Where the C-suite goes for content


You hear a lot of marketing advice designed to help you get your firm’s message out. Building a strong brand and increasing general awareness of the firm is always a good thing, but putting your content in front of decision-makers’ eyes is what you’re really after.

A new survey by Greentarget examines the content habits and opinions of C-suite executives with decision power over sourcing professional services. It’s a relatively small survey that includes just over 100 C-level executives, but the results offer valuable insight into how these key business leaders view various content types and where they turn for business and industry news and information.

What types of content do they like best?

Articles are the number one content format. In-person information ranks second, while news alerts, interactive charts and content on websites take the third, fourth and fifth positions, respectively. Surprisingly, podcasts are the least popular format among C-suite executives, ranking just above videos. Research reports (#6) and infographics (#7) make a better showing, but still rank low on the preference list.

What draws this audience to the content they read most often?

Usefulness or utility is the clear winner, at 71%. The source of the content takes second with 65%, and tied for third at 52% are the timeliness of the content and its headline or subject line. Despite an increasing focus on long-form content by SEO experts, short pieces attract 26% of those surveyed while only 3% report being drawn to long content. Other factors with a moderate influence include author (23%), visual appeal (19%) and graphics (13%), and a strong point of view (13%). Thirteen percent of survey respondents also said other factors influence the content they turn to most frequently, but the number of likes or shares matters to only a few (3%).

Which content sources do they use on a daily basis?

Email notifications (55%) and traditional media such as the Wall Street Journal (52%) lead the list of content sources decision-makers turn to daily. Social media brings business- and industry-related news and information to 35% of survey respondents each day, while 23% say they never miss a day with trade publications and industry association publications or websites. Websites and blogs by industry thought leaders receive a daily visit from 10% of respondents, but only 3% say they view academic-driven strategy publications or websites and publications created by vendors (e.g. PwC) every day.

And which do they consider the most valuable?

The answers survey participants gave here are a bit surprising, particularly in light of the sources they report using daily:

  • Traditional media (35%)
  • Industry association publications and websites (32%)
  • Academic-driven strategy publications (29%)
  • Trade publications (26%)
  • Industry thought leaders’ websites and/or blogs (23%)
  • Email notifications (19%)
  • Social media (17%)
  • Vendor publications and websites (3%)

As you can see, the people who choose professional services providers for their companies don’t follow quite the same pattern as the general public. That’s to be expected, and it’s an important fact to keep in mind for firms that primarily serve other businesses. If yours is one that does, these survey results can help inform your strategy for where and how to reach leaders that hold the power to grow your client list.


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Sarah Warlick

Sarah Warlick founded Proof Positive Content to provide professional service firms with high-quality content that resonates with their target audiences. Sarah's writing appears in books, on the websites of over a dozen Top 100 Accounting Firms and in Accounting Today, Forbes and other leading publications, but usually under another name. Ghostwriters rarely get the glory - their clients do!