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.

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
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
User Ranking: Blogger
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!
User Ranking: Blogger
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!
User Ranking: Blogger
Gigi   CIOs: Speak Like a Marketing Executive   12/4/2012 2:32:51 AM
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
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.
Page 1 / 2   >   >>

The blogs and comments posted on do not reflect the views of TechWeb,, or its sponsors., TechWeb, and its sponsors do not assume responsibility for any comments, claims, or opinions made by authors and bloggers. They are no substitute for your own research and should not be relied upon for trading or any other purpose.

More Blogs from Larry Bonfante
Larry Bonfante   5/7/2014   58 comments
Most leaders feel a sense of responsibility for creating a professional work environment where their people can succeed, but I feel this is nowhere near enough.
Larry Bonfante   4/28/2014   24 comments
Of all the competencies required to be an effective CIO, perhaps none is more important than being able to build positive relationships with your key stakeholders. I've never seen a CIO ...
Larry Bonfante   4/9/2014   10 comments
When every capital expenditure is put under a microscope, it's harder than ever to continue to make the necessary investments in refreshing the technology our companies need to compete in ...
Larry Bonfante   3/25/2014   20 comments
Today we are flooded with an almost infinite number of data streams. From traditional sources such as registration and consumer purchasing platforms to social media feeds, tweets, and ...
Larry Bonfante   2/25/2014   19 comments
CIOs don't work alone. Effective CIOs develop effective partnerships with the other executives in the "C-Suite" -- partnerships that take time, effort, and understanding to build.
Latest Archived Broadcast
We talk with Bernard Golden about accelerating application delivery in the cloud.
On-demand Video with Chat
Register for this video discussion to learn how tablets can provide true business usability and productivity.
E2 IT Migration Zones
IT Migration Zone - UK
Why PowerShell Is Important
Reduce the Windows 8 Footprint for VDI
Rethinking Storage Management
IT Migration Zone - FR
SQL Server : 240 To de mémoire flash pour votre data warehouse
Quand Office vient booster les revenus Cloud et Android de Microsoft
Windows Phone : Nokia veut davantage d'applications (et les utilisateurs aussi)
IT Migration Zone - DE
Cloud Computing: Warum Unternehmen trotz NSA auf die „private“ Wolke setzen sollten
Cloud Computing bleibt Wachstumsmarkt – Windows Azure ist Vorreiter
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Enterprise Efficiency Twitter Feed
Site Moderators Wanted
Enterprise Efficiency is looking for engaged readers to moderate the message boards on this site. Engage in high-IQ conversations with IT industry leaders; earn kudos and perks. Interested? E-mail:
[email protected]
Dell's Efficiency Modeling Tool
The major problem facing the CIO is how to measure the effectiveness of the IT department. Learn how Dell’s Efficiency Modeling Tool gives the CIO two clear, powerful numbers: Efficiency Quotient and Impact Quotient. These numbers can be transforma¬tive not only to the department, but to the entire enterprise.

Read the full report
The State of Enterprise Efficiency in the Virtual Era: Virtualization – Smart Approaches to Maximize Gains
Virtualization is a presence in nearly all enterprise data centers. But not all companies are using it to its best effect. Learn the common characteristics of success, what barriers companies face, and how to get the most from your efforts.

Read the full report
Informed CIO: Dollars & Sense: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
Cut through the VDI hype and get the full picture -- including ROI and the impact on your Data Center -- to make an informed decision about your virtual desktop infrastructure deployments.

Read the full report
A Video Case Study – Translational Genomics Research Institute
e2 Video

On the Case
TGen IT: Where We're Going Next

7|11|12   |   08:12   |   10 comments

Now that TGen has broken new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions, the company discusses what will come next for it and for personalized medicine.
On the Case
Better Care Through Better Communications

6|6|12   |   02:24   |   11 comments

The achievements of the TGen/Dell project could improve how all people receive healthcare, because they are creating ways to improve end-to-end communication of medical data.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Are Now

5|15|12   |   06:58   |   6 comments

TGen is breaking new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Were

4|27|12   |   06:45   |   10 comments

The Translational Genomics Research Institute wanted to save lives, but its efforts were hobbled by immense computing challenges related to collecting, processing, sharing, and storing enormous amounts of data.
On the Case
1,200% Faster

4|18|12   |   02:27   |   12 comments

Through their partnership, Dell and TGen have increased the speed of TGen’s medical research by 1,200 percent.
On the Case
IT May Improve Children's Chances of Survival

4|17|12   |   02:12   |   8 comments

IT is helping medical researchers reach breakthroughs in a way and pace never seen before.
On the Case
Medical Advances in the Cloud

