Many a B2B sales organization asks marketing to help with "top-down" selling efforts.
By this, they believe if we (marketing) can just stick a white paper in front of the C-suite and get sales a meeting, these people will run down the hallways selling your company's product/solution to middle management decision makers like barkers at a country fair.
Easy. If by easy, you mean finding out when and where these C-suiters pull into the company parking lot and then you stepping in front of their cars.*
* Our legal team has informed us to make clear we don't recommend stepping in front of moving vehicles as a marketing tactic and that this was meant for humor only. There, everyone happy?
But reaching, engaging and influencing an audience that everyone is fighting to reach is immensely difficult. To marketers' chagrin, sometimes this is the right strategy.
You face two challenges here:
- Creating relevant, resonant content that succeeds in engaging the busiest professionals in the organization.
- Finding the marketing channels to efficiently reach them with this wondrous content.
Today, let's focus on the first part.
We've found that asking yourself these three questions gives you a realistic chance to produce thought leadership content C-suiters will engage with and value.
1. "What pressing trends or developments within their industry align with our core expertise?"
Content developers often miss the fact that executives are typically more focused on developments within their industry than they are on what peers sharing the same functional role at other companies are doing.
For example, thought leadership content showing the financial implications of an industry trend are going to appeal across the C-suite—not just to CFO.
Yet, a general financial thought leadership piece may not catch the attention of that same CFO at all.
While you may have created specific C-suite personas, focusing on the biggest industry insights has proven a much surer way to success.
2. "Can your executive sales pitch be reworked as a 'decision framework' for executives to use to understand the evolving supplier landscape?"
Let’s face it. Executives are never going to read your collateral. Or your competitors' collateral, for that matter.
But it's also true that executives are rarely comfortable sitting in meetings without having some handle on the state of industry supplier categories and solutions.
This is the genius of "Magic Quadrants" and the like. Executives crave fast snapshots to know who's who and who's good. If there's a space for you to create that, take it.
3. "Can you tell a story of organizational change that drove bottom line success?"
As an agency, we believe case studies belong deeper in the sales funnel. However, executives can be an exception to that rule with one caveat: the benefit for the customer must actually alter the course of their business.
If you are lucky enough to have one or two of these stories and can get your customer or client on board, run with it and run fast.
We have found that your case studies should be in a similar industry, however, it can be from a much smaller organization than the target reader if the story is transformational.
Executives are thinking big picture. Tell a big picture story of success—with video, if possible—and their eyes and ears will perk up.
Turn your content developers loose with these three questions in hand, then dig in and take your shot. We'll tackle reaching the C-suite in a later post. You've got enough on your plate.