Learning from the Chief Marketing Officers

In IT we often struggle with communication and engagement. At a CIO event recently, I decided for a change to see what I could learn from the experts and moved rooms to attend a number of presentations from a Chief Marketing officer (CMO) event running in parallel. Looking at the world from someone else’s perspective always generates new ideas for me, and this is some of what I picked up.

One of our challenges is to deliver successful projects and create the case for change. How would one of these CMO folks market a project. They don’t sell on features, they sell on value added. Take a drill. Do you sell on specs such as RPM,  torque and tungsten drill bits….; or do you show a new set of shelves in a tidy room with no more clutter and sell the result/value delivered. This is nothing new, BA many years ago moved their adverts from selling leg room and wide seats in business class to focusing on delivering the business traveller fresh and ready to do business. In IT, do we continue to focus on about features and specs and wonder why this does not work.

The thing that our colleagues want us to show is customer value. Not features. How much effort do we put into long lists of requirements and deliver those with no understanding of the value the project is meant to generate. If we can articulate value, we might get more investment and support. If we can create that environment of customer value focus in your teams and allow them to innovate how much better could our projects be? How many times have we met the requirements spec and still got business colleagues saying the system does not do what is needed?

One marketing pitch model was presented, and I used it the following week to structure my steering group presentation. Here it is. It is the 6S model as follows that can help create clear proposals and decisions.

  1. Synopsis – start with summary slide of what you want to achieve from Steering Group
  2. Scene set – give background information
  3. Story – this is the what part of the session, status updates, decisions etc
  4. Sums – financials, numbers and benefits tracking
  5. Steps – draw out actions, agreements, messages to be communicated by your stakeholders
  6. Surprise – well that’s up to you, but make your steering group interesting and something people want to attend. One surprise might be for you, difficult questions, so prepare well.

I also learned about how marketers are using the huge range of social media channels and the way technology is being used to improve customer experience. How many of us are still focused on content management of static websites – the world has moved on to managing interactions with current and potential customers across multiple channels. So much to learn here to improve the way we offer IT service, but that’s a topic for another blog.  And over dinner, I learnt more about using Twitter and in particular the importance of #hash-tags and lists.


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