“We need to sell up to the C-Suite.” This is the ongoing discussion and challenge among all marketing folks in technology. The thought that if we can get our message beyond the day-to-day executives that we currently have a relationship with, the sales people will have a better business outcome. Although the C-suite is a very important audience and can certainly influence the purchase decision, as a marketer, you cannot ignore those day-to-day executives. In many cases they have the direct line to the C-suite and can determine if your message is C-suite worthy.
Reality in many cases is that each prospective organization has very different protocols in terms of the C-suite influence. Many CEOs, CIOs and CFOs rely on these day-to-day executives to make smart decisions and at the end of the day they trust their talents. This would then suggest that the C-suite audience is simply going to forward your information right back to the day-to-day folks or perhaps simply discard your message. Worse yet, is if you have not developed your content specific to a C-suite audience you can potentially create a perception of irrelevance among this highly sought after group.
Should you be marketing to the C-suite…I believe yes!. There is still great value in creating awareness and building credibility for your technology solutions among the c-suite audience. But as with all other strategic marketing efforts these C-suite focused activities should be integrated with the rest of your marketing efforts against the day-to-day executives.
If you are looking to penetrate or increase your share of corporate budget and provide long-term value to a company you would be wise to plan your approach both tactically and via content development. Do some homework against each account. Meet with your sales team and map out the authority of the day-to-day executives as well as the influence of the C-suite. Find out how the organization tends to make decisions. Figure out who is actually involved in the decision-making process. What information do they need? When do they need it? Who are the influencers?
Using this information, develop a content strategy to nurture both the c-suite as well as the day-to-day executive. Have your content developed so you may react appropriately based on response or feedback from these two targets. Every touch point should add value to the conversation and continue to build your credibility.
Keep in mind, you need to prove your worth to those who will immediately benefit: the day-to-day business-unit executives. With the right messaging and ROI, they may take the results directly to the C-suite, which will increase the impact of your C-level messaging. The effectiveness of your messaging to th e c-suite will increase if it is delivered by the very team they trust.