How to make an ally of your CMO

High angle of businesspeople shaking handsThere’s an old saying in marketing: everyone knows they’re wasting half their investment – but no one knows which half. In a digital world, however, there is no getting away with that. Almost everything that marketing does is driven by data, and the impact of all its efforts is instantly measurable.

CIOs and CMOs have not always enjoyed the closest of relationships, as blogs in this series have highlighted. But if an organization is to deliver digital marketing to the best of its ability, closer links between IT and marketing will be increasingly crucial. And as the spending example above highlights, a better relationship can have clear benefits.

But getting this right requires a change of mindset for many CIOs, because they have not traditionally prioritized their links with marketing to the same degree as with other functions.

There are all sorts of ways in which CIOs can add value as organizations build their digital marketing strategies. With marketers now offered an increasingly diverse range of tools in every area in which they operate, one crucial role for IT will be to act as a guide to which technologies marketing should prioritize – and advise on how to build an integrated suite of these systems.

However, it is also important that CMOs do not see CIOs only as technologists. Those CIOs with a clear vision of the enterprise’s business model – and marketing’s role in delivering that model – will also be able to make a profound strategic contribution.

The key is better communication and collaboration, so that CIOs have a clear idea of where they can support the efforts of marketing, and CMOs have a better understanding of what IT can offer.

To get started, consider the following ideas:

  • Get to know marketing better
    Not enough CIOs invest the time required in building relationships with marketing. It is only by sitting down regularly with the CMO that CIOs can understand what the former is trying to achieve and how IT might be able to help. To learn more about CMOs, their challenges, expectations and aspirations read the recently launched EY report on The DNA of C-suite sales and marketing leaders.
  • Come bearing gifts
    Data and analytics offer huge potential for the CMO, but most enterprises are barely scratching the surface of what is possible. CIOs, with their understanding of what the technology can do, are ideally placed to help marketing capitalize in this area.
  • Be prepared to make your case
    If IT is simply seen as a service provider by the rest of the business, it will struggle to generate the value it is capable of adding. CIOs need to build relationships based on equality with CMOs. That means making proactive suggestions for areas of priority, rather than simply doing what marketing asks.
  • Formalize the working relationship
    IT should be able to facilitate and even lead initiatives that will drive competitive advantage. But too often, IT is seen as an obstacle by other business functions – when projects are delayed or they disappoint, it’s all too easy just to blame technology. CIOs can reduce the possibility of this happening by establishing agreed processes for working with marketing, so that both sides understand what is expected of them.
  • Distinguish between the message and the medium
    CMOs who feel their CIO colleagues want to do their job for them are likely to resist forging a closer relationship. CIOs need to make it clear that they’re not offering to provide marketing content, but more effective ways of message delivery, whether that’s in social media, mobile channels or analytics.

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