Guest post by Tom Whatley.
Getting in front of senior decision makers is a common struggle among marketers. When it comes to C-Suite marketing, cutting through the noise and creating content that senior executives will find valuable is hard.
There is a methodology that can make this process easier. It’s a methodology that’s helped companies such as NetSuite, SAS and Ixonos to build trust with the senior decision makers in their target market and, eventually, secure seven figures in sales pipeline.
Before we dive in, there are some foundational elements you should be aware of. There are some things you need to understand about the C-Suite when marketing and selling to them.
C-Suite marketing foundations
A recent Harvard study discovered that the C-Suite spends only 2% of their time with vendors like you and I. That’s around an hour a week, so no wonder it’s so difficult to get their attention.
There are two elements to C-Suite marketing that make up this entire methodology: value and trust. By value we don’t mean how-to articles and other traditional forms of content, though they do have their place in the process.
To the C-Suite, valuable content means insight, statistics and hard facts that provide a logical argument for change. It’s okay to compliment this form of content with how-to guides, but you need to give them a reason to get involved in a discussion with you.
To do this, find out what your market is saying about a topic closely related to your value proposition. Leave all assumptions at the door and really listen to what’s already being discussed. Find a unique angle that aligns this message with your own value proposition.
Once you have their attention, you need to build trust. It gets pretty lonely at the top, and the C-Suite rarely get challenged on their decisions. Everyone reports to them, so it’s not often that their opinions are tested.
This is a huge frustration for senior decision makers, but a great advantage for the C-Suite marketer. By challenging their views, you cut through the noise and put yourself into a trusted space.
You can do this by bringing the opinions of several executives together and seeking out differences of opinion. Turn your content into a discussion and have them leaving feeling like their opinion has been challenged or confirmed with confidence.
Turning content into independence
These two principles of value and trust need to be communicated in a way that positions you away from the stance of a “seller.” Even if your content ticks the boxes above and provides incredible value, when you come from the position of the vendor the C-Suite will still have their guard up.
To get through this, and build trust quickly, try creating an independent brand to position you a trustworthy entity.
One way to do this is by creating a club platform. The club brings together C-Suite executives and decision makers from our clients’ target market and focuses on the elements above.
How NetSuite used a club platform to secure a seven-figure sales pipeline
NetSuite is a cloud business management suite. Their most challenging sales & marketing goal is targeting and getting in front of senior decision makers in their target markets.
In order to do this, The Ortus Club was created. The club platform was built in order to explore and debate upon how to increase visibility and growth within the organisations of the senior decision makers who engaged with it.
The club took on a digital format, utilising content and LinkedIn as platforms to nurture their target audience, as well as a face-to-face element – which was crucial in developing solid relationships based on trust and value – in the form of a dinner.
One of the most recent dinner and discussion events had attendees from fast growing software and online companies. These were executives that they would not have had access to previously.
It’s easy to dismiss this form of C-Suite and content marketing due to its face-to-face element, but when marketing to senior decision makers it’s an important piece of the system to include.
If you’re only creating content online, then you’re ending the journey there. Marketing to (and securing sales from) the C-Suite means getting out there and bringing them together.
This methodology I’ve just shared with you should speed that process up, as long as you remember to separate the message from your core brand and create an independent entity. This is the key to cutting through the clutter and getting their attention.