4|10|12   |   1:25   |   5 comments

TGen and Dell are pushing the boundaries of computing, and harnessing the power of the cloud to improve healthcare.
On the Case
TGen: Living the Mission

4|9|12   |   2:25   |   3 comments

TGen's CIO puts the organizational mission at the heart of everything the IT staff does.
On the Case
TGen Speeding Up Biomedical Research to Save More Lives

4|5|12   |   1:59   |   6 comments

The Translational Genomics Research Institute is revamping its computing to improve speed, storage, and collaboration – and, most importantly, to save lives.
On the Case
Computing Power Helping to Save Children's Lives

3|28|12   |   2:13   |   3 comments

The Translational Genomics Institute’s partnership with Dell is enabling them to treat kids with neuroblastoma more quickly and save more lives.
Tom Nolle
The Big Reason to Use Office

3|18|14   |   02:24   |   46 comments

Office and personal productivity tools come in a first-class and coach flavor set, but what makes the difference is primarily little things that most users won't encounter. What's the big issue in using something other than Office, and can you get around it?
E2 Editors
SPONSORED: Mobile Security — A Use Case

3|4|14   |   04:27   |   16 comments

New mobile security solutions can accommodate a wide array of needs, including those of a complex university environment.
Tom Nolle
Killing Net Neutrality Might Save You Money

1|16|14   |   2:13   |   16 comments

The DC Court of Appeals voided most of the Neutrality Order, and whatever it might mean for the Internet overall, it might mean better and cheaper Internet VPNs for businesses.
Tom Nolle
The Internet of Everythinguseful

1|10|14   |   2:18   |   19 comments

We really don't want an "Internet of Everything" but even building an Internet of Everythinguseful means setting some ground rules to insure there's value in the process and that costs and risks are minimized.
Tom Nolle
Maturing Google Chrome

12|30|13   |   2.18   |   25 comments

Google's Chrome OS has a lot of potential value and a lot of recent press, but it still needs something to make it more than a thin client. It needs cloud integration, it needs extended APIs via web services, and it needs to suck it up and support a hard drive.
Sara Peters
No More Cookie-Cutter IT

12|23|13   |   03.58   |   21 comments

Creating the right combination of technology, people, and processes for your IT organization is a lot like baking Christmas cookies.
Sara Peters
Smart Wigs Not a Smart Idea

12|5|13   |   3:01   |   46 comments

Sony is seeking a patent for wigs that contain computing devices.
Tom Nolle
Cloud in the Wild

12|4|13   |   02:23   |   15 comments

On a recent African trip I saw examples of the value of the cloud in developing nations, for educational and community development programs. We could build on this, but not only in developing economies, because these same programs are often under-supported even in first-world countries.
E2 Editors
SPONSORED: Is Malware Evading Your IPS?

11|18|13   |   03:16   |   4 comments

Intrusion prevention software is supposed to detect and block malware intrusions, but clever malware authors can evade your IPS in these five main ways.
Sara Peters
Where Have All the Mentors Gone?

9|27|13   |   3:15   |   38 comments

A good professional mentor can change your life for the better... but where do you find one?
Tom Nolle
SDN Wars & You Could Win

9|17|13   |   2:10   |   5 comments

VMware's debate with Cisco on SDN might finally create a fusion between an SDN view that's all about software and another that's all about network equipment. That would be good for every enterprise considering the cloud and SDN.
Ivan Schneider
The Future of the Smart Watch

9|12|13   |   3:19   |   39 comments

Wearing a bulky, oversized watch is good training for the next phase in wristwatches: the Internet-enabled, connected watch. Why the smartphone-tethered connected watch makes sense, plus Ivan demos an entirely new concept for the "smart watch."
Tom Nolle
Cutting Your Cloud Storage Costs

9|4|13   |   2:06   |   3 comments

Cloud storage costs are determined primarily by the rate at which files are changed and the possibility of concurrent access/update. If you can structure your storage use to optimize these factors you can cut costs, perhaps to zero.
Sara Peters
Do CIOs Need an IT Background?

8|29|13   |   2:11   |   23 comments

Most of the CIOs interviewed in the How to Become a CIO series did not start their careers as IT professionals. So is an IT background essential?
Ivan Schneider
The Internet Loves Birthdays

8|27|13   |   3:25   |   69 comments

The Internet has evolved into a machine for drumming up a chorus of "Happy Birthday" messages, from family, friends, friends of friends who you added on Facebook, random people that you circled on G+, and increasingly, automated bots. Enough already.