You’re running late to work, and you’ve not had time to have your first coffee of the day. But on your way, you stop at a hole-in-the-wall coffee shop right by the station. As a rule, you would have bought this coffee from your favourite shop, a few minutes’ walk from the station. Today, however, you’ve broken the rule. If asked why, you’d have probably said something along the lines of, “Oh, it’s convenient, you know. I don’t have the time to go all the way to the other shop.”

In marketing language, you “engaged” with the coffee shop because you had an “Easy For Me” experience. The coffee shop was in the right place at the right time and for the right reasons. You might not particularly like the coffee, but it solves a problem you have at that moment and helps you achieve a goal. People engage media products (content) for exactly the same reason. It solves problems and helps them achieve their goals.

“Engagement isn’t about liking or disliking. Real engagement happens when the audience experiences something that addresses their motivation and helps them achieve their desires and goals. And this is true regardless of whether you’re selling a three-pound-a-cup coffee or multimillion pound tech product.”

Creating experience-focused content

Creating experience-focused content is the secret to standing out in a “parity product” market, where one brand resembles its competitor so closely that it is often hard to tell them apart.

If you want to engage the C-suite, you need to create experiences with your content that addresses their motivation. Now, the question is, what are their motivations and how can you create those experiences?

In 2008, two professors at Northwestern University, Abe Peck and Edward C Malthouse, published landmark research which uncovered 40 different kinds of experiences that people seek to have based on their motivations. Of these 40, the five below are the ones that the C-suite audience wants the most.

1. Makes me smarter

While a C-suite audience may no longer be motivated by pure career growth, continuously keeping up with their fields is an important motivation for them. Why is that? Several reasons: One, C-suite leaders oversee their company’s future; two, they are budget holders and decision makers; and three, they must often justify their investments and decisions to other members of the board and get their buy-in. For this, you need to create content and situations where they can have the “Makes Me Smarter” Experience. The people who want this experience say things like:

  • “It addresses issues or topics of special concern to me.”
  • “It updates me on things that I try to keep up with.”
  • “Even if I disagree with information in this [media source], I feel I have learned something valuable” (notice how people may disagree and still engage)
  • “It’s important I remember later what I have read/heard/looked at.”
How to create it:

You could curate and syndicate content created by thought leaders on a standalone hub. This would not only increase your brand’s credibility and equity, but it also positions you as a go-to source for information on a particular topic. IBM Developer is a brilliant example of this. It’s a one-stop-shop for developers.

Our own brand, works with companies and content producers across the tech spectrum. We curate and co-produce articles, reports, news, podcasts and more with some of the best minds in the tech sector.

2. Talk about and share

We also know that most C-suite leaders need material that they can discuss with other members of the board and their team members. The chat by the water cooler we saw above is one example of this experience. But there are many other situations where this can happen. C-suite audiences see immense value in networking; they also look for situations where they can talk about and share their challenges, insights and stories.

  • I use things I have heard in this TV program in discussions or arguments with people I know
  • Reading this website gives me something to talk about
  • Watching the news makes me a more interesting person
  • A big reason I read it is to make myself more interesting to other people
  • I show things in the magazine to people in my family
  • I bring up things I have read in this newspaper in conversations with many other people
How to create it:

Creating this experience is achievable by the very way you design your website and content. Social media sharing and comments sections partially create this experience. Surveys and polls provide the other half. A vibrant community of users can also help brands stand out among their peers. Reddit is a powerful example of this. But even more, creating open-source platforms where people can use, at least parts of the tech, can be a great way to stand out.

But all of this requires time, effort and funding. A much easier way to create this experience is free-to-attend online events, where C-suite audience can come together, talk about industry problems and share their insights. Networking and building lasting business connections appeals deeply to the C-suite.

Our Cafés (with 15 invitees) and Roundtables(with 4 invitees) are our answer to the industry. In both these events, industry leaders come together virtually during the day and enjoy deep discussions on industry topics behind closed doors.

