heard anything?”

Aim for yes, but plan for no

Work for a “yes,” but plan for a “no” or “not now.” That way, if you’re told the company doesn’t have the money, you’ll be ready to propose an alternative solution.

Josh Pelletier, chief marketing officer of BarBend, says: “To move up the ranks, you may ask for something other than a pay raise, such as more training or a chance to participate in special projects.”

As Josh explains, “Mortgages are paid with salary, but careers are built on terms. And those are words to live by if your boss is unable to increase your salary.”

To move up the ranks, ask for something other than a pay raise, says @barbendnews CMO Josh Pelletier via @AnnGynn @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Salary success story

Content marketer Allison Gagliardi asked for 10% raises at two previous employers. Both times, she got a salary bump.

Allison says she made her case to two employers, both internet marketing agencies, in the annual review process.

With her first employer, she had been a content editor for three years and had received the annual 3% raises most everybody received. Then she made her case and received a 10% increase. She took a similar tactic a few years later as a senior content manager at another agency. In her first-year performance review there, she asked for and received a 10% raise.

How did she make the successful presentations? She wrote a letter outlining her compensation request and listed her accomplishments to date in a bullet format. She signed the letter – with an actual pen – and put it in a two-pocket folder. In the other pocket, she included emails/letters from clients and co-workers singing her praises. “It’s proof they just can’t argue with,” Allison says.

Based on her success, Allison offers a few tips for making your presentation:

  • Ask for a percent increase vs. a dollar figure. Sometimes a percentage request is “easier on the eyes.”
  • Use numbers to impress. Include percentages, hours worked, money saved, people hired, etc.
  • Be ready with a consolation prize. Be prepared with a counteroffer such as, “I’m hearing you can’t meet my request this year. I think adding five paid-time-off days to my account is comparable.”

Be creative about your consolation prize suggestions. Allison offers some suggestions: a bonus on achieving a specific benchmark, permission to bring a pet into the office on certain days, a standing desk, an air card (for Wi-Fi wherever you go), an improved title, a continuing education plan, or even control of the AC unit in your department (yes, for real).

If you don’t get the salary you want? Consider moving on. A recent Pew Research Center study found that people who switched jobs were more likely to get real wage increases (after accounting for inflation) than people who stayed with the same employer. And remember, it’s sometimes easier to negotiate a higher offer than a raise.

Are you ready to make your case for a higher salary? Share your success stories and tips in the comments.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

You ask the head of marketing how the team is doing and get a giant thumbs up. 👍

“Our MQLs are up!”

“Website conversion rates are at an all-time high!”

“Email click rates have never been this good!”

But when you ask the head of sales the same question, you get the response that echoes across sales desks worldwide — the leads from marketing suck. 

If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone. The issue of “leads from marketing suck” is a common situation in most organizations. In a HubSpot survey, only 9.1% of salespeople said leads they received from marketing were of very high quality.

Why do sales teams hate marketing-generated leads? And how can marketers help their sales peers fall in love with their leads? 

Let’s dive into the answers to these questions. Then, I’ll give you my secret lead gen kung-fu to ensure your sales team loves their marketing leads. 

Marketers Must Take Ownership

“I’ve hit the lead goal. If sales can’t close them, it’s their problem.”

How many times have you heard one of your marketers say something like this? When your teams are heavily siloed, it’s not hard to see how they get to this mindset — after all, if your marketing metrics look strong, they’ve done their part, right?

Not necessarily. 

The job of a marketer is not to drive traffic or even leads. The job of the marketer is to create messaging and offers that lead to revenue. Marketing is not a 100-meter sprint — it’s a relay race. The marketing team runs the first leg and hands the baton to sales to sprint to the finish.

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via GIPHY

To make leads valuable beyond the vanity metric of watching your MQLs tick up, you need to segment and nurture them. Screen the leads to see if they meet the parameters of your ideal customer profile. If yes, nurture them to find out how close their intent is to a sale. Only then should you pass the leads to sales. 

