As previously published on 5/21/21 in The Drum
by Scott Gillum
Estimated read time: 4 Minutes
Not the “C-Suite.” Sorry if you were hoping to hear otherwise. Despite the pleas from the sales and product organizations, unless you have a solution for a “c-suite” level issue (and few companies have that), they are most likely not your audience.
Sure, they may have to make the decision and/or sign the deal because they own the budget which makes them an important target…for your sales organization, not marketing.
There I said it feel free to forward this post to the head of sales. I can say this because the goal of marketing is to find an audience, get their attention and motivate them to take action. It’s not to sell them, which is often forgotten.
So given that, who is the audience for B2B marketers?
It’s a “director” level position.
Now before you throw the baby “c-level” out with the bathwater, let me explain why they’re important. Actually, I’ll give you three reasons which are all backed by “the numbers.”
- There are more of them
- They feel the pain
- They’re motivated to take action
Think of an organization chart: there is a pyramid with the “c-level” executive on top, vice presidents in the middle and directors near the bottom. As you cascade down the pyramid there are more and more positions. Logically, for every one c-suite executive there are possibly 10’s of director level positions. And marketing, like sales, is a numbers game. More important, is the role each level plays in the purchase decision process. Typically, the “c-suite” executive is the decision maker, the VP the budget holder, and the directors, well, they’re the users. And as the users of the product or services, they are also the ones who feel the pain.
Feeling the pain makes for a motivated audience and that’s who marketers need to get in front of with content. There is also another really important reason that directors are important and it also has to do with motivations.
Being a source of information and bringing new ideas, vendors, and solutions to the table is a smart way to demonstrate value to the organization. They’re motivated by career ambitions so feed them information.
Not convinced yet? Here are some numbers to back up my argument. Over the past year we’ve collected data from clients on over 10,000 prospects and leads sources from marketing activities, lead nurturing programs, and new MQL entries into CRM.
Guess how many had “director” level titles? Over 60% and that number went even higher for MQL’s. Yet for some reason when we plan marketing campaigns, the target audience is often defined as the “c-suite.”
The problem, the c-suite does not actively seek information from marketing channels. If they are looking for a new solution or vendors, they are relying on their network. Peer-to-peer is the number one source of information, and it’s not even close.
Marketers, it’s time to step up and defend your audience. You need to understand and build content for directors with the understanding that they will share it with their bosses and perhaps their bosses’ boss. They are the door openers as well as the path to decision makers.
For sales, they’ll also one day realize that they are key for them as well. Directors are at the beginning of the buyers’ journey and without motivated participants it doesn’t move.
The truth is, just like the fact that the c-suite is not a viable marketing audience, marketing doesn’t actually motivate prospects to take action. Rather it finds motivated audiences who are seeking information, and that audience is dominated by directors.