Making The Grade To C-levels

I remember a pitch we had a few years ago. Without getting too detailed, the brand was geared toward C-level executives. As media folks, we tapped into all our sources online and offline, from research tools to advertising reps. We found few venues with a high composition against the target audience. We also found many of the venues to be print versus online. To our dismay, these execs seemed to have a learning curve when it came to the online world.

I found myself going through this exercise again, this time for a client. To my surprise, there isn't a whole heck of a lot of information out there on C-levels. Sure, I was able to pull data from research tools. However, I wanted more than demographics. I wanted pyschographics, technographics and just about anything concrete that I could get my hands on.

So I hit a few e-mail list groups I belong to. I e-mailed through professional network sites. Then I tapped into some friends in the business. They all thought that if anyone were to have the information, it would be me. Luckily enough, then my good friends at Forbes pulled through. I remembered that years ago they'd done the only study that  was focused on this target audience. I was elated to find that they had repeated the study.



After reading it, I couldn't believe how times have changed in a mere few years online. According to the study, conducted in 2005 by Forbes and Insight Express and in conjunction with Gartner G2, C-level execs now flock to the Net. Other top-line findings include:

 Consumption of all media among C-level execs:

Average hours spent per week on media = 41

  • Web                 16

  • TV                   9

  • Radio               7

  • Newspaper      4

  • Magazines        5


    They go online first thing:

  • About 40 percent of C-level execs and top management media consumption is spent on the Web.

  • Nearly all C-level execs start their workday by conducting online research.

  • Nearly 60 percent read business sites/financial e-mails before they start their day.


    Consumption of Web usage:

  • 92 percent use search engines.

  • 68.4 percent say they find what they want online.

  • 67.4 percent participate in online banking.

  • 61.8 percent pay bills online.

  • 55 percent read online reviews of entertainment options.

  • 45.6 percent buy/sell stock or other financial products online.

  • 43.5 percent use the Web to look up movie times and leisure activities for weekend planning.

  • 41.9 percent click on online ads when they find something "interesting."

  • 39.4 percent bid/sell in online auctions.

  • 26.3 percent download music.

  • 25.4 percent watch online videos.

  • 24.1 percent look for job or career information.

    Going online at work

  • 85.1 percent check e-mails before they do work.

  • 75.6 percent do online research.

  • 60.4 percent forward online articles to co-workers and friends.

  • 59.6 percent read business/financial e-mail newsletters.

  • 55.1 percent go online to research competitors and industry trends.

  • 49.4 percent look for product or service info.

  • 49.3 percent check their financial portfolios.

  • 44.6 percent visit financial/business Web sites before they begin working.

  • 35.7 percent read work-related promotional e-mails from marketers.


    Looking at these findings, for sure, some stand out as being obvious. For instance, I would assume C-level executives go online to look up financial information on such products as stocks. However, I was surprised to see that they rely on the Web for leisure activities such as movies and entertainment. Yet thinking about it more, I realized that this does make sense, since C-levels are extremely busy people.

    I was also thrilled to see that they click on ads and open e-mail that relates to them. This reinforces the fact that we as marketers and advertisers need to establish ourselves as trusted brands. Hey, let's face it, if a CEO is opening your promotional e-mails, then you are doing something right. Know of other ways to make the grade with C-levels? Or maybe you'd like to see more asked in a future study? If so, post to the Spin Board. In the meantime, I wonder if my boss will read this.
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