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Think Like a CEO: How to Talk Tech to Executives

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Think Like a CEO How to Talk Tech to Executives

The further away from the IT department you get, the more difficult it is to find people who know and understand what needs to take place so that technology is the pathway to innovation, rather than its obstacle.

The IT people down in the trenches are out doing the daily stuff that needs to get done to keep the company going. Their bosses get it, too. The big, expensive changes that need to take place make perfect sense to them. But there’s a problem.

The further away from the IT department you get, the more difficult it is to find people who know and understand what needs to take place so that technology is the pathway to innovation, rather than its obstacle. By the time you get to the C-Suite, the specific and highly technical conversations you facilitate as a thought leader likely have little or no impact. These people don’t speak your language, and they’re the decision-makers who write the checks.

So, how do you present technology issues to these decision-makers in a way that engages them and helps them understand what must be accomplished – while at the same time not making it dumb and insulting to IT executives?

Speak their language

A technology issue is generally single faceted. It impacts one thing within the enterprise. Top executives are used to thinking holistically. They’re tasked to make strategic decisions that will impact top- or bottom-line issues for the entire organization.

When you’re creating content, you want to position yourself as a thought leader for this group, you’ll have to change the perspective away from technology-centric to a business cause-and-effect. For example:

  • How will it impact the regulatory environment where they operate?
  • How will it accelerate innovation and speed to market?
  • How will it help the enterprise become more data-driven?
  • How can your expertise as a thought leader help the CEO or board reach business goals attached to efficiency and productivity?

These are “big-picture” themes. They’re all impacted by technology, but they all have a business case attached to them. When you are able to create scenarios that show how technology can improve the customer experience or remove slowdowns caused by regulatory stipulations, you’re communicating the way these executive decision-makers approach choosing.

Serve it up right

Framing your content to position yourself as a thought leader means making sure you’re presenting it in the format these decision-makers prefer. This starts with establishing your credibility. IDG reports that technology decision-makers trust content credibility when it’s associated with a trusted third-party.

Marketing expert and author Glenn Gow reports that over 75% of the B2B buying process takes place online, and decision-makers engage with an average of three content assets about a vendor or company for every single piece the vendor or company publishes themselves. Establishing yourself as a thought leader can’t be done in a vacuum.

Pass the white paper

Decisions about technology call for in-depth information, and nothing is better at delivering this than white papers. Nearly 70% of tech-buyers say this is their second most preferred way to reach a decision. These decision-makers are not impressed by hype. They want objective information presented in a straightforward manner. You’re going to lose them if your white paper is more like a marketing brochure.

Video’s place

Video is B2B’s new marketing best friend. And, while consumer-facing product videos tend to be short and sweet, IDG research shows that technology related videos and webcasts garner a significantly longer attention span. IDG reports that tech-related videos generate favorable reactions in viewers:

  • 67% have moved forward with product research
  • 56% have visited a vendor website or contacted the vendor to request additional information

Take a page from Neil deGrasse Tyson’s playbook: Be truthful. When was the last time anyone other than Tyson made astrophysics interesting? He doesn’t dumb it down. Even so, he manages to create fascinating explanations about complex issues for most of his fans, who are far from being astrophysicists.

His advice: “Don’t make it read like a curriculum. Look for what’s mind-blowing and connect different phenomena into a coherent whole.” In other words, find and present the business case.

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