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Marketing to C-Level Decision Makers: 5 Tips from the Research

c-level decision makers


Access to highly coveted C-level decision makers is tricky for economic developers. There are thousands of locations (aka competitors) demanding their attention, and a decision may only be made every few years depending on the company. What’s an economic developer to do?

While our niche audience of corporate executives responsible for site location decisions is an elusive bunch and doesn’t always react to the typical marketing tactics other B2B marketers use, we nevertheless combed through the research from outside economic development and uncovered the following insights for EDOs to consider in the New Year. Both marketers and business developers should take note.

1. Targeting “The Insiders”

Conventional wisdom tells us that CXOs are usually the ones making big business decisions. However, according to this infographic from, 81% of non-C-suiters have a say in B2B purchase decisions. We’d call these “the insiders” who play into the final call. DCI has noticed the same trend from our own analysis, where meetings we’ve arranged were evenly dispersed across operations, human resources, real estate, legal and strategy VPs or directors, depending on the size of the company.

2. Be Search Engine Savvy

C-Level decision makers are increasingly using main stream search engines to find information themselves. The same infographic above tells us that 71% of B2B buyers start in a generic search query with one of two intents: to inform or to purchase. And 90% of B2B buyers online use search specifically to research business purchases. This would support one of DCI’s key findings from our Web-to-Leads analytics, which shows that 68% of companies that became lead opportunities reached an EDO’s website from Google, by far the most common source of visitation.

3. Know When to Reach Them…

Thinking strategically about email distribution timing may just boost open rates. According to Marketing Sherpa, the highest level job title segment has the highest open rate — by a pretty wide margin — on Sunday mornings between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. Your “workweek” just became a bit more interesting! This research is supported by, which found that that CEOs spend an average of 2.4 hours working on weekends, and are mostly likely to wake up by 6 a.m.

4. …And Where to Find Them

Myth: C-suite decision makers do not click on display ads. Myth Buster: Actually, according to B2B marketing-tech firm Bizo, they often engage with and take action based on banner ads. So, where should such ads be placed? The C-suite spends the most time on sites for job searches, rental cars, training and education, and online trading. Executives also spend time on business news sites, business databases and tools, financial information and advice sites, and vertical industry sites. We can think of a few applications here…

5. Talk the Talk

The roles of the C-suite are shifting towards more strategic thinking and planning. Conversations with the C-suite should follow suit. According to, executives value business expertise 4 times more than conversations about products and services. It’s no secret that having a working knowledge of trends, events and industry changes important to your target C-suiter builds rapport, but there’s an awful lot of “look at me” marketing out there in the economic development space as well. How can EDOs supply more of the expertise executives seek? The answer should drive your strategy in 2017.

Reflecting on the five takeaways above, a lot of the information we’re seeing points to an increasingly digital approach to lead generation.

Written By

Kate Penniall

Kate has worked in research for a variety of entities from a large public company to a local arts and music festival. As DCI's Research Associate, Kate assists both economic development and tourism clients with their research needs.

More Articles by Kate Penniall

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