- April 12, 2016
3 Questions Your Content Must Answer for C-Level Executives
As marketers, we are always trying to figure out how to position content and messaging to the C-Suite audience. Most content marketers assume that a specific content format is the silver bullet (e.g. “CMO’s love reading case studies!”). However, it’s not always just about content type, it’s also about messaging within the content.
When looking to target the C-Suite, marketers need to ask themselves these three questions regarding content:
- What does the product/service bring to the organization?
- How will the messaging build trust?
- How will the messaging challenge the current way of thinking?
It’s not about you – it’s about what you can do for me
Executives aren’t interested in what your company is about, they want to know what your product/service can do for them right now. This is why marketers instinctively default to case studies when looking to target executives; case studies demonstrate success experienced by similar companies. That’s certainly part of an effective C-Suite messaging strategy, but certainly not the whole strategy. In addition to case studies, marketers can demonstrate value through messaging via insight, statistics, and cold hard facts. An infographic that leverages statistics/facts that support the need for your product is a good way to demonstrate a product’s value to executives. The C-Suite is looking to understand a complex issue in certain terms, so make sure your content provides both sides of the issue, explaining how your product/service will help them now. In addition to the aforementioned infographics, white papers, analyst written papers, and case studies could be relevant content types to leverage. A recent survey by The Economist found that 85% of executives preferred text content to video or audio format.
“C” is for Credibility
It’s not just about demonstrating your value to the C-Suite audience; they need to be able to trust your product, and your brand. The “C” in C-Suite may was well stand for credibility, because that’s what it will take in addition to having a strong product. Is the topic being covered being presented by a pillar of strength (well-known industry experts in, or outside of, your company)? It doesn’t matter how strong the messaging is, or how well your product can solve all of an organization’s problems, if the author of the content isn’t credible, the executive audience won’t take you seriously. Another way to build credibility with the C-Suite audience is through content that features third party endorsement from clients, partners, or other advocates. This is one of the ways to diversify beyond case studies: A white paper/analyst report from a noted research firm (e.g. Forrester) that extols the strengths of the product/service will go a long way to building credibility in an executive’s eyes.
Does your content challenge C-level executives’ current way of thinking?
How does your content challenge the current way of thinking at the C-level within an organization? Most C-level employees want to be educated on business they weren’t previously aware of in order to ensure their company is constantly evolving. In order to resonate with executives your messaging should challenge their way of thinking. For example, if I were the content marketer for a large networking company, I would make sure my content educated executives on the growing evolution of network virtualization, and the need for an ecosystem approach – something my company offers. It is imperative that your content challenges conventional wisdom of the C-Suite. Going back to the earlier point about credibility, this is where partnering with a credible industry research firm can be a benefit – highlight key trends within your topic space and then outline how your products/services align with those trends.
Successfully positioning content to the C-Suite audience goes beyond just choosing content based on format. Does your content messaging challenge conventional wisdom of the C-Suite? If it doesn’t, you may need to re-evaluate the market, look for trends that aren’t 100% embraced by organizations, and demonstrate why executives should care, and how your product can help with these challenges. Don’t tell executives what they already know; tell them what they don’t know. If your company or content writers aren’t well respected pillars within your topic space, it may make sense to partner with a third party, or start tapping customers for testimonials that can help position you as a trusted brand within the topical space. Non-executive audience members are more likely to take a chance on an unknown business if their product is compelling enough; executives aren’t going to waste time on the unknown.
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