Going ‘C’ fishing: How to target the C-suite
When you cast your marketing net out into the world, it’s the jumble of acronyms that start with ‘C’ that are surely the greatest catch. CTO, CIOs, CEOs, CDOs, COOs: pick a letter, any letter, and it’s probably someone who has the final say over something.
This is the C-suite, and the buck stops with them. And so do the bucks. When it comes to getting sign-off on any big spend goods or services, it usually has to cross their desk (or more accurately these days, inbox). Sometimes even to the extent that they can override and overrule others to have things their preferred way.
Although you might not target the C-suite at the first time of asking, there’s a high chance that at some point in the process you will need to make your value proposition… well, valuable, to their eyes – which means you need to know what makes them tick.
With B2B, you often have a good grasp of how to appeal to your own like-minded audience. The technical benefits they will appreciate, the problems they face on a day-to-day basis and so on. It’s easy to speak your own language.
Nailing down the C-suite ‘persona’, however, isn’t quite so straightforward. Their technical backgrounds might be quite far removed. They may have moved sideways from another sector. Only one thing is certain, and that’s that they aren’t looking to get bogged down in the behind-the-scenes, nitty-gritty detail.
As such, your marketing needs to accommodate their circumstances. For example, while you might focus on effort saving and ease-of-use perks when speaking to those who will interact with your offering more directly, those in the C-suite are primarily interested in bigger picture benefits like profit and growth.
Here are a few guidelines that might help shape your thinking.
Sweet talking the C-suite
1. Don’t rely on your data to speak for itself Things that are obvious to one party might not be to another. You don’t need to be patronising, but you do need to clearly show how certain facts and figures translate into tangible benefits.
For example: maybe you’re selling software that does twice as many MacGuffins per second as their current one. An engineer might understand how important that is – but you need to spell out in real terms what the advantage of that is in a wider context.
2. They were hired to lead, not to read There is a time and a place for informational videos, whitepapers and think pieces crammed to gills with technical detail. You need to be able to condense all the key parts of your offering into digestible key takeaways.
You need to have content with the elevator pitch version of your offering on hand and on demand.
3. Don’t forget to sell the fairy tale Marketing to the C-suite allows you a little more freedom in how you present what you’re offering. So, you can afford to be a tad more creative: flex your storytelling muscles and highlight the ways it could boost their organisation and the opportunities it unlocks. You’re free to be a bit more evocative and narrative-led with what you’re selling.
Just remember to ground your story with a practical moral at the end – your value and next steps to take things forward.
At bbp, we’ve got bags of experience tuning comms to specifically reach different levels and departments within organisations – especially those at the top. Get in touch if you’d like to know more about what we offer or how we can help you land that big fish.