Rejoice marketers for I come bearing good news. According to a survey, a full 80% of all CEOs don’t trust us or the work we are doing.
Wait. What? That’s not quite good news.
Let me try this again—after all, messaging and positioning is what we do.
Marketers, welcome to the marketing-driven era of business. The dawning of a new day, where a full 20% of CEOs believe in us and our efforts.
Yeah, that didn’t sound much better.
It’s clear we as marketers must improve how we involve chief executives (and for that matter other members of the executive team) into our marketing strategies. Not out of a feudalistic desire to protect our jobs, teams and budgets, but ultimately to maximize the impact of our efforts.
Regardless of your CEO’s background (even those from, *GASP*, engineering and technical worlds) or current feelings toward marketing, content marketing is a great starting point to invite your chief executive aboard your bigger marketing strategy.
1. Start with a simple ask
Instead of begging for more technology, talent and time to prove-out ROI, ask your executives for something only they can give and won’t increase your marketing budget one penny: their voice.
While asking, share how valuable their opinion and insight could be for feeding a proven appetite of your target audience.
“We could really use your unique perspective and voice to spice up some things we are doing to attract customers.”
“We are starting to attract an audience and they are begging to hear more from you.”
“I loved that presentation you gave the board last week, our prospects would really enjoy hearing it.”
By combining your existing content strategy and brand’s personality with your CEO’s specific strengths, you can mix up a potent cocktail to supercharge content-marketing results.
When done right, this could be the easiest marketing you’ve ever done—because what CEO wouldn’t want to be a bit more like Elon Musk, Richard Branson or John Legere?
2. Outfit your executives to thrive
While a CEO’s communication duties once consisted of reading prepared statements (after crises and before earnings’ calls) and answering the occasional analyst’s (or reporter’s) question—things have evolved, drastically.
For many of today’s most successful executives, CEO takes on a whole host of new meanings:
- chief engagement office—drives interaction with customers, competitors and influencers via social media
- chief entertainment officer—builds a loyal audience with can’t-miss content
- chief educational officer—shares valuable insight, candid commentary and relevant updates tailored to target personas
Empower your executives to inject their own voices into your company’s unique story, establishing a personal connection with customers (and prospects) and boosting all of your content marketing efforts.
3. Have a voice
While it’s tempting to mold your CEO into a mouthpiece for your existing content strategy, or worse an imitation of another executive, focus on leveraging an executive’s experience and expertise into compelling, unique content your customers will love.
A few simple places to start:
- blog posts in their own voice about how they solved a problem many of your customer face
- recall personal anecdotes of mistakes they made and the lessons they learned
- share a taste of their true passions (both personally and professionally)
- motivate employees, customers and prospects by demonstrating real-life examples of what your mission means
4. Be consistent
Your CEO need not wait for a crisis, big product release, or industry event to show up and sound off. Instead, establish a rhythm and have your CEO stick to it.
It can be as simple as one blog post once a month (or even a quarter). Whatever the frequency, be consistent. Include your CEO into your existing editorial process, aligning their subject matter into the larger themes of your existing content strategy.
Soon enough, instead of dreading their deadlines, your CEO will be giddy to participate and an engaged contributor to planning your upcoming editorial calendar.
5. Be where the people are
As busy as your executives are, it’s important their content marketing efforts remain hyper-focused on reaching a well-calibrated audience. While those at consumer-facing company might focus on engaging with a mass-audience via social media, a CEO at a B2B company might write industry-specific posts for LinkedIn, or better yet, relevant industry sites and publications.
Think strategically about distributing your CEO-created content and parlay the inherent authority their experience and title commands into guest-posting gigs at the publications your audience knows and trusts.
6. Stand for something
Before deploying your big guns on the battlefield for attention, sharpen your executives’ rhetorical aim. Unsure of what to target? Consider these two successful frameworks:
1. Have your CEO play an active role in a larger, familiar and ongoing narrative. Piggy-back on issues and current events driving discussion and position your company (represented by your CEO) as an actor in the story.
Ex.: The face, voice and brand of Virgin, Richard Branson has perfected the ability to interject his personality (and various companies) into popular discourse.
2. Pick an enemy (real or imagined; a single competitor or an entire industry), take a stand and fight back. Some of the most successful CEO-driven content marketing centers around this timeless narrative.
Ex.: For Elon Musk, and Tesla, the goal has never been to make and sell cars, but instead to lead an electric revolution against the gas-powered automotive complex.
True, but achieving a long range affordable electric vehicle has always been our long-term goal. Due in late 2017! https://t.co/2OrIYdoojs
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 22, 2015
Unsure of where to start, try these simple steps in the next month:
- Find examples of CEOs successfully producing compelling content and share the case studies with your executives.
- Choose a recent, relevant issue or event and have your CEO weigh in with a post on LinkedIn or Medium.
- Start a practice of your executives curating and commenting on relevant updates and news on Twitter (or other social networks—including relevant industry forums).
- Encourage your CEO to take a stand on a hot issue and work with a respected industry publication to land your CEO a guest column. If all goes well, it might become a recurring column.
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