CMOs Need to Take a Stronger Hand in Changing IT Vendors' Sales Pitches

By Eric Lundquist  |  Posted 2013-08-24 Print this article Print

Instead of the technology bits and bytes, this group of executives—which ranged across the government, education and business sectors—were concerned about application integration, legal contracts and business capabilities.

If there was any one underlying lesson for tech marketers from these conversations, it is that these managers are people, not leads. Leads are soulless chunks of information. Tech managers are people with lives, a desire to be successful in their personal and business lives, and the last thing they want is to hear a salesman or saleswoman calling and reciting a script noting their status as a lead.

That model might have worked once; it doesn't anymore. While much was made about the CIO and CMO split in the past, that rift is healing. CIOs want their organizations to be successful and have solid contracts and security. They are less and less interested in trying to be the oracles of all things technology these days.

In the content and context model, you need two foundations. Foundation one: in the era of social media including Twitter, Facebook and blog content delivered on smartphones, you need a media platform that can accommodate all media types and devices and deliver content to those devices while reporting back user interaction.

This is easier said than done for all of us that have juggled multiple content management system and reporting tools while trying to keep up with the new smartphones and tablets introduced daily. Hubspot introduced their COS (content optimization system). I haven't tried it out yet, but the concept is commendable.

Foundation two is content. As a writer I'm happy to hear executives champion the content is king message. But I also know that just as the technology purchasing cycle has changed, the type of content required is changing. Hubspot encourages content conversations where information is exchanged rather than pushed at potential customers.

That is a good idea, but when I listen to what technology customers are asking for, it is not what the content vendors are supplying. Spec sheets masquerading as articles, blogs that are based on blatant product promotion and executive videos that look like something out of a Sacha Baron Cohen film lose more customers than they acquire.

Vendors want to talk about their products, but not the legal contracts which underpin their services. Pricing and application integration with other vendors is high on the customer list but low on the vendor content menu. Investing in great media platforms to deliver, at best, mediocre content is a waste of time and money.

The role of the CMO in all this is to change from being a marketing arm for products and services already developed, priced and deployed. CMO must become a knowledgeable source for what customers want, the services and support required to wrap around those products and having the voice and authority to stop errant corporate strategies in their tracks. And that will take a very big change indeed.

Eric Lundquist is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. Lundquist, who was editor-in-chief at eWEEK (previously PC WEEK) from 1996-2008 authored this article for eWEEK to share his thoughts on technology, products and services. No investment advice is offered in this article. All duties are disclaimed. Lundquist works separately for a private investment firm which may at any time invest in companies whose products are discussed in this article and no disclosure of securities transactions will be made.


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel