How can CIOs work more effectively with CMOs to help accomplish their company's objectives? Perhaps they can start with using a common vernacular.
The book Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus comes to mind whenever I think of CMO-CIO relationships. Most of the marketing executives I have worked with tend to be more right-brained thinkers. They are intuitive, creative, expressive, and can come up with a thousand new ideas a day. I am always amazed and inspired by their innovative thinking. CIOs by comparison, tend to be more left brained in their thinking. They are logical, analytical, and concrete in their approaches.
So what happens when you put two very different types of thinkers together in a room? There's potential for one of two things to happen -- amazing collaboration or downright Armageddon!
Nothing disrupts progress more than a lack of common understanding. Robert Plant and Jimmy Page referred to this as "Communication Breakdown." If we hope to influence our CMOs, we must start by using language they understand.
Here's a common problem: How many CIOs are frustrated that their CMOs don't understand the need to develop technical requirements for a project plan? CMOs see this as an exercise in stifling creativity. However, all marketing executives understand the need for a marketing brief. No CMO would start a campaign without a brief and CIOs can help a CMO understand that no CIO would start a technical brief either.
Translate your objectives into business outcomes that the CMO is comfortable with. For instance, perhaps you are working to improve the total customer value -- the amount of revenue you can possibly glean from a long-term relationship with a consumer. Work to map your plan of action to these types of outcomes that will resonate with a marketing executive.
And of course, no self-respecting executive should have any business conversation that doesn't include an ROI. Marketing executives and IT executives alike understand the value of investments vs. costs. Most executives view IT as a sunk cost. As CIOs, we need to articulate both the quantitative ROI of our investments (i.e., revenue generation and cost savings) as well as the qualitative value of the work we perform online, such as the number of customer impressions and the value of emotional branding. This is the language of marketing, and for the sake of our relationship with our CMO, the language of success.
For instance, we at the USTA have a website dedicated to helping facilities register their youth tennis programming. When motivating a facility to register their programs, we not only share with them the quantitative value of doing so (i.e., registered facilities are viewed by X percent more parents who are looking to schedule their kids for after-school sports), but also the qualitative value of registering their programs (creating an environment where both parents and kids can come together to have fun, spend time together, and share a positive recreational experience). We play to both the hard financial value of registering on our site as well as the emotional aspect of playing to parents' desire to have their kids involved in a healthy and safe activity that promotes good sportsmanship and the value of teamwork.
Always remember that people (including executives) make decisions based on emotions, not only the facts. Helping your CMO impact their consumers' decisions will make you a valued business partner.
What are your best-practices in enhancing the CMO/CIO partnership? What steps have you taken to deepen this relationship? I'd love to hear your ideas as well as your questions and feedback on this important topic.