Lead Quality Control is a Bitter Pill that Works

Tighter quality control might reduce your overall MQLs. Still, it will ensure only the relevant leads go to sales, which is a win for your team and your organization.

This shift will require a mindset shift for your marketing team: instead of living and dying by the sheer number of MQLs, you need to create a collaborative culture between sales and marketing. Reinforce that “strong” marketing metrics that result in poor leads going to sales aren’t really strong at all.  

When you foster this culture of collaboration and accountability, it will be easier for the marketing team to receive feedback from sales about lead quality without getting defensive. 

Remember, the sales team is only holding marketing accountable so the entire organization can achieve the right results. It’s not sales vs marketing — it’s sales and marketing working together to get a great result. Nothing more, nothing less. 

We’ve identified the problem and where we need to go. So, how you do you get there?

Fix #1: Focus On High ROI Marketing Activities First

What is more valuable to you:

  • One more blog post for a few more views? 
  • One great review that prospective buyers strongly relate to?

Hopefully, you’ll choose the latter. After all, talking to customers and getting a solid testimonial can help your sales team close leads today.  Current customers talking about their previous issues, the other solutions they tried, why they chose you, and the results you helped them achieve is marketing gold.

On the other hand, even the best blog content will take months to gain enough traction to impact your revenue.

Still, many marketers who say they want to prioritize customer reviews focus all their efforts on blog content and other “top of the funnel” (Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation) efforts. 

The bottom half of the growth marketing funnel (Retention, Reputation, and Revenue) often gets ignored, even though it’s where you’ll find some of the highest ROI activities.

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Most marketers know retaining a customer is easier than acquiring a new one. But knowing this and working with sales on retention and account expansion are two different things. 

When you start focusing on retention, upselling, and expansion, your entire organization will feel it, from sales to customer success. These happier customers will increase your average account value and drive awareness through strong word of mouth, giving you one heck of a win/win.

Winning the Retention, Reputation, and Referral game also helps feed your Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation activities:

  • Increasing customer retention means more dollars stay within your organization to help achieve revenue goals and fund lead gen initiatives.
  • A fully functioning referral system lowers your customer acquisition cost (CAC) because these leads are already warm coming in the door.
  • Case studies and reviews are powerful marketing assets for lead gen and nurture activities as they demonstrate how you’ve solved identical issues for other companies.

Remember that the bottom half of your marketing and sales funnel is just as important as the top half. After all, there’s no point pouring leads into a leaky funnel. Instead, you want to build a frictionless, powerful growth engine that brings in the right leads, nurtures them into customers, and then delights those customers to the point that they can’t help but rave about you.

So, build a strong foundation and start from the bottom up. You’ll find a better return on your investment. 

Fix #2: Join Sales Calls to Better Understand Your Target Audience

You can’t market well what you don’t know how to sell.

Your sales team speaks directly to customers, understands their pain points, and knows the language they use to talk about those pains. Your marketing team needs this information to craft the perfect marketing messaging your target audience will identify with.

When marketers join sales calls or speak to existing customers, they get firsthand introductions to these pain points. Often, marketers realize that customers’ pain points and reservations are very different from those they address in their messaging. 

Once you understand your ideal customers’ objections, anxieties, and pressing questions, you can create content and messaging to remove some of these reservations before the sales call. This effort removes a barrier for your sales team, resulting in more SQLs.

Fix #3: Create Collateral That Closes Deals

One-pagers, landing pages, PDFs, decks — sales collateral could be anything that helps increase the chance of closing a deal. Let me share an example from Lean Labs. 

Our webinar page has a CTA form that allows visitors to talk to our team. Instead of a simple “get in touch” form, we created a drop-down segmentation based on the user’s challenge and need. This step helps the reader feel seen, gives them hope that they’ll receive real value from the interaction, and provides unique content to users based on their selection.

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So, if they select I need help with crushing it on HubSpot, they’ll get a landing page with HubSpot-specific content (including a video) and a meeting scheduler. 

Speaking directly to your audience’s needs and pain points through these steps dramatically increases the chances of them booking a call. Why? Because instead of trusting that a generic “expert” will be able to help them with their highly specific problem, they can see through our content and our form design that Lean Labs can solve their most pressing pain point. 

Fix #4: Focus On Reviews and Create an Impact Loop

A lot of people think good marketing is expensive. You know what’s even more expensive? Bad marketing

To get the best ROI on your marketing efforts, you need to create a marketing machine that pays for itself. When you create this machine, you need to think about two loops: the growth loop and the impact loop.

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  • Growth loop — Awareness ➡ Acquisition ➡ Activation ➡ Revenue ➡ Awareness: This is where most marketers start. 
  • Impact loop — Results ➡ Reviews ➡ Retention ➡ Referrals ➡ Results: This is where great marketers start. 

Most marketers start with their growth loop and then hope that traction feeds into their impact loop. However, the reality is that starting with your impact loop is going to be far more likely to set your marketing engine up for success

Let me share a client story to show you what this looks like in real life.

Client Story: 4X Website Leads In A Single Quarter

We partnered with a health tech startup looking to grow their website leads. One way to grow website leads is to boost organic traffic, of course, but any organic play is going to take time. If you’re playing the SEO game alone, quadrupling conversions can take up to a year or longer.

But we did it in a single quarter. Here’s how.

We realized that the startup’s demos were converting lower than industry standards. A little more digging showed us why: our client was new enough to the market that the average person didn’t trust them enough yet to want to invest in checking out a demo. So, what did we do?

We prioritized the last part of the funnel: reputation.

We ran a 5-star reputation campaign to collect reviews. Once we had the reviews we needed, we showcased them at critical parts of the website and then made sure those same reviews were posted and shown on other third-party review platforms. 

Remember that reputation plays are vital, and they’re one of the plays startups often neglect at best and ignore at worst. What others say about your business is ten times more important than what you say about yourself

By providing customer validation at critical points in the buyer journey, we were able to 4X the website leads in a single quarter!

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So, when you talk to customers, always look for opportunities to drive review/referral conversations and use them in marketing collateral throughout the buyer journey. 

Fix #5: Launch Phantom Offers for Higher Quality Leads 

You may be reading this post thinking, okay, my lead magnets and offers might be way off the mark, but how will I get the budget to create a new one that might not even work?

It’s an age-old issue: marketing teams invest way too much time and resources into creating lead magnets that fail to generate quality leads

One way to improve your chances of success, remain nimble, and stay aligned with your audience without breaking the bank is to create phantom offers, i.e., gauge the audience interest in your lead magnet before you create them.

For example, if you want to create a “World Security Report” for Chief Security Officers, don’t do all the research and complete the report as Step One. Instead, tease the offer to your audience before you spend time making it. Put an offer on your site asking visitors to join the waitlist for this report. Then wait and see how that phantom offer converts. 

This is precisely what we did for a report by Allied Universal that ended up generating 80 conversions before its release.

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The best thing about a phantom offer is that it’s a win/win scenario: 

  • Best case: You get conversions even before you create your lead magnet.
  • Worst case: You save resources by not creating a lead magnet no one wants.  

Remember, You’re On The Same Team 

We’ve talked a lot about the reasons your marketing leads might suck. However, remember that it’s not all on marketers, either. At the end of the day, marketing and sales professionals are on the same team. They are not in competition with each other. They are allies working together toward a common goal. 

Smaller companies — or anyone under $10M in net new revenue — shouldn’t even separate sales and marketing into different departments. These teams need to be so in sync with one another that your best bet is to align them into a single growth team, one cohesive front with a single goal: profitable customer acquisition.

Interested in learning more about the growth marketing mindset? Check out the Lean Labs Growth Playbook that’s helped 25+ B2B SaaS marketing teams plan, budget, and accelerate growth.


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