Content That Speaks C-Suite Language


Roanne Neuwirth of the Farland Group ( writes in a post this week for The Content Marketing Institute that McKinsey & Co has mastered the language of the c-suite. McKinsey Quarterly newsletters are read by corporate executives because the subject matter is engaging, relevant, and contains key topics related to global business excellence. Here’s what distinguishes their approach to content that has proven to be so effective:

Data-driven credibility. Whether a survey of hundreds of technology executives or interviews with 15 chief strategy officers, McKinsey starts with peer  insights and gets compelling facts on which to build their content.

Actionable, relevant, timely information. McKinsey focuses on leading-edge management topics that are  top of mind for executives and shares cases, examples and stories of how other executives have taken action on the opportunities and challenges presented. It’s easy to see how to take these ideas into other environments.

Succinct insights. McKinsey extracts the key points, the most relevant highlights and the most provocative  ideas in the layout and design making the key takeaways easily identifiable and consumable.

Channeling their audience. McKinsey moved its  model to a stronger focus on online formats (audio, video, print) and shifted the print publication to quarterly round-ups. It has integrated a strong social and email strategy to ensure that the content gets to executives in formats that matter.

Even though top executives can be challenging to approach, it is well worth the effort. They control the purse strings.  For marketers in the B2B setting, knowing how to attract and engage the attention and commitment of this critical target audience can make a business very successful.


Know that top executives think Return On Investment continuously—whether the investment is their time or the purchasing power they wield. As a rule, the psychographic mindset of the C-suite is to trust a small handful of advisors as subject matter experts. Inherently, most sales approaches are mistrusted and it is very hard to gain enough gravitas to be heard among all the voices clamoring for the right to earn the respect and trust sought.


Farland recommends the following guidelines for their clients to penetrate the C-suite “blockade”:

  1. Hard facts drive credibility… and credibility is key. Content based on data makes an impression on executives; peer-based insights and stories add to the credibility of the data collected
  2. Provide actionable and timely information on issues that matter, in formats that allow ready extrapolation. There has to be a “so what” that comes out of the data and it needs to be up-to-the minute, on topics relevant to the executive’s business, role, and current challenges.
  3. Summarize, summarize, summarize. Deliver your ideas with targeted summaries, succinct points, where the bottom line ideas and actions are easy to extract and consume.
  4. Channel matters. With executives in particular, the content has to be easy for them to access, wherever they are — on their iPad during a flight, in a printed paper to peruse after dinner, or in a short video while waiting for a meeting to start.
  5. Push beyond the common wisdom and top-of-mind trends. Executive content needs to present a provocative vision for future possibilities.
  6. Evolve from technical to strategic. Executives are not interested in reading about technologies and products—those are only a means to an end…Position solutions in terms of the bottom line and what can help grow the business.

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