Marketing to the C-Suite

The C-level is the ultimate decision maker who views decisions through lens of overall efficiencies, growth and balancing needs across organization. With this audience, decisions are complex and occur in networks — meaning that a management-level staff member is typically the one conducting initial research on products or services needed in their department, then providing specific information to their higher-ups who ultimately pull the trigger.

  • Personal brand is important: CEOs are driven to recognition as authoritative figures
  • They require brevity & pragmatism in messaging
  • Content should focus on strategy, value and return rather than technical details
  • CEOs understand that reward comes with risk
  • They maintain close, supportive networks of trusting advisors
  • C-levels are motivated to gain efficiencies, predict & control outcomes and grow revenue

When it comes to content, messaging & formats C-levels have pretty unique requirements for what a brand offers them. A few key considerations to touch on when selling to this audience:

Hard data makes a big impression with C-levels. Provide supportable facts to drive reliability and translate predicted returns on investment. Establish a reporting system to track all activity back to business goals to prove success and earn trust. Look past top-of-mind trends and put emphasis on the data and insights that suggest long-term success. How will you help scale their business? Contribute to overall growth of the organization? How adaptable are you to change as their needs expand or the market shifts? “Don’t tell me how it works, tell me how the it can help solve business problems, generate revenue and move the company forward.” However, since we know that initial research is often conducted by a management-level role, provide technical implementation-level data to satisfy the content needs of that audience further down the funnel. The value you offer must be recognizable and easy to extract quickly. Think key takeaways vs. detailed technical information. When in doubt, scrap the copy.

According to an April 2013 survey, 57% of C-level respondents cited a preference for text over multimedia formats including infographics, video, and podcasts.

C-level executives are notably challenging to access, and even more difficult to convince. Your window will be short, so be prepared to communicate the value of what you can offer to the business, state your proof points succinctly and provide back up data for each promise you make.

Want to get inside the head of your target audience? Give us a shout!

Originally published at on August 26, 2014.