Connected Leadership: Why Great CMOs Must Also Be Top CTOs

Business.com / Marketing Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Why CMOs and CTOs have to work together and learn more about each other's positions.

At first glance, the roles of CMO – Chief Marketing Officer – and CTO – Chief Technical Officer – are completely different positions that serve completely different segments of a company. 

As Natasha Madov of AdAge put it in a recent article, "CMOs are from Mars and CTOs are from Venus."

They speak different languages, have different needs, and work with different portions of the customer experience.

But as the customer's online experience becomes more and more crucial, that segregation of responsibilities is going to rapidly become impossible. 

Related Article: Online Marketing Basics for Start-Ups

CMOs and CTOs are going to have to learn more about each other's positions – and how to respect what each of them does for the company and the customer.

Importance of Online Experience

While traditional marketing venues of print, radio, and TV remain importance, no one questions that digital channels have completely changed what is possible, especially for big companies. The way the Internet collects information about anonymous browsers and shares it with websites allows customers to feel like their big-box retailer is, in fact, their corner shopkeeper, devoted to their personal shopping experience. But this only happens when the CTO and CMO have a unified purpose.

It has been said that tech sells customers a solution while marketing sells customers an experience. For many CTOs, it's enough that the tool works. For CMOs, it's crucial that the tool works in a way that the benefits the customer's experience.

For CMOs and CTOs to work well together, they must recognize:

  • They're both right; both tool functionality and overall tool integration are necessary to creating a satisfied customer.
  • The earlier they come together to share perspectives and work together, the more unified and efficient their process will be.

Benefit the Bottom Line

Both the marketing team and the tech team are well aware of the pressure of the bottom line. There's nothing more frustrating than realizing that one team or the other consistently has precedence when it comes to organization funding and capital investment.

"By working together to execute the strategic vision" says Bogdan Constantin, the former CTO and now CMO of Menguin, "CMOs and CTOs can make sure they're on the same page about what's needed, and can make sure that their job-specific goals are in unison towards the company's overarching revenue goals."

Meeting early in the creation process helps CMOs and CTOs identify:

  • Places where solutions aren't going to function, and work would later need to be redone; if, for example, a proposed interface won't work with an upcoming website redesign.
  • Common solutions by reducing tunnel vision. When you need to consider another department's perspective on your project, you necessarily think about it through a broader lens.
  • Opportunities for department collaboration. When the marketing team and tech team cross train to one degree or another, greater understanding is forged, and both teams can do their work with a better comprehension of what the other team needs. “

Unified Customer Goals

The goal of every single department in a company should be to make sure that the customer is happy, satisfied, and ready to come back for another shopping experience. Unfortunately, as companies get bigger and bigger, they may forget that other teams are working towards the same goal they are. By working together, it becomes easier for teams to see other departments as pieces of the puzzle instead of budget competition.

Related Article: The Influence of Leadership Styles: How Givers and Takers Match-Up

To help remind CMOs and CTOs to work together with unified goals:

  • Approach all projects with the expectation of cross-pollination of ideas. No project should get past the idea phase without input from other departments on how the implementation of the project will affect their functioning.
  • Validate and consider feedback from all departments. If customer service states that something marketing is planning will be a nightmare, the company as a whole needs to hear that, and either provides evidence that customer service is incorrect or adjust appropriately. Similarly, if tech says that it will be completely unable to fulfill a marketing promise, the promise must be adjusted to maintain customer experiences. This is best done with the engaging marketing plan is still a plan, not two days from implementation.

The company of the future is happening faster than CEOs, and business owners can anticipate it. When you are looking for your next CMO or CTO, make sure that you're looking for someone who can work from a cross-disciplinary perspective, and who views their department as a piece of the whole, and not a universe unto itself.

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