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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5 Powerful Steps to Optimize Your Business with LinkedIn

Post originally published on www.agencyside.net http://bit.ly/b2IraA.

With more than 50 million professionals entrusting their personal brand and identities with LinkedIn, the social networking platform has evolved into the largest business networking platform.  While LinkedIn is still largely used by professionals to connect with other colleagues, LinkedIn has added powerful capabilities to extend personal and business brand, enhance SEO, and engage with a thriving community.  LinkedIn goes a step further on networking by allowing you to build a community to share information, educate, discuss, debate, and build thought leadership for your brand. LinkedIn not only presents great opportunities for businesses but agencies that are evolving with the demands of their clients to leverage crucial social networking channels to build brand awareness, connect with a thriving community, build thought leadership and ultimately drive traffic to blogs or websites in a cost effective manner.

Why LinkedIn? Agencies should take note – it’s critical for brands to be present, be heard, be engaged, and be connected in order to build and sustain success. The Internet, and advent of Web-based tools, has provided us with a powerful tool in being all those things, often in real time.

In this blog, “Harnessing the Power of LinkedIn for Businesses”, I will cover key steps to guide agencies on the proper use of LinkedIn to provide the most bang for your efforts. For more information, please check out A Practical Approach to Building Brand and SEO through LinkedIn, my Q&A blog with Chris Hewitt.

1. Personalize Your Brand by Building a Corporate Profile

Similar to what you do on a personal level, encourage your clients to build a dynamic, engaging presence by launching a corporate profile. Start building a community of professionals within your niche market. Companies can promote within your organization to get their trusted employees and their colleagues to join. Key things when building a company profile, make sure to integrate key foundational channels to LinkedIn – your corporate blog, Slideshare, Twitter, and other appropriate applications so that you’re not only building a community, but enriching them with real time information on your blog, events, Twitter, and Slideshare, etc. LinkedIn allows you to showcase a supportive, engaged corporate culture by connecting and fostering your community. Further, you’re elevating your thought leadership position through information sharing, presentations and video sharing, as well as Twitter dialogue.

  • You can write a blog attach it to your profile or promote via your status update
  • Upload Slideshare and share relevant documents and PowerPoints
  • Create polls and questions for your blog, byline article, whitepaper, etc.

2. Engage and Build Your Network via LinkedIn Groups

This is a great tool on LinkedIn to not only engage but to promote your brand, grow your network/community, build trust, and thought leadership. You can start by looking under LinkedIn Groups and doing search using key terms relevant to your market. You’ll find all the groups that you can join. Look at the total number of members before you decide to join all. Be strategic in your approach. Once you have completed this, you can use this for several reasons – for monitoring and engagement, job posting, and driving traffic to your blog or corporate website (or designated site), and increasing your community outreach.

3. Strengthen Your Media Outreach

Analysts and reporters are using the groups to monitor conversations, industry issues, trends, and user pain points. This is a great platform for agencies to monitor respective groups and their media/analysts contacts and flag any opportunities to their clients/spokespeople. Further, have the client or appropriate spokespeople respond directly on the LinkedIn discussion board to build on that relationship with the reporter.

4. Building Trust through Authentic Brand Engagement

You want to set your brand apart from the rest, right? This is where authentic engagement comes in. You can truly make an impact through listening and monitoring discussion and in return engaging providing insightful information or lessons learned relevant to your industry. If necessary, link back to useful information (whitepaper, blog, webinars, etc.). Focus on providing valuable insight and relevant information to help further the discussion. Also, monitor your discussions and when someone posts comments on your discussion, be sure to respond in a timely manner. It’s also helpful to add the following signature for every engagement on discussion boards, dedicated messages, comments, etc.

  • Name
  • Company
  • Blog link
  • Twitter link
  • Group/community link

This way when others in the network are viewing your comments/discussions, they can visit other resources (links) to learn more or follow you on Twitter.

5. Build Thought Leadership by Launching Your Own Community

This may the most powerful feature within LinkedIn. The LinkedIn community organically generates high quality and well-qualified audiences that we, as marketers, would love to reach with our messages. Additionally, there are enough explicit and implicit profiling attributes to segment various audiences (e.g. industry, company size, region, skills, etc.).  Companies can reach their target audience as well as build their brand by launching a dedicated community. Grow your community by promoting it on other groups’ discussion boards. To make your community compelling and interesting for others to join, start by sharing interesting industry related articles, debate topics, or even posing a question around your blog content along with a link. Be sure the content is educational/informative, not company or product specific. You can also send dedicated emails to promote events, whitepapers, ebooks, blogs, etc. You can also create subgroups if you want to target via geos or different niche markets.

 How are you using LinkedIn to build your brand, SEO, and thought leadership?