Social Media Selling to the New CEO

Posted By on Sep 2, 2009 | 9 comments


It is going to happen.

The Baby Boomer generation is going to slowly trickle out of the top spots in companies all over the world and Generation X is going to take thier place. How are you positioning your company to sell to the next CEO?

There are individuals who have different ideas on how to market directly to leaders of companies. There are direct mail campaigns, email marketing, event marketing, and offline networking. However, the world is slowly changing.. let me rephrase that.. the world is fast approaching a digital community of business owners and entreprenuers who are creating content and communicating on a level that was never possible… until now.

LinkedIN is posting 5% growth in July. Facebook is growing at an exponential rate among men 26-34. Even Plaxo and Twitter are making strides into the world of B2B selling. Are you supporting your company to market to the next generation of CEOs?

The next generation of CEOs are going to connect on an entirely different level than their predecessors. Email and newsletters are going to be a thing of the past and the new social economy will welcome them with open arms.

We have a global community of people presenting ideas and content on a daily basis to help run businesses at a smoother, more profitable rate. Why are you not involved in this process? Is valuable content such a scary proposition?

Share your ideas on a blog. Start a LinkedIN group for young professionals. Invest in the 25-38 year old demographic (both male/female) and watch the leads start to generate as they take positions of power in the company.

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9 Comments

  1. I'm glad you posted this Kyle. This is a really important issue. Its really easy for people to assume that their way of the seeing the world is the way that everyone else sees it. It also easy to presmume that historical reasons for success will the reasons for future success. Making sure you understand the world view of your customer/client is a critical business to business success factor.

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    • Amen Paul. Great thoughts. It is almost imperative that you shift marketing with your client base.

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  2. Great post, Kyle. It's not just the changing of the generational guard at top levels. The influencers at a professional level are going to be Gen Y's. They need marketing/selling to also and they won't respond to emails or direct mail (like my kids). You'd better know how to Facebook/My Space/Twitter them or text them if you want their attention.

    BTW – there's also the leaders of a country. In Australia, this piece appeared in the national newspaper today on how the Federal and State leaders are considering social networking to appeal to voters. http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,2519

    There are lots of reasons to consider. Those that get on board now have an advantage.

    Iggy Pintado

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  3. I have to say, Kyle, I agree – but I disagree.

    I agree with selling creative ideas to CEOs and that Gen X is slowly but surely taking over. I personally don’t think that will be the “norm” for the next 15 to 20 years, but it’s happening. So if you want to create a plan geared toward the new CEO’s, good for you.

    Where I disagree is targeting CEOs according to age groups. Oh, I know different age groups supposedly have different ways of approach. For instance, most of the women and men of my generation won’t necessarily buy from a younger person because that young person thinks they know better. We want to know you’re not some smart, “hip” guy trying to sell us stuff that has been untried and untested.

    However, what I think you’re forgetting is that many of the baby boomers are leaving corporate America and making our own way. We are taking our years of knowledge from print, newspapers and ad agencies, and are now tearing the world a new hole through social media. The difference is that we’re well established and know what our strong suits are. I personally have traveled around the world, read and write five languages, have run million dollar budgets… and I walked away from corporate America because I refused to fit the mold anymore.

    The point is that, while age groups may have stereotypes just like any other group, not everybody fits in the stereotype. If you take “hip, new, generation x” language to a Gen X CEO that doesn’t fit the “Gen X” mold, you could easily make a mistake that costs your company millions. Rather than targeting age groups, doesn’t it make more sense to target a specific type of person? Better yet, why not target individuals?

    While individual B2B interaction in a face-to-face setting may be going the same way as the baby boomers, social media allows the same (if not as personable) type of interaction. You have to know how to communicate with people – not just a specific group, but individuals. You have to know how to gauge your actions and your strategy in order to have a successful campaign. In conclusion, I am not saying don't invest in the future, but invest in society as a whole and watch your business grow and flourish.

    P.S. Not to tell you what to do, but… if you're passing yourself off as a social media expert, you might want to use your spell checker…

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    • Gabriella,
      I'm going to start at the bottom of the message and say that I don't pass myself off as a social media expert. I am merely trying to present an idea. I'm sorry if some words are misspelled but I have terrible grammar to begin with.. our projects still create results.

      I do understand where I am coming from and actually agree with you. It is hard to get a deep point across without typing 23092 words and creating a blog post that no-one will read.

      I was simply trying to make the point to understand the concepts of social media interaction being a key to connecting with the next business leaders. Maybe I should have stated CEO as CEO and not catered to older generations… to that I apologize. I tend to stereotype because of my age (25) which I try to keep at a minimum. Shelly know that and she has experienced my age. :-)

      Thank you so much for this interaction and it helps me realize how different people work. It is hard to write something when it is so in-depth. I try to generalize to get a point across.

      And Shelly has told me multiple times to use my spell checker. I will do it for the both of you.

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  4. Amen to that, Gabriella, and I echo your sentiments exactly. Hasty generalizations and stereotyping can often be the undoing of many an intelligent person – so let's try hard not to do those things. I'm at the tail end of the Baby Boomer generation and I'm not getting "out of the way" any time soon, have a great grasp of technology and have the benefit of years of experience, knowledge and connections to help my clients and produce great results. So don't let's put people into boxes … "cool/uncool" "hip/unhip" "savvy/not savvy" …. let's respect our differences, develop strategies to suit specific goals, use different tools and tactics as needed to suit the goals of our clients and we'll all win.

    Well said – thanks for sticking up for the rest of us "not quite ready to be put out to pasture peeps, Gaby."

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    • Sorry. I did not mean to stereotype. I was just trying to make the point of evolving and educating on new forms of communication as a company. :-)

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  5. Maybe it was a comment you made that gave it the stereotype mentality: "Invest in the 25-38 year-old demographic (both male/female) and watch the leads start to generate as they take positions of power in the company." Suffice it to say, I don't agree with that comment. I, too, was 25 once, but during those years, I was still discovering the world one trip at a time. The Internet was still in its infancy!

    However, I always worked with people, whether in the hospitality industry or in an advertising/marketing agency. Then, when the Internet came along brought worldwide reach closer, my international background helped me jump on board. Since then, I have always had the good sense to learn how to use the latest technology.

    Targeting age groups is a definite strategy, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think it’s applicable in this medium. For example, my company’s target group is small to medium size business, which, by definition, includes CEOs. However, I would never assume or propose a marketing project, SEO consultation or anything else for that matter, based on the age of that CEO. Instead, the marketing project should be based on their niche market. As well, when aiming for my target group, I don’t aim for age, but for the business type. I hope that makes sense…

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