Creating content to target C-suite business leaders

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Missive’s Hannah Devoy and Julia Lavin presented a webinar for BrightTalk as part of its CMO Summit, discussing how to create content to engage a C-suite audience.

For most of Missive’s clients, the C-suite and senior business decision-makers are essential targets for PR and communications.

Following on from the webinar, Hannah and Julia put pen to paper to offer their top tips for engaging a C-suite audience; a crucial, high-value group.

Get to know the individual

Yes, we hear you: you want to target the C-suite. But as with every audience, you need to understand the individual to accurately anticipate the group’s needs and interests.

Break down your primary target audience (the C-suite) by relevant categories, e.g. job title, relevant vertical sectors and individual demographics, to build a more detailed and complete picture of the people you need to reach. This will allow you to craft content that speaks to different facets of your audience profile.

Then, think about your secondary audiences – those who have significant influence over your primary audience – and break them down in the same way. Work out which individuals you need to reach and in what order. If you are selling to the CTO, will they make the ultimate decision or will they leave it to a department head or IT manager to advise them? Likewise, if you’re trying to reach the CEO you might appeal to them more if they are experiencing pressure from customers or board members.

Map out the journey your brand needs to make to reach your ultimate goal and then be targeted in your approach, focusing on one or two audiences at a time and assessing ROI. 

Understand their interests

Once you know exactly who you’re targeting, the natural next step is to find out what they’re interested in. Again, breaking your audiences down as precisely as possible will help you find topics that are useful. 

For example, a FTSE 100 CEO may lead a fast-paced, profit-driven business by day but in his/her spare time they might enjoy fine wine and holidays in the South of France. This in turn will influence the publications they read and the subjects they care about. 

Consider what you have the credentials to speak about and how you can add value to your audience. What can you offer that no one else can? Unique data points, unusual case studies or other insights that you have at your disposal can be used to pique interest.

Use the right tone and language

All too often, companies use techie, jargon-laden messaging to target senior business decision-makers. This style of communication might be perfect for other stakeholders in your chain of influence, e.g. for IT or operations managers, but it is unlikely to capture the interest of a busy C-level executive.

As a general rule, we advise translating such technical language into business-ready messaging. What is the overall business benefit of your product or service? Think high-level – will it impact revenue? How will it support the business’s interests over five years? Ultimately, how will it help your audience to fulfil their own personal goals? 

Choose the right format and platform

There is no single format or platform that is best for targeting the C-suite. Make an informed decision by considering the insights gleaned through the stages outlined above alongside your objectives or goals for your outreach. 

For example, you might want to increase web traffic and therefore drive lead generation. A strategy involving social media would work by driving traffic to a landing page. From there, think about the size of the relevant audience on different platforms, assessing the required investment and likely return. 

It’s highly likely that your approach to reach your target audience will involve multiple platforms and channels. Make sure that all your content ties together with consistent messaging in line with your ultimate goals. Without this, your approach will be unfocused and you will risk wasting time and budget. 

Measure impact 

Test, test, and test some more! Every piece of content you publish should be tracked and its impact assessed against pre-defined metrics in line with your objectives. By testing, you can iterate your approach based on where you’re seeing success, improving over time to create content that delivers the results you need. 

You can also A/B test content, particularly on social media platforms using slightly different messages, images or content styles to see what has the best impact. In turn, this insight can be applied to the rest of your campaign as well.  

Every audience you target should be treated as bespoke, remembering that people are individuals as well as job titles. A measurable approach grounded in in-depth insight, in keeping with business objectives, will take you far.

If you want help shaping your comms strategy to target the C-suite – or any other audience for that matter – drop us a line: 

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