Demand Generation for the C-Suite: How to Hit the Right Spot

Blog Post Originally Published in BtoB Magazine

Marketers are constantly under pressure to prove value by bringing in leads for sales. This in turn creates a vicious cycle where marketers will cast a wide net in hopes of bringing in as many hand-raisers as possible. It’s not always a win-win, as oftentimes those don’t turn out to be quality leads. Today, it’s a different ballgame: We need to shift to a more targeted accounts-based approach, which means creating content and messaging to support the many buyers and influencers throughout the buying process—especially C-suite. Let’s face it— the holy grail of marketing is to get to the influencers— the C-suite—who have the ultimate say in how an organization invests its dollars.

I recently spoke on a panel titled Demand Gen for the C-Suite, sponsored by Loop Demand, alongside C. Edward Brice (@cedwardbrice), senior VP-worldwide marketing at Lumension Security.  I’ve summarized some of the interesting tips from that panel in a two-part Q&A blog series with Ed. Here’s part one:

Why is it important to target the C-suite in your demand-generation efforts?

Brice: Let me first say that my point of view comes from what we observe in the buying process as an IT security software company. I believe that the C-suite is more involved in the operational side of the business than in the past—and maybe even more than what has been traditionally perceived. I suppose there could be a few C-level executives locked away in the mahogany halls of the ivory tower somewhere, kept away from all the dysfunction of the day, but I haven’t encountered that in my own environment or in our customers’ environments. I find that most C-level leaders are either searching for answers to operational problems or researching best practices, strategic issues and emerging trends.

The C-level isn’t going to take a cold call or enthusiastically sit through a sales-oriented or product-centered webcast, so make sure your demand gen efforts are holistic by developing content across key topics that these individuals will find relevant, and deliver that content through appropriate channels.

How does this differ from your traditional demand-generation marketing campaigns?

Brice: Here’s an example: In our annual program planning, we identify key problems or scenarios. Then, we develop content, which is based on the context of a buyer’s journey, that’s designed to help drive inquiries and convert those inquiries into opportunities to support our sales cycle. We don’t intentionally target C-level folks with these messages, because they really aren’t our primary target audience. We then have thought leadership topics that we consider the industry’s hot topics, and we develop content related to these topics, which may be targeted to C-level roles. The objective with this content is to educate and to deliver our point of view on these hot topics, and to provide recommendations for company execs to consider in developing a strategy.

CEOs and other C-level executives are guarded by many gatekeepers. How can you pierce those corporate shells and get to the right people?

Brice: A few years back, Sirius Decisions did an interesting study that identified three major roles that a C-level leader plays across a buying cycle: Champion (guides the buying process); ratifier (validates and signs the PO); and influencer (advises throughout the buying process). I think in most cases it may be more effective to focus on producing relevant content across a buyer’s journey than spending 100 percent of your effort on trying to reach the C-level. It’s likely that they are part of the process anyway, but may or may not be driving the process. There are times, of course, where you’re trying to educate the market on a very new and innovative strategy, and that might require a more C-level-targeted approach.

In my next blog, I will write about content marketing for the C-suite.

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Comments

  1. Amen…amen…amen!

    My consulting firm works with technology vendors to develop social media campaigns that are aligned with measurable sales outcomes. A significant issue we always face is finding an appropriate balance between quantity and quality when it comes to top of the funnel lead generation.

    In fact, we have introduced the term “lead introduction” to better define what is realistic when it comes to social media.

    I wrote about lead introduction in this blog post. I thought your readers might find it of interest.

    http://www.thestrategicguy.com/in-social-media-top-of-the-funnel-is-about-lead-introduction-not-creation/

  2. “The C-level isn’t going to take a cold call or enthusiastically sit through a sales-oriented or product-centered webcast”

    That’s a good point. Chances are you don’t get to go to the C-level first, so those product-centered webcasts are what gets you in the lower levels. As you work you way up the chain of command your strategy has to change.

    • Saurabh,

      Thank you. You are absolutely right. Cold calling is not the right approach. Your message has to resonate and you have to prepare a targeted plan to reach the C-level and marketers shouldn’t take the usual route of mass marketing. I appreciate the feedback.

  3. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to mention that I’ve really enjoyed browsing your weblog posts. After all I will be subscribing in your feed and I hope you write again soon!

    • Thank you for your kind comments. I’m glad that you enjoyed reading my blog as I try to apply my real world experience into everything I write. Have a wonderful holiday. – Cindy

  4. Good day! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be okay. I’m undoubtedly enjoying your blog and look forward to
    new updates.

    • My Twitter handle is @CindyKimPR. Would love to follow and connect on Twitter. Feel free to share your handle as well. Thanks again for the feedback.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] August 17, 2012 Hinterlasse einen Kommentar The C-level isn’t going to take a cold call or enthusiastically sit through a sales-oriented or product-centered webcast, so make sure your demand gen efforts are holistic by developing content across key topics that these individuals will find relevant, and deliver that content through appropriate channels. via cindykimblog.wordpress.com [...]

  2. [...] [EN] Demand Generation for the C-Suite: How to Hit the Right Spot – The Marketing Journalist The C-level isn’t going to take a cold call or enthusiastically sit through a sales-oriented or product-centered webcast, so make sure your demand gen efforts are holistic by developing content across key topics that these individuals will find relevant, and deliver that content through appropriate channels. via cindykimblog.wordpress.com [...]

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