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25 & 26 MARCH 2020


C-suite Marketing: who are they, what is it and Why do it

C-suite marketing is increasingly talked about today, but why?  What is their relevance or importance?  What should I do with them as a B2B marketing?

The C-suite refers to the group of senior executives and ultimate senior decision makers within an organisation; together they will make all major decisions for a company;  originally the ‘C’ in C-level refers to the executives with titles such as CEO, CIO, CMO, CFO etc. though for purposes of this article we’ll use the C-level to mean the senior executive level of an organisation which report into the owner or CEO of a company.

C-suite marketing as a term can be misleading for people to think that the C-suite are one unit;  in effect the C-suite within an organisation can include very different types of personas.    Within the C—suite  there are different types of representatives for different areas of the business ;  their make-up their motivations, media they use,  decision processes can all vary.   A CIO can be very different from a Chief Sales Officer, a CMO can act and behave greatly from a CFO.   The C-suite from a large enterprise in one industry can differ widely to that of a C-suite in another industry;   between organisation sizes C-suite can differ so being clear about which C-suite, which industry and which person or stakeholder to target can contribute to the success of C-suite marketing. 

C-suite decision making

How a C-suite proposes and makes decision can vary; a CEO typically in large organisation will not ultimately preside over others in his reporting staff; but listen to proposals; typically, decisions will be made as a group or by majority; the CEO and CMO relationship is apparently changing such that CMO is looking after more and more data, data management, data analysis; with the shift.  There can be many iterations and structures of decision making within organisations; whether decision making is made collectively, or where the CEO empowers key C-suite members to make major decisions without their involvement

Topics and influencers

As we see from the above example data is becoming a more important topic for an organisation where the CMO is gaining influence; for some organisations, they’ve even appointed new executive level C-suite members such as Chief Data Officer or Chief Digital Officer (CDO) to manage the digital or data.  Social is becoming such an important focus; again, where the CMO typically is asked to take the lead. simply because they know more than others about and have been familiar with it; the CMO and department is also typically got more relationships regarding social for the company.  

Why am I telling you this?  Well if you’re working for a company trying to sell some new social media or monitoring application then you’re main target C-suite member is likely to be the CMO and potentially the CDO or CIO;  so rather than try to go after the C-suite as a collective  the best approach is to build a database of CMOs and CIOs. 

Seems challenging – is it worth it!

Catching the early bird - Changing Buyer decision cycles

We’ve learnt from various research that the buyer journey has changed in the past ten years, buyers are engaging vendors much later in their decision journey.  

With this change means vendors need to think of different ways directly or indirectly to engage  decision makers earlier on in the purchase journey;  through marketing to C-suite or having contact with them can allow vendors to have an influence into major decisions earlier on in the purchase journey;  as  senior executives are prompted to think of the vendor when consider an unfulfilled or new need.

Higher AOV and profitable deals

Entering in conversations with senior executives of a company’s; means talking about business challenges, and about solutions.  Typically, such conversations mean vendors will talk about full solutions and a broader set of offerings rather than point sales.   Of course, it means to really explain how a business can solve problems with solutions rather than talk about product specifications; e.g. how latest mobile notebooks can help organisations bottom line and sales productivity; how data analysis tools can improve efficiencies for a business by serving up insights faster and in a more meaningful way.

Not just about acquiring customers

C-suite marketing is not just about acquiring new customers but about helping with developing business with existing customers.  In terms of improving stickiness with an existing customer; building a connection with the senior executive decision makers means forming stronger links regarding longer term business benefits 

Broader business opportunities

Senior level executives or C-suite will have a broader view of the company direction and will be interested in unlocking potential through capital, resource or other means; they could also be looking for partners in the forms of suppliers who can offer a different relationship.  It may be that the vendor organisation can offer something the company hasn’t thought about or that the proposition being offered needs to be considered with a long-term perspective, which at a lower level in the company may not be appreciated.  For example, a proposition which in the short-term costs a lot more but over the year reduces energy bills or reduces other operating costs may be more positively considered by a financial head who is looking at long-term benefits rather than a more junior person in the purchasing department who is taking a shorter-term view of the business.

More strategic and long-term

Having a window into the longer-term decisions of a customer or group of customers may have a bearing on a vendors’ own business focus, business organisation structure and provide a heads-up regarding necessary changes.   In the past, the focus from companies on green, energy efficiency and sustainability has led some companies to change their internal policies, and approaches, e.g. Grainger now has a major focus on sustainability and CCSR; other companies tendering for projects in the public vertical space are looked upon favourable if they have a green and sustainable focus over other companies. 

So now we know it’s important to engage the C-suite and marketing to them; how do we do it; learn more from the seminar as I discuss themes such as the gatekeeper, contact strategy, C-suite content marketing and more!