Captivating the C-Suite and Driving Conversions With Earned Influence
Being recognized as a thought leader whose ideas and expertise are shared by authoritative news agencies and influencers can greatly benefit a company in reaching and selling to the C-suite. Having your bylines featured in reputable news agencies establishes credibility and trust among the C-suite executives. Learn how to become a thought leader.
CONTENT MARKETINGC-SUITESOCIAL MEDIA MARKETINGC-SUITE MARKETINGMARKETINGINFLUENCERSINFLUENCER MARKETING
Earned Influence is a form of publicity gained through promotional efforts rather than paid advertising, and has emerged as a powerful tool to capture the attention of the C-suite and convert them into buyers. In this blog post, we will explore the process of leveraging earned influence, discuss best practices, and provide compelling statistics to demonstrate its effectiveness in driving conversions.
Earned Influence is a subset of earned media a topic we have explored in prior articles including:
The reason that earned influence is such a powerful tool to capture the attention and convert the C-suite is because it leverages the credibility and trustworthiness of the source that is sharing it.
We spend a lot of time discussing tools and strategies that utilize the laws of influence and leveraging strategies because there are so many startups, early-stage companies, and companies with limited resources that cannot afford to engage other marketing strategies that can obtain similar results.
Many more people are becoming aware of the term earned influence as part of an earned media strategy that comes about as a result of your having established yourself as a thought leader. Earned influence is earned media that’s relevance and placement is maximized so that your targeted personas — in this case, the CXOs — are motivated to make further inquiries. This involves using highly targeted television, digital, trades, and national business media platforms to interview company stakeholders or publish content about your products, services, or company.
The best part of earned influence is that it has staying power. The blog written about your company or the online news article from the Wall Street Journal will often continue to appear in search results for years. Earned influence can also influence buyers at all stages of the buying process. It can create awareness at the top of the funnel and validation at the consideration stage. C-Suite executives will consider it more authentic and truthful because of the publication they saw it in.
Your earned influence strategy is a key part of all comprehensive inbound marketing plans. While executing an effective earned media program is not easy—it takes time, connections, and perseverance—it is one of the more effective springboards to obtaining C-Suite awareness. These earned influence efforts can have a tremendous impact on how the CXO becomes your champion in the Boardroom.
Using Earned Influence in Traditional Public Relations
As with all marketing engagements, the game is won or lost based on how well you understand the marketplace and your targeted audience. If you are not doing both a comprehensive Discovery and Assessment Process as well as Buyer Persona Reports, you will never gain traction.
As part of these two initiatives, you will identify where the CXOs go for information and third-party verification, allowing you to target the most strategic media outlets. A constant theme here is that CXOs look to traditional media (newspapers, wires, and magazines), and even online versions of those outlets that pertain to their industry or general economic or business concerns. A study in 2015 analyzed 98,079 tweets from CXOs and found that they shared information from the following publications:
The Wall Street Journal
Harvard Business Review
Imagine how beneficial it would be to have a CXO read an independent article in one of these publications that is heaping praise on your product, service, or company. Traditional sources of news followed by Influencer-driven coverage were deemed the most trustworthy by CXOs.
A major PR agency conducted a study in 2015 and found that almost half of those interviewed (47%) considered “earned media as the most influential medium for driving purchasing decisions and business outcomes,” (Bulldog Reporter).
Using Social Influencers to Capture the C-Suite
Having social influencers share your executive's quotes and bylines in their social media post will not only bolster the image of the executive but by extension the company. We all now live in one or more social networks, not just for entertainment but to obtain news stories.
If a respected influencer is sharing information, even a quote from a company's executive, it is deemed more trustworthy and authentic than if found on the company's website. If you want to sell to a member of the C-suite having your executive being showcased might be the first impression or the defining moment when they want to engage you in business. Especially if the post is further amplified by the public.
As both customers and influencers tweet or write about your brand, CXOs will take notice. In 2014, the International Data Corporation conducted a study and found that “84% of C-level/ vice president executives use social media to support purchase decisions” (IDC).
Research Analyst Reports
Research Analysts work at brokerage houses, investment banks, and research companies and compile industry and company-specific reports. The information is well-researched, and since these reports are relied upon for investment purposes, they are regarded as a highly authoritative source of information.
It doesn’t take much to realize how valuable it would be to have your product, service, or company receive a positive recommendation from an independent research analyst. A comprehensive inbound marketing program that targets a persona in the C-Suite needs to impact the research analyst reports as part of its earned influence program.
Practical Application - An effective inbound marketing program is a comprehensive marketing endeavor that involves being able to identify the content, elements, and programs that will resonate with your targeted buyer personas. C-Suite marketing is no different. As part of your effort to reach and influence the C-Suite, it will be important to have third-party validated articles in appropriate trade, technology, and national business press editorial platforms — as well as broadcast, when appropriate.
Having a complete analyst relations program designed to introduce your client to firms that both publish and advise on their industry is crucial to securing C-Suite buy-in. In addition, it’s important to cultivate industry influencers who will become brand advocates.
The brand advocate process is meant to provide many intellectual and emotional touchpoints originating from third-party experts so that your audience can begin to see your brand as a valued advisor and source of information that addresses their concerns and problems.
Proactive pitching - The proactive pitching and education of news media can get your executive to be an industry influencer. Here are some targets you should focus on:
Top-tier US-based National Business Publications - Businessweek, Fortune, Fast Company, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, TechCrunch, Fortune, CIO, The Next Web, IDG, Wired, Business Insider, etc.
Industry Trade Publications - Research and identify target industry analysts who cover the business intelligence and analytics market. Launch a proactive analyst relations program to reach out to the target analysts and set up in-person, phone briefings and presentations.
Industry analysts may include Forrester Research, Gartner, IDC, 451 Research, Ovum, Constellation Research, Current Analysis, Hurwitz & Associates, VDC Research, etc.
Blogger & Industry Influencers - Develop a database of both blogger and industry influencers whom you should begin to interact with and cultivate. This involves Influencer outreach and engagement to build a relationship with individuals who have a strong social reach; individuals who will eventually become brand advocates because they understand and appreciate the unique value proposition.
Being recognized as a thought leader whose ideas and expertise are shared by authoritative news agencies and influencers can greatly benefit a company in reaching and selling to the C-suite. Having your bylines featured in reputable news agencies establishes credibility and trust among the C-suite executives. When they see that your insights are valued and endorsed by trusted sources, they are more likely to view your company as a reliable and knowledgeable partner.
Influential individuals and thought leaders have the power to shape opinions and influence decision-making in the C-suite. When they share and promote your company's expertise and offerings, it creates a strong impact and increases your visibility among top-level executives. Finally, being a recognized thought leader positions your company as an industry expert. This helps to differentiate your brand from competitors and allows you to command higher value in the eyes of the C-suite, making it easier to sell your products or services to this exclusive audience.