marketing to the c-suite | looking up at sky scrapers against a blue sky

Is Your Ideal Client Unreachable? Marketing to the C-Suite

A few weeks ago, my friend Brad asked how to reach people who are unreachable – the busy business owners, the principals in large firms, the leaders who run multi-million dollar organizations. Marketing to the C-suite can seem like a mission impossible, I told him. You just need to be creative.


I also told him I’d write about it, so here we are. This article is for you, Brad!


The challenges of marketing to busy leaders


Let’s talk about the challenges in reaching the unreachable. Even if you managed to hunt down their email address, they don’t have the time to read your wonderful monthly newsletter. In fact, their assistant will probably screen and delete it before they even know it’s there.


Are they on LinkedIn? If they are, they probably don’t spend any time on it – their marketing department is the one doing the posting. And you can probably follow them there, but you can’t connect directly with them.


If they’re on Twitter, Instagram, or any other social platform, they have hundreds, thousands, or even more followers. They won’t even notice your comment.


Let’s say you manage to get published in their industry’s major trade magazine. No guarantee they’ll see it, let alone read it. Same with an ad in the magazine. 


The unreachable rely on the experts on their team to keep them informed, provide analysis, and consult on solutions. They can be hard to get a hold of, too, by the way. And some people – at any level at an organization – can be impossible to track down.


One of the biggest nonprofits based in Washington, DC is AARP. A lobbying firm for old people –easy-peasy! Getting a foot in the door as a vendor is harder than getting into the CIA (just kidding – you’ll be swiftly detained if you attempt to drive up to CIA headquarters in Langley, VA). I know many people who have tried to crack into the AARP. All have failed.


Four strategies for marketing to the C-suite


Ask for introductions


Why bother building a network if you’re not going to use it? I’ve written about this before, but it’s always worth repeating:


Go through your connections on LinkedIn. People change jobs and get promoted. Someone you’ve known for a long time could now be sitting in a corner office at a company you’ve wanted to snag as a client for years.


While you’re on LinkedIn, look to see if anyone of your connections are connected to someone who works for a dream client. And if they are, ask for an introduction! (To make that introduction easier, give your person a few sentences to use in the email.)


Build relationships with the connectors


Brad’s clients are business owners running growing companies. His strategy is to build relationships with the connectors – the ones who can make introductions.


I use this myself, but I wanted to hear from Brad about how he approaches this – and how he knows when he’s found a connector. Here’s what he told me during a phone call:


“Finding connectors is a little bit of asking for introductions and a little bit of working with the right vendors. 


“But here’s something that most people don’t think about: You can market to the connectors. All my marketing is actually geared towards connectors more than it is my ideal clients. In order for connectors to connect me with clients, they need to know what I do, and they need to know the problems I solve. That way, when they are in their world and talking to my ideal clients, they think of me.


“All my LinkedIn stuff is being read by connectors, not my clients. All the emails I send out are being read by connectors. The introductions I’m getting and the one-on-one’s I’m doing is with connectors. 


“It can be tougher to know when you’ve found a connector. I did this look-back at the people on my contact list and in my CRM who have historically introduced me to people. I ranked them on certain attributes and found they had three things in common:


  1. They are relevant based on the sector they’re in
  2. They get what I do
  3. I like them


“And the connections they make aren’t always client referrals – they are connections to other connectors who are always introducing me to other people.”


And to bigger vendors who work with your ideal client


This is my number one strategy for reaching the unreachable. 


I own a small marketing agency with niche expertise in content marketing (a fancy way of saying writing and sharing great stuff). Lucky for me, good copywriters are really hard to find – especially those who kick-ass at writing website content.


As a result, I work with a lot of larger marketing agencies who either don’t have any copywriters on staff or not enough to meet clients’ needs. Larger agencies have connections I don’t. They have business development people who are out there finding the big juicy projects. And they need me.


So, when you’re networking, don’t look at a larger company in your industry as a competitor. Look at them as a potential partner who can bring you in on projects. Start building relationships with them today. 


Go to events that your ideal clients also attend


I was reminded of this strategy while watching “WeCrashed,” the story of the spectacular rise and fall of WeWork. (If you haven’t watched it yet, wow. The arrogance of WeWork co-founder Adam and his wife Rebecca is something to behold.)


Anyway, in “WeCrashed,” Adam flies around the world to attend an event just so he can get in front of Masa Son, CEO of Softbank, an eager and generous investor in startups.


I don’t advocate flying around the world at the last minute and having your assistant bully the event organizers into getting you a speaking slot. But it is a smart idea to attend industry conferences, whether it’s your own industry or one you are targeting. 


One of my clients just did this. They attended an industry conference for one of their target markets and walked away with dozens of potential clients.


How do you approach marketing to the C-suite?


I don’t pretend to have all the answers – ever. I’d love to hear how you approach marketing to the c-suite, or which of the strategies listed above you’re most interested in trying. Just leave a comment below!


  • Pam Green
    Posted at 16:27h, 11 April Reply

    I agree, and these are great points. The key is to treat them like supermarkets treat parents. Don’t market to the parents, market to the kids, who influence their parents.. write down their pain points and speak to them over and over and over in writing, videos and networking..

    • Monika Jansen
      Posted at 09:14h, 12 April Reply

      Love the supermarket analogy Pam!

  • Tiffany Turley
    Posted at 13:06h, 12 April Reply

    Great article Monika, and great analogy Pam! Here I go, back over to LinkedIn after abandoning it for all these months to see who I am missing out on 🙂

    • Monika Jansen
      Posted at 09:33h, 13 April Reply

      LOL – yes, always good to keep up with LinkedIn, as people change jobs, get promoted, etc. Good luck!

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