On the latest episode of the C-Suite Marketing podcast, I caught up with my colleague Bev Burgess, Senior Advisor to ITSMA and author of Executive Engagement Strategies: How to Have Conversations and Develop Relationships That Build B2B Business, about why she wrote the book and how marketing leaders can take a holistic approach to program development.
Most important, according to Bev, is starting at the beginning!
If you’re going to avoid “random acts of executive engagement,” she explained, it’s critical to take the time up front to fully assess why you’re investing, how you’re going to work across your own organization, and which accounts and executives are most important to the effort.
Some questions to ask:
- Who wants it? You need to know the driving force behind the initiative. Who’s asking you to create an Executive Engagement Program? Do they have budget and decision-making authority? You need to make sure that your program has an executive sponsor, because if you don’t, you might as well not start.
- Why are you investing? As with any new program or initiative, you need to begin with the why and really understand what you’re trying to achieve. Your program needs a clear and specific rationale, or it will quickly try to become everything to everyone, which is too broad and generic to have any real impact.
- Who are you trying to reach? It’s critical to understand your target audience in the early stages of any client-focused marketing campaign. To determine this, you need to ask some questions about the goals of your Executive Engagement program: Is it about deepening relationships in existing accounts? Are you trying to sell new services or solutions to your key accounts? Do you want to build new relationships in new accounts, new sectors, or new markets?
- How are you engaging with executives? This isn’t just about creating another website or thought leadership piece to hawk your wares. Instead, you need to start with insight and stakeholder profiling. First, ask what the executives you’re trying to reach care about and what are they dealing with? Then, create the content, focusing not on you, but on them –what would they like, find useful, and deem valuable? Why would they engage with you?
- What does success look like? The only way to determine if you’re achieving your objectives is to measure the impact of your actions. Set specific metrics to align to your activities.
Bev also suggested some pointers to help keep you on track as you go through the assessment above:
- Scope it out. You need to add parameters and limits, because this could grow quickly. Which companies are in and which companies are out? Where are you drawing the line? And why? How many executives in each company? What roles or titles? You might want to be a bit ruthless here because it’s better to start small and grow methodically than start too big and never get a handle on it.
- Give it time. While the assessment above seems simple, you need to be patient. It could actually take a lot of time to get started because the team has to agree on which companies are included, which roles, etc. And your internal leadership will be championing their key accounts first.
- Build the team. Who are the right people internally to involve in the program? Who can make decisions and open doors? Who are the best people to create a mutually beneficial long-term relationship with your clients’ executives?
Bev’s advice is certainly not limited to getting started with executive engagement. Many companies already have C-Suite marketing and relationship initiatives, often stemming from their ABM programs. No matter what stage you’re in, taking an orchestrated approach to executive engagement will get results quicker and create a stronger foundation for longer-term innovation and growth.
In addition to discussing how to get started with C-Suite Marketing, Bev and I talked about:
- Why it’s become so important for companies to connect with client executives
- The best reasons to invest in creating an orchestrated approach to executive engagement
- The connections and the differences between account-based marketing and executive engagement programs
- And more!
ITSMA's Rob Leavitt catches up with colleague Bev Burgess, author of Executive Engagement Strategies, about how marketing leaders can approach program development.