Sharon Gillenwater, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Boardroom Insiders, took some time out recently to tell us about Alacra’s newest content partner and why a CEO might need to know “everything about everyone in the room – right down to the color of socks they wear.”
1. Tell us about Boardroom Insiders
Boardroom Insiders offers the most in-depth executive profiles on the market. I founded the company in 2008 because I had been advising enterprise companies on CXO engagement strategy and found there was no one tool out there that provided deep information on C-level executives. While there were lots of services that provided bare bones biographical info, my clients needed more insight into the people behind the titles, their personal interests and business initiatives. This is what Boardroom Insiders provides today–deep information about Fortune 500 CXOs and other executive decision makers.
2. What are some typical uses for Boardroom Insiders content?
Mainly account planning and meeting preparation. Our primary end-users include enterprise sales and marketing pros, executive recruiters and consultants. Executive-level events are big drivers; for example, a CEO hosting a group of customers for a golf outing or a thought leadership roundtable. One client told us, “When our CEO hosts these events, he wants to know everything he can about everyone in the room–right down to the color of socks they wear.”
3. What makes your content unique?
We like to say that no one wants to do what we want to do because it is such hard work. Unlike a lot of information companies, we do not auto-generate our content by scraping from the Internet. Our customers don’t have time to wade through a bunch of links that are irrelevant or out of date. So our profiles are hand-crafted by business analysts who make judgements on what is relevant and they are continually updated to ensure they stay current. Secondly, we provide depth from both a personal and a business perspective. Many of our profiles contain rich detail on an executive’s upbringing and family life as well as information on current business initiatives and challenges. In this way we fill a big knowledge gap for our customers. We pull from traditional sources such as trade magazines and business publications as well as nontraditional sources such as alumni magazines, Twitter feeds and YouTube videos of speeches and interviews. We include lots of quotes–we want to use their own words whenever possible.
4. What do customers like best about Boardroom Insiders?
Two things. Our content and ease of doing business with us. We consistently get glowing feedback on our profiles, even from account teams that thought they knew everything there was to know about their customer. We have helped our customers uncover new sales opportunities with key accounts that they had no idea existed. So there is a lot of added value and ROI associated with our content. Second is customers are typically surprised about how easy it is to do business with us. We are a small company, so we are nimble, flexible and extremely responsive to customer feedback and requests. If a customer needs a profile that we do not have in our database, they can special order it and receive it within 48 hours. If a customer finds that a profile in our database needs updating, we move it to the top of the queue.
5. What business trends are you spotting among your customers?
We’re seeing a big focus on improving relationships with key accounts and existing customers. CXO engagement is a big part of this, which is why companies are seeking the type of information we provide. Secondly, corporate budgets have been very tight ever since we founded the company. Funds for corporate libraries, research, market intelligence and admins have been slashed–all the departments that have historically pulled together the type of information we provide. This means that salespeople and executives have to spend their nights and weekends doing their own research to prepare for key meetings–or worse, the research doesn’t get done at all and opportunities are missed.
6. Tell me about your editorial staff. What types of backgrounds do they have?
Our writers and editors have stellar credentials. We have recruited former corporate librarians and business journalists, some of whom hold advanced degrees. We have strict requirements–you have to be an efficient and thorough researcher, a good analyst and of course you have to write well. Plus you have to do it all very quickly and accurately. Freelance business reporters are used to the demands and the pace, so we use a lot of people who fit this profile. Some have deep expertise in specific verticals such as retail, technology and health care. We have a pilot program that we require all of our writers complete before coming on board to ensure that they have what it takes–and that they understand the editorial depth and quality we expect.
7..What sorts of interesting or unexpected uses of your content have you seen?
One of the the biggest surprises has been how often companies request profiles of their own executives and board members. Because of the level of detail our profiles contain, our customers have found that we often have more information on their own executives and board members than they do.
To see recent research from Boardroom Insiders, visit the Boardroom Insiders Page on AlacraStore.com.