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Selling To The C-Suite
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Best practices for presenting to senior leaders

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Reaching senior executives has never been more important. Engaging senior executives has never been harder. Creating relevant brand experiences is the single most effective way to engage people in the c-suite.

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Best practices for presenting to senior leaders

  1. 1. The C-Suite Project Creating Effective Experiences For C-level Audiences
  2. 2. Reaching senior executives has never been more important. Engaging senior executives has never been harder. Everyone targets senior executives these days. Creating relevant And with good reason: when it comes down to it, the people with the power to make real, brand experiences game-changing decisions are in the C-suite. is the single most Senior executives are the cornerstone of the effective way to ongoing, trusted partnerships that all of us— brands, service organizations, agencies and engage people suppliers—seek and need to build. in the c-suite. Targeting C-level executives isn’t a new idea. But the sheer amount of executive communication out there is. With executives more in demand than ever, it’s harder to break through the clutter. It takes an intelligent, programmatic approach, a clear value proposition and a real understanding of this unique audience. C-suite executives are smart, successful, sometimes arrogant (usually deservedly so). They’re over-scheduled, responsible for impressively broad portfolios, and protected by gatekeepers. But they’re people, too. And, just like other people, one of the most effective ways of engaging them is to create experiences that are uniquely targeted to their wants, needs, interests and influence. The C-Suite Project /2
  3. 3. Getting to know the C-suite. It’s dangerous to over generalize, but there are per week, and only attend a few each year. a few basic truths about executives. Take-away: Breaking through and getting an 1. They’re BUSY. executive’s attention requires something of real With a company-wide portfolio, they are value, purpose and distinction. constantly jumping from one topic to another. 3. They’re HUNGRY for ideas. They make the complex and difficult decisions. A recent HBR article pointed out an interesting (The easy decisions get made by others; only irony: “The skills that help you climb to the top the truly complicated and tough decisions are won’t suffice once you get there.” Executives theirs.) They’re constrained by resources—both need different skills—leadership skills and monetary and staff. They have to prioritize business acumen—that mid-level managers opportunities and allocate limited resources to simply don’t. They need to learn, to absorb, achieve their objectives. All of which makes them and to stay on top of emerging trends to be incredibly busy. successful. And they have few peers within their Take-away: Every experience designed and organization to learn from or interact with. created for executives has to compete with a Take-away: Executives crave fresh insights, crowded landscape of demands and needs. ideas and content. They seek out opportunities So be relevant. Be direct. Be quick. Be gone. to interact with true peers. If your experience 2. They’re IN DEMAND. can address one of those needs, Internally and externally, executives are in demand. Internal teams and staff want answers you’ve broken through. and direction from executives. Clients and customers demand attention and engagement. Ecosystem partners and agencies seek business and partnership. Some executives will receive one to two invitations to conferences or experiences The C-Suite Project /3
  4. 4. Of course, just like any other audience, executives have unique perspectives, personalities and needs. Some differences are obvious: marketing 4. Image-Conscious Influencers (22%) Understanding who executives have very different interests than care about how others view them. They like to financial executives. Yet there are other, equally “demonstrate their wealth” and influence, and you’re dealing with important differences of attitude and viewpoint. are opinionated and vocal. can make a huge A recent Ipsos MediaCT survey into the 5. Local Elites (17%) difference in the style “Business Elite” segmented the executive class into five distinct categories: are less likely to work in global enterprises. They and approach you value “status within their local community”, stay take. Take the time 1. Traditional Conservatives (20%) close to home and are deeply involved within are “risk-averse and guarded”, all about and outside of work. to really understand financial results, the traditional “suits” of yore executives as people. (and yes, they predominantly wear suits). 2. Ambitious Trendsetters (18%) see themselves as “innovators, embracing change and adopting the latest technology”. They’re rich, live in luxury and prideful of influence and importance. 3. Conscientious Leaders (22%) have “a strong moral compass, with ethics coming before money”. Luxury per se isn’t a draw: issues and ideas are. The C-Suite Project /4
  5. 5. The rules of engagement (executive style) So we know our audience. The next step is Rule 3: Make it shareable. attendees will use in evaluating the experience. creating a powerful and relevant experience for Executive experiences should tap into technology Was it a valuable way to spend my time? If the them. Here are five central rules to keep in mind as well as our primal human desire to share. answer’s yes, you’ve made your mark. If not, Executives are increasingly digital and mobile, well, you blew an opportunity – and you might Rule 1: Invite participation. tweeting away on their iPads and sharing their not get another one. Executives have a wealth of education and learnings with their wider teams (internally and experience and they expect their voices to be sometimes externally). So provide content in heard. Their presence adds value, and they shareable ways, and create experiences that (rightfully) know it. Successful experiences encourage storytelling and sharing. invite their participation, draw them in, and get them involved. A one-way presentation of Rule 4: Create a community. company information is a waste of the executive This audience craves peer-to-peer connection, audience’s time—and yours. Participation with and shared experiences are the most effective this audience means high-level discussion, case way to create those relationships. Execs studies or moderated debate, not a game show want (and expect) to be in an audience with set on stage. other C-level participants with whom they will have plenty of time to network, learn, and Rule 2: Build it specifically for them. form alliances to grow their businesses. Don’t Always important, user-focus is especially shortchange them by limiting networking time important with executive experiences, which (or space). And do what you can to facilitate must be relevant and customized. Even at scale, conversations before and after the when your audience is 3,000 C-level executives, experience, too. each attendee should derive real value, be able to shape the experience to meet their interests Rule 5: Add value. and needs, and feel taken care of. And although Above all, the experience needs to provide real content is king, executives expect to be treated value to the executives. It’s how you’ll cut through really, really well—so make it happen. in the first place, and also the central metric The C-Suite Project /5
