Should your content marketing be the same for all CXOs?
For too long now, B2B content has been written for the mysterious CXO. The one who calls the shots. The one who reads The Wall Street Journal. The one who wears suits and ties. The one who “doesn’t go into technical details but cares about the big picture”. But who is this CXO? And what do they want to read or watch?
As a marketer, should you be creating the same content for a CFO as you do for a COO? Should you replicate content targeted at a CTO for the CIO? Do the CSO and the CRO bookmark the same content?
That’s a firm no.
Here’s a quick recap of why every brand must personalize content for different CXOs.
- Their roles and responsibilities would vary, due to which each would have different priorities. The CTO might be convinced to buy your newest line of computers because they promise data security, but the CFO may object to the increase in budget. The CHRO might cite possible demotivation on the part of less digitally savvy employees while the CEO might support the decision because your company is socially conscious.
- The decision-making power they have would differ. Sectors like BFSI give a lot more control to CTOs and CIOs due to the heightened importance of cybersecurity, than do FMCG companies.
- As a function of the above, their challenges and anxieties would differ too. Not all CXOs were created equal after all. For example, if the CRO (Chief Risk Officer) is the newest one in the boardroom, she is looking to prove the importance of her role, and not just how well she performs it.
- The budget each CXO controls would differ. This is a function of the size of the company they work in and the size of the team they lead.
- The structure of their team will affect how much decision-making power they have. For example, a CTO working at a company that has a CIO doesn’t have as much clout as one working at a company that doesn’t have a CIO.
- The content they consume would vary. Not only in terms of the publications or websites they read, but the devices they use, and the formats they consume content in. CEOs, for example, are known to favor data visualizations. Whereas CSOs prefer checklists that they can circulate to their regional sales heads.
All of this is before we recognize that these are human beings with experiences and lives outside the office that will most certainly influence their decision-making in the office as well. A young up-and-coming executive will want to make moves that will show increased productivity in the office, while someone at the tail end of their career might be more focused on keeping the company in the black in the short term.
To ignore all of these finer details of what makes them who they are is to limit your communication’s appeal to a purely professional, cerebral level. Thereby, you miss out on a much deeper connection you could be building with each of them.
Whom do you target with your content?
To answer this question, you must first answer – why are you creating content?
If it is to achieve thought leadership (a common agenda for B2B content), target the reader who would benefit the most from consuming your content, even at the cost of alienating another group of readers (“if your content is for everybody, it is for nobody”).
However, if your content is to drive purchases or enable your sales effort, you need to identify who the true decision-maker is and who influences that decision, so your content pushes your readers further down the sales funnel.
The decision-maker is the person who has the final word on your product. However, she is not necessarily the person who will use your product, so you need to look at the influencer as well. The influencer is the person who will use your product to increase efficiency or revenue in her day-to-day operations. This is the person that the decision-maker will look to for validation and approval on the decision of whether to purchase your product.
Importantly, the influencer can be a CXO as well – a CHRO or CMO will be the influencer when the decision-maker is the CEO or CFO. Make sure you know what role the CXO is playing when you develop and customize your content for them.
How do you personalize content?
First off, build a lexicon/vocabulary.
You may not realize it, but you use a lot of words in everyday life that people from other disciplines do not. Say the word ‘redirect’ to a marketer, and they will start worrying about their site traffic. Say it to a librarian and they will ask you to tell them exactly which book you’re looking for.
In simple terms, you need to speak the language of the designation. If you use the right words, analogies, and anecdotes, the CXO you are talking to is far more likely to respond favourably to your content. For example, using the phrase ‘business bottom line’ will resonate with a CFO, and ‘ROI’ will hold the attention of a CMO. The same applies to the kind of industry the CXO’s company is in – logistics will care about ‘saving time and capital investment’, while a stockbroking company may fret about ‘returns’.
Secondly, be deliberate about your content choices – not just ‘what’ but ‘how’ and ‘where’ as well.
Remember that different CXOs frequent different information sources. The only thing most CXOs have in common is that most of them are looking to learn and evolve, which means they are consuming content willingly. Your job as a marketeer is to find a way to fit right into the platforms they trust.
This also applies to content formats, as we mentioned before. Not everybody reads ‘short, snackable content’. And not everybody wants their thoughts to be led. If you have a topic in mind, spend as much time deciding how to deliver the content as you do on what to write about.
If your CXO is just looking for the top three things to tell their board to increase investment in their pet project, give just that. If they are looking for an e-book that they can circulate among their line managers, give just that.
To crack the formula of talking to CXOs, find the ‘X’.
The key to ace content for CXOs lies in moving from B2B to H2H (Human-to-Human) communication and strategy. Understand that no two people think exactly alike. The more you know about who they are, what matters to them, and how they reach a decision, the more you can influence it.
Contributors: Shrutika Nagpal, Arundhati Dey and Swapnil Adsul