How to develop a successful content strategy for a C-suite audience

Kate Pluth

29 April 2021

The case for targeting the C-suite with quality content is strong. The Economist Group found that 76% of executives say they are influenced in their purchasing behavior by thought leadership. The same report found that 60% felt overwhelmed or confused by the sheer amount of content they encountered – quality control and increasing resonance are a necessity to have your content cut through. 

1. Eliminate effort

Value must jump off the page, in a format that is digestible – don't make your audience work to find the key points you want to communicate. Ensure you're considering a range of media, video being a particular preference at C-level. If your audience find reading a long article a turn off, find another format. If execs are reluctant to share their details to get access, consider what you gain from demanding an email address, if it dramatically reduces the reach of your content. Is the barrier you have built worth the outcome? Always eliminate effort and friction in both the presentation of content and the access to it.

2. Re-evaluate success 

Eliminating effort also means re-evaluating what KPIs are measured. We’ve seen an increasing number of brands look more towards engagement metrics rather than simply downloads when targeting executives. An executive audience are more reluctant to hand out personal details so are easily lost on landing pages when confronted by extensive data fields.

Not getting an email address doesn’t mean that your content isn’t doing its job. Research by The Economist Group found that executives will further engage as a direct result of consuming compelling content – 70% said they would consume more from that same source, 53% said they would sign up to a newsletter, 47% said they would spread the word on social media and most importantly, 83% said they would be influenced in their choice of potential business partner.

Ask the bigger question of whether you are providing a fair exchange of value. The likelihood is that the executive views their details as higher value than the content they are consuming.

3. Understand what drives content consumption 

Carefully consider why senior executives are reading your content. Is it something they need to read to inform a decision they’re deliberating over? Is it something they want to read to differentiate themselves from their peers? Or is it something they should be reading because it educates them on responsibilities and risks relevant to their role?

A blend of content across these different imperatives is vital to capture and retain interest. The C-suite audience spend more time consuming content needed for decision making, so if you also offer content they want to read you will be immediately more valuable. Research by Edelman and LinkedIn found that 60% of decision makers think half or more of the thought leadership they encounter does not provide valuable insights. There is plenty of room for good content producers to stand out.

4. Create value through hyper-relevance 

Hyper-relevance doesn’t require personalized content to every waking need of your audience. It speaks to creating content that is representative of your audience’s key needs, for example featuring customer stories for every vertical industry and size of business will demonstrates your solution in a relevant context for C-suite execs in different sectors. 

Hyper-relevance helps reduce effort for readersBusy execs want to see businesses like their own, not work hard to extrapolate theoretical comparisons across disparate industries. 

5. Social media search optimization over SEO 

Sharing content organically through social media platforms is still important, but with a slightly different goal in mind. Personal feeds are overloaded with content, so cutting through is challenging. However, there is a trend towards using social platforms as content search engines. Ensure your content is present and optimized for discoverability on each relevant social network.

6. Storytelling 

You could be an expert in all of the above, but without strong storytelling your content will underachieve. A compelling narrative and suitable tone of voice is essential.

And provide different types of content. C-suite executives often respond better to video as a media. Mixing the written word with creative, audio and visual elements across your content offering will likely increase engagement. Brafton found that 70% of B2B customers watch a video as part of their research and buying lifecycle, while Quartz found C-suite executives are most drawn to data visualizations – the takeaway being: mixing formats is key.

Just the C-suite? Really? 

Everyone in B2B says they want to engage the C-suite – CEO, CMO, CIO, CCO, etc – but the truth of it is that these programs also need to engage the audiences surrounding the C-level exec. In an enterprise organization the C-suite don’t expect to document granular strategy, determine shortlists, evaluate options, or rank potential suppliers. The C-suite prompts, directs and delegates. And then, later in purchase cycle, authorizes and confirms the final recommendation or expenditure.

Think about that lifecycle. Is your content capturing the imagination of the C-suite and prompting that delegated request to investigate? Are you helping the workload of the strategists and architects who are handed the task? And have you built a level of trust and reputation, so that the C-level exec can commit with preference and confidence.


If you’re looking to engage C-suite decision makers or authorizersaudience specific content should be a core component of your marketing strategy. With over three-quarters of executives saying thought leadership influences their purchasing decisions, if you’re not utilizing content correctly, you’re missing out on sales opportunities. 

Always take an audience-first approach, give execs the content they want to consume rather than just pushing out what you want them to see. Ensure you offer content that’s relevant to their needs so they don’t have to work out relevance. Treat social media as a search engine and ensure content is clearly signposted so your audience know what action to take next. 

If you’d like to learn more about developing a customer-first content strategy read on here.