Marketing to the top is not easy.
CEO marketing requires unrelenting patience and tenacity. It also forces marketers to be at the top of their game at all times, understanding that powerful executives expect nothing less and often demand more.
I have been in the CEO marketing business for over 20 years now. I suggest to new prospects and clients of OnTarget’s services that I have learned a lot more from my failures than my successes; the scars on my back enable me to be that much more successful (for them) today!
So, what have I learned about CEO marketing over this time? Several things that may have an impact on how you approach selling to CEOs in the future:
CEOs are interested in solutions that help their companies become more effective and efficient. They want to cut costs and increase revenue. They are required to spend time on strategic initiatives that make the company better in the future. They are expected to be visionaries and motivators, with great communication abilities and unwavering integrity.
CEOs are paid to make the right decisions quickly. This does not mean that they do not do their homework; it means that they tend to say “no” much more readily than the average corporate buyer. They process better. They know what they need based on experience and talent, and if your offering does not create the value they require, you will be shown the door quickly.
I have written many times about “Demand Discovery” versus “Demand Creation”. At no place in corporate buying decisions is demand discovery more important than the c-suite.
Therefore, studying and reading prior to marketing to a company CEO is paramount.
If you understand where the leader is looking to take the company, it is much easier to see where your solution fits in that journey.
Google the CEO and the company. Do an advanced search and see what has been written in the past month. (Not long ago, we at OnTarget would spend hours reading 10-ks and quarterlies prior to picking up the phone. Now, information is at our fingertips with a quick online search). Go to the company website and read the recent press releases. Read the blog, specifically the “CEO’s Blog” if there is one. Watch videos and listen to the podcasts produced by the CEO.
What are you looking for while studying and reading? Trigger events that make your solution attractive to the CEO.
Look for situations, issues, and opportunities that match success stories and case studies for your company’s solutions. If these exist, you may have just discovered demand.
Build your value proposition to highlight your solution in such a way that the CEO knows immediately the value you can bring to the table. Maybe start with a dimensional mailing (FedEx works the best). Send an email to support your phone call, and then coordinate an in-person meeting when it makes sense. Don’t “sell”, rather, “market”. Inform, prove and be honest. The CEO will appreciate your candor and if your offerings match up to his or her vision, you may be on your way to a fabulous, long-term business relationship.
Ed Trachier is Founder and CEO of OnTarget Partners, LLC. He can be reached at 469-200-4901, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.