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Relevance: The key to C-level engagement

December 10, 2008

When it comes to being marketed to, we are all experts. As individuals, we are on the receiving end of thousands of “impressions” every day, the vast majority of which we ignore or dismiss as minor annoyances.

But think about a situation in which you had an immediate need for a product or service or a problem to be solved and someone came along with the right information at the right time.

“It’s amazing,” you think. “They understood my business, knew exactly what I needed and presented well-thought-out solutions to my problems.”

Instead of viewing this person as an annoyance, you were eager to buy. And if you are like me, you were probably even willing to pay more because the salesperson’s knowledge, courteousness, and respect for my time set the tone for the company’s ability to provide great service and added value.

That’s called relevance. And it’s the secret to succeeding with the C-level.

As more purchasing decisions have migrated up to the C-level, being relevant has never been more critical. Executives have very little time, so repeated attempts to get their attention without offering anything relevant will certainly doom your efforts. With the C-level, you get only one shot–so what you have to say better speak to the specific initiatives and challenges that are on his or her mind.

This means you are now in the business of one-to-one marketing. Because what is relevant to one CEO may not be relevant to another. You have to tailor your pitch to each individual, which is time-consuming.

For large, siloed organizations, the pitfalls are many. The lack of information sharing and integration between sales and marketing, business units and programs means that you might have multiple teams independently pitching the same executive a variety of products and services. Put yourself in his shoes and think of how you would feel about the barrage!

So while relevance is the first order of business, integration of your sales and marketing efforts–particularly when targeting the C-level–should be a close second. This is a topic of particular interest to me, so you can expect to hear more about it in this forum.

In the meantime, I would love to hear your thoughts and stories on the topic of relevance as it relates to C-level marketing. Do you have a success story–or a challenge–to share? Post your comments here or email me directly.

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Sharon Gillenwater

About the Author

Sharon Gillenwater

Sharon Gillenwater is the founder and editor-in-chief of Boardroom Insiders, which maintains an extensive database of the most in-depth executive profiles on the market, from Fortune 500 companies to independent non-profits, to help sales and marketing professionals build deeper relationships and close more deals with clients. Gillenwater is a long-time marketing consultant with expertise in marketing strategy, account-based marketing, and CXO engagement programs.