Does your company have a chief technology marketing officer (CTMO)? If not, then maybe it’s time to find one. If you’re a small company, then maybe a CTC (a chief technology champion) will do, but if you’re a large company — or (especially) a large public company — then you need to think about who creates, distributes and maintains the technology “message.”
What are the pieces of a good technology marketing strategy?
First, consider what you’re “selling.” You’re selling hardware, software, services, image and perception. When everything goes well everyone thinks that the technology people are really pretty good, that things work reasonably well — and for a fair price. If the hardware and software works well, but the image is poor, technology is perceived to be a failure, just as bad hardware and software — but good perceptions — will buy you some time. Like everything else, you’re selling hard and soft stuff, tangible and intangible assets and processes.
Next consider who you’re selling to — noting from the outset that you’re selling different things to very different people. Yes, you’re selling hardware, software and services (along with image and perception) to everyone, but the relative importance of the pieces of your repertoire shifts as you move from office to office. Senior management really doesn’t care about how cool the network is or how you’ve finally achieved the nirvana five-9s for the reliability of your infrastructure. They care about the 20% you lopped off the acquisition project you just launched, or how company data is finally talking to each other and that you’re now able to cross-sell your products. Yes, the content and form of the message is important.
Public companies have a unique challenge. Increasingly, technology is included as a variable in company valuation models. This means the analysts who cover public company stocks look at technology infrastructures, applications and best practices in order to determine how mature a company’s technology acquisition, deployment and support strategies are. CIOs, CTOs — and CTMOs — talk to these analysts, fielding their questions and otherwise molding their understanding of the role technology plays in the current and anticipated business.
What’s the brand of your technology organization? If you were a professional sports team, what would be a good name for your organization? Would you be the Innovators? The Terminators?Put another way, if you asked the analysts who cover your stock to word-associate technology and your company, what would they say? Disciplined? Strategic? Weak?
What about collateral materials? Does the technology organization have its own Web site? Its own brochures? Case studies? White papers? Referenceable “accounts” (internal customers who are happy with technology’s services)? Are there newsletters and technology primers? Is there information about the competition?
Is there a scorecard (accessible from a dashboard) that keeps track of how well — or poorly — the major projects are doing?