Sign In

Where are the C-suite?

RM: As a marketer yourself, what are the 3 core ingredients that you take into consideration when producing content directed at the C-Suite?

William Douglas

William Douglas, CMO of JLL EMEA

WD: The 3 ingredients for me would be:

  1. Invest in the right channel
  2. Keep it real
  3. Quality all the way

Although time-poor, the C-suite look for knowledge every single day – about their competitors, their markets, about trends. The data shows that. So there’s a daily opportunity to intercept.

RM: What is it about the “right” channel that’s so key?

WD: There are so many channels to choose from. And you probably won’t invent a new habit. So you have to be realistic – the C-suite won’t visit your corporate blog or content site as part of their morning routine.

Wide distribution is key - don’t just put it on your corporate blog and sit and hope. Instead, focus on inserting your content in the channels they already go to. Whether that’s the FT, or other news sites, you have to find that out and get your content there. Advertorials are great in that sense.

RM: What about other channels?

The C-suite are on Facebook

The C-suite are on Facebook

WD: I’m a big fan of Facebook. 1. It has lots of people - the C-suite are on Facebook, whether they admit it or not. 2. It has brilliant targeting tools. 3. It’s the social platform where people are in “content consumption” mode.

But the unsexy and often over-looked channel is email. Every single C-level spends hours and hours in their inbox. Marketers overlook it because they think it’s spam, or it’s done too much. But if you do it right (please get the subject line right!) it’s probably the no.1 option.

RM: What do you mean by keeping content “real”?

WD: C-suites like myself hate to be pitched to. We can see it a mile off. I want some insights. It has to be interesting to people. At JLL it’s easy to switch from real estate to office spaces, to hotels and generate content that means something to our audience.

When I worked in the tech world, we had to work a little harder to make our content real. But every industry has to take the time to do it. And don’t trick people – don’t give me a headline on “Interest rates and the effects on Saudi Arabian oil” when the article, when you click through, is about shopping centres. That’s extremely frustrating.

If you’re in content for short-term, don’t bother. Content needs to be altruistic - don’t try and close in the thought leadership phase.

RM: Why is quality so important?

WD:  If people are going to read it, it has to be written well – and people so often skip that. Usually it’s business people or researchers writing the content. Actually, what you need are journalists; people that are experts at writing in a human way, not for an industry. Yes this can sometimes create business tension - but marketing has to play a strong role internally getting the balance between intriguing and academic right.

Don’t just give me an academic, peer-reviewed type paper with nothing human behind it. I don’t stop being a C-level when I go home, and I’m still a father when I’m at work.

RM: What common mistakes immediately turn you off when reading content? 

WD: Pitching. Some businesses think that content is a good marketing trick. Actually it needs to be more altruistic – it has to be thought leadership. Show that you know a lot about interest rates, or the global economy, or whatever. Because later down the line is when I may close with you. Don’t try and close in the thought leadership phase. We need to be brave about that.

In my opinion, if you’re in content for short-term, don’t bother. There’s better digital advertising or social activities you could do that are more sales related. And make your content snack-able. Instead of a long report that no-one is going to read,  section it up and use it 15 times. Tell me your message lots of times, in lots of different ways – I’ll get it.

Look around you on your way home, you’ll get the C-level playing Candy Crush Saga.

RM: Tell us about the devices and mediums you most prefer 

WD: I haven’t touched a piece of print in a few years…but I do consume things that are printed online. I read the newspapers in the morning and digital magazines in the evening on my iPad. And if it’s not a good iPad experience I’ll stop reading.

RM: What about the rise of mobile? What should brands consider about this? 

WD: Particularly on social links, mobile is good. If someone catches me on lunch with an interesting tweet, or Facebook post, I’ll click through it. I’d say don’t try and target the C-suite too late in the day. When a C-level is at the office, they’re busy getting on with their day. Catch them early, when they’re commuting. We’ve even been trailing advertising in the evening on games – look around you on your way home, you’ll get the C-level playing Candy Crush Saga.

RM: What do you see as the future of content marketing for the C-Suite?

WD: I hope people will start being more altruistic with content. I don’t want to sound like a disconnected marketer – I’m actually very commercially-minded. But you have to understand that marketing is a funnel activity – you do things now that are meant to help you later.

Content is the same for me – it won’t generate a direct lead. I mean, you’ll get the occasional case study, but broadly that’s not the point. It’s part of the customer journey to hit and influence people at multiple points. Marketers need to be comfortable with that, and fight that argument within their business.

Also I think that the poor quality content out there will start to disappear. Content is a buzz-word at the moment in the marketing world. But content is actually an expensive resource to invest in. When those companies realise that the poor-quality content isn’t working, they’ll soon stop.