  6. 6. Big C, little C. What begins with C? When talking about this audience, we talk • Informative content shares new information • It must be amazingly executed. An executive about C-levels, CXOs, or the C-Suite. And when (often under NDA), new research results, experience should be superlatively well creating valuable brand experiences for them, new facts and truths. executed. It must be crisply, elegantly produced, we look at three other Cs: content, context with seamless logistics. After all, execs are • Entertaining content strengthens relationships and conversations. often too busy to be encumbered with their own and can provide star-power or “I was there” schedules and details, so make their experience Content bragging rights. simple to navigate and beyond buttoned up. For the C-level audience, content is everything. • Inspiring content helps busy executives get Conversation The content drives the relevance and value of energized and excited about the possibilities Finally, the way to engage the C-level audience the experience. And it differentiates your brand and opportunities before them. is not to sell. It’s to converse and to facilitate and your experience. So don’t be tempted to Context great conversations for the audience. And in recycle (or “edit”) existing content for a C-level The context of the experience is critical. It is the many cases, it’s not even conversations with audience. We’ve all been part of a meeting the brand. Often the role of the brand is to be where a mid-level presenter flails in front of environment we create to surround the content the cocktail host – to ensure all your guests are an executive—presenting too much detail or and interaction; the world we create to house having great conversations amongst themselves. getting into intricacies the executive just doesn’t our experience. • Conversations with true peers. care about. Executives expect tailored content, • It must be true to the brand. The environment delivered quickly and straightforwardly, must reflect the brands’ character and • Conversations with luminaries. in actionable ways. personality. In many ways a C-level experience • Conversations with brand leaders. Creating exec-relevant content is a skill, and it is the essential expression of the brand. • Conversations with subject matter experts. can come in many different flavors: • It must be tailored to the audience. With a All in a relevant, intimate environment you demanding, busy audience, our experience must • Insightful content provides new analysis and created especially for that purpose. be tailored to their needs. Sessions should be insights into trends and the state of the industry. short, and all experiences white-glove. It should feel intimate and personalized, engaging execs both as professionals and as people. The C-Suite Project /6
  7. 7. An executive summary (naturally) 1. You have to know who you’re targeting, and C-level audiences represent a tiny sliver of the tailor your experience accordingly. potential audience base for any given brand, yet their influence and importance is paramount. 2. You have to hit your three C’s—presenting Brands have recognized the importance of your tailored content in a powerful context that this audience, but many are using the same fosters the right conversations. strategies and approaches and not rethinking 3. And you have to know what it is you’re and revitalizing their strategies. actually trying to accomplish. Yes, executives are unique. But they are people, The ultimate purpose of any experience will too. And effective experiences impact them, just shape how everything gets applied. An as experiences can change the behavior and experience designed to nurture relationships beliefs of other audiences. will look very different from one looking to The bottom line? The C-Suite isn’t as far away as accelerate sales with existing clients. The best you think. Executives are hungry for ideas, and programs are often singularly focused on an the door is open for those providing real value. objective. They may hit many different notes, but You just need to create relevant experiences as they focus on doing one thing exceptionally well. unique as they are. Savvy brands balance this laser focus with a broader, year-long engagement strategy for key C-level executives comprised of numerous touchpoints. One-off activities are integrated into an overall C-level engagement strategy, which may include in-person experiences, on-going community engagement, and a mix of social, networking and thought leadership content. The C-Suite Project /7
  8. 8. Talk to Jack Contact: Liz Bigham, SVP, Director of Brand Marketing E: liz_bigham@jackmorton.com T: +1 212 401 7212 Read our blog at blog.jackmorton.com Follow us on twitter @jackmorton Visit us online at jackmorton.com About Jack Morton We have deep experience with B2B brands in creating and delivering C-level experiences, and extensive knowledge about the audience, their expectations and how to engage them. We have created and delivered C-level experiences for Fortune 500 brands, and companies large and small around the world. Jack Morton Worldwide is a global brand experience agency with offices on five continents. Our agency culture promotes breakthrough ideas about ACK how experiences connect brands and people – in-person, online, at retail J and through the power of digital and word of mouth. We work with both BtoC and BtoB clients to create powerful and effective experiences that engage customers and consumers, launch products, align employees and WHITE PAPERS build strong experience brands. Ranked at the top of our field, we earned over 50 awards for creativity, execution and effectiveness last year. To read our earlier white papers, visit our Slideshare Jack Morton is part of the Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc. (NYSE: IPG). channel at slideshare.com/jackmortonww © Jack Morton Worldwide 2012 The C-Suite Project /8

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