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Hitting the C-suite spot for demand gen: part two

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What is the right approach in targeting the C-suite? Targeted, relevant and insightful messages that resonate with the C-levels to help them solve business challenges. Balance that with the right delivery and approach. This requires an accounts-based approach—a deep understanding of their business model, challenges, growth strategy and competitive landscape. Here is part two of my blog post with C. Edward Brice, senior VP-worldwide marketing for Lumension.

When creating content for the C-suite, what messages, pain points or hot buttons have proven to be most successful?

Brice: I think a report in the McKinsey Quarterly really said it best. I’ve paraphrased the advice:

  • Data-driven credibility. This is really about getting data-driven insights and doing research. In our case, we do one or two proprietary industry surveys on our key thought leadership topics, which we, of course, turn into supportive content that fuels our thought leadership programs.
  • Relevant and updated information. Ensure that your hot topics are indeed hot so that they resonate within the C-suite. Remember that the C-suite also wants to know how others have addressed the issues or best practices.
  • Get to the point. If you look at how McKinsey designs its reviews, you’ll see they are always around three to five very succinct insights. As we all know, C-level execs don’t have a lot of time.
  • Know your audience. Know how your audience consumes information. Will your C-level audience read a 10-page white paper or view a three-minute video? Think strategically about the delivery channel.

How can you nurture CXO leads, and how does this differ from your traditional marketing tactics?

Brice: C-levels are always working on big challenges, and they need help meeting these challenges. Vendors should take pride in their role as an educator, and lead in providing industry insight. Successful vendors are those that do not focus on product features and functions, but above all, have a vision and are willing to engage in a constructive debate and hold their ground. These vendors become the C-level’s trusted advisors. By continually providing relevant and insightful points of view, you will give yourself opportunities to get there.

What digital strategies or social media marketing efforts can be used to generate C-level leads?

Brice: Again, it’s important to develop an understanding of how your C-level wants to consume information as well as what topics they’re interested in. Going back to the Sirius Decisions study, we can see that the channel that C-level execs use to gather information varies based on their role in the sales process. For example:

C-Levels Who Were Champions:
Utilized search (26%)
Followed closely by industry peers (23%)
Industry analysts (20%)
Work colleagues (20%)
Social media (11%)

C-Levels who Were Influencers:
Work colleagues (25%)
Search (24%)
Followed by industry peers (20%)
Industry analysts (20%)
Social media (11%)

To make this actionable, I believe it’s important to think not only about the obvious in optimizing your SEO and leveraging your PR and social media channels for content syndication purposes, but also to think about the sharing opportunities among the roles involved in the buying cycle.

For example, in a recent IT thought leadership program, we prepackaged content for an IT role to send on to the C-level manager. In the direct outreach to the C-leve,l we prepackaged content for C-level to send directly to their IT peers, and even forward on to their employees.

It all depends on what your objectives are, but there is a huge opportunity to make it easy to share information among the roles.

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