CIOs: Speak Like a Marketing Executive

Larry Bonfante, Founder, CIO Bench Coach | 12/3/2012 | 14 comments

Larry Bonfante
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.

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tjgkg   CIOs: Speak Like a Marketing Executive   1/7/2013 8:18:30 AM
Re: it all in the point of view...
I recently was watching The Tudors on BBC America. Henry VIII was certainly a "CEO" who ran his country on emotions rather than analysis!
Larry Bonfante   CIOs: Speak Like a Marketing Executive   12/7/2012 2:16:06 PM
Re: it all in the point of view...
It absolutley has to be a partnership with both parties adapting to accommmodate each others' style
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Larry Bonfante   CIOs: Speak Like a Marketing Executive   12/7/2012 2:15:27 PM
Re: it all in the point of view...
I am not suggesting that the decision is baing made on emtion alone. However it is important to realize that emoptions are factored intl all decisoins regardless of how analytical they may seem!
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MDMConsult   CIOs: Speak Like a Marketing Executive   12/7/2012 2:05:11 PM
Re: it all in the point of view...
Its important to be decisive but with the support of both CIO and CMO together as well other business executives. In these cases, having good patience in making such decisions and to adopting to both types of leadership and communications.
tjgkg   CIOs: Speak Like a Marketing Executive   12/5/2012 9:50:17 AM
Re: it all in the point of view...
If Chief is making decisions based on emotions as opposed to analytics, I am not sure that person is qualified to be in their position.
tjgkg   CIOs: Speak Like a Marketing Executive   12/5/2012 9:48:42 AM
Rosetta Stone
CMO's should understand the technology they sell. OK I said it. While I think that all the chiefs should endeavour to communicate effectively with each other, I think it is important that ALL of them understand what goes on down the hall. The CMO is setting the strategy for marketing the company's products. He should know what it is he is selling. Not down to the atomic level, but to a features level. Too often, in too many companies, there is a tension between the IT and Marketing departments because IT feels Marketing over promises features because it does not understand the product line and Marketing is frustrated with IT's social skills. There has to be a Rosetta Stone that these disparate areas can consult so that both are conversant with each other.
Broadway   CIOs: Speak Like a Marketing Executive   12/4/2012 8:37:08 PM
Re: it all in the point of view...
I think speaking like a marketing executive is right and good as long as, unlike some marketing executives and products, there is substance behind all that emotive talk.
Larry Bonfante   CIOs: Speak Like a Marketing Executive   12/4/2012 11:07:43 AM
Re: it all in the point of view...
While I agree that the bottom line is critical, never underestimate the importanve of emotions. Most popel don't make decisions for analytical reasons, they make decisions for emotional reasons!
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Gigi   CIOs: Speak Like a Marketing Executive   12/4/2012 2:32:51 AM
Gigi
Re: it all in the point of view...
Hammad, CMOs are more bothered about the products/services, which are readily available in front of them. Their intention is to market such products and in most of the cases they may not be aware about the upcoming products also, at the same time CIOs always have a road maps about the future plans
Gigi   CIOs: Speak Like a Marketing Executive   12/4/2012 2:29:19 AM
Gigi
Business talk from CIO/PM/PL/TL...
Larry, you are right. In many occasions I had seen that CIOs, PL, PM and even developers are talking like a Marketing officer, even me too. While interacting with public, I used to discuss about the latest addition of products or service offerings from my company. Business is the backbone of any company, without business, no company can sustain.
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