3. High quality content

One thing C-suite audiences don’t have a surplus of is time. Therefore, the moment they smell repetitive or bad quality content, they switch off and disengage. The solution is obvious: you need to create High Quality Content. But defining “high quality content” can be hazardously subjective. So, let’s use the audience’s own words:

  • “The articles are really in-depth”
  • “You learn things first by going to this [media source]”
  • “It offers a variety of different perspectives”
  • “They do a good job of covering things”
How to create it:

Creating high quality content is hard work. Some companies have teams dedicated to research and creating deep content. Such content is not published frequently. A workaround is to commission studies by external consultancies like Gartner, Forrester, BCG, etc.

But teams who don’t have so much time to spare can have another workaround. Co-produce content with experts and get as many perspectives as necessary to build credibility. If five podcast guests say that modernising apps is good for companies, then get a sixth guest who speaks about whom modernisation isn’t for. It’s called acquiring credibility “by dead sincerity”. We do exactly this on our podcast The Show, where we bring a wide variety of perspectives on any given tech topic.

4. Easy for me

This is simply a supplement to the point above. C-suite audience are awash with marketing emails and bad quality content. It’s safe to say they are struggling to keep up with the information glut. They need a quiet hour behind closed doors, carved exclusively for them, where mobile alerts and emails cannot find them. They need content that cuts out the fat and is presented in a way that’s both engaging and easy to digest. So, what do people say?

  • “I can get what I want on this site without having to go through a lot of uninteresting stuff”
  • “If I don’t have a lot of time, this [media source] is perfect for me to get what I need”
  • “This site is very clean and straightforward”
How to create it:

Design is clearly a part of it. But so is the form and the timing of the content. Even the highest quality content will fail if it doesn’t reach the audience at the right place and time and in the right form (Think of the coffee shop example we started with).

Television networks split their programs based on the time of the day. This is called “Dayparting” and is based on the lives of the audience and what they do with their time. Tech marketers, likewise, must get into the shoes of the C-suite and understand what they do throughout their day and schedule their content for appropriate parts. Continuously measuring your response rate, for instance, can show you patterns over a long enough period. And knowing these patterns can be insightful.

For instance, we know that C-suite audience don’t have time for long form content. So, unless it is coming from an extremely credible source, it is not likely to be engaging. We overcome this by creating human-to-human contact in our events, where they can gather information straight from the source.

5. Entertainment and diversion

Not even the C-suite audience wants to work all the time. They’re human too. And they want to have a good laugh at the end of the day. And it’s important that you should factor this human element in your marketing. What people say:

  • “It often makes me laugh”
  • “This website always has something that surprises me”
  • “It is definitely entertaining”
How to create it:

This is quite possibly the hardest nut to crack. Especially because, as a marketer, you rarely get to sit directly across your target audience. One way to do it is by humanising your language, keeping the jargon to the essentials, and injecting wit and humour into the content. Gamification can also work, but if pushed too far can become counterproductive.

We cracked this experience wide open with our highly entertaining, world-famous C-suite networking event, Chief Wine Officer (CWO). They’re just like our Cafés, but with one exciting difference. In CWO events, the audience taste and discover three wines — red, white and sparkling — from around the world, each introduced by a Master of Wine. Finally, they play against their peers to win the title of “Chief Wine Officer” – the best taster in the room. That’s CWO DIGITAL.

If it’s CWO LIVE, the wine tasting is accompanied by gourmet food in star hotels and elegant venues.

How our Digital-to-Human™ (D2H) approachbrings it all together

We bring together all these five experiences in a six-month-long Digital to Human™ campaign. It combines everything from creating and syndicating content to hosting events across our two brands, and Chief Wine Officer. And it puts your sales team in the same room as your key target accounts.

If you want to learn more about how you can work with us, get in touch with us. Everything good starts with a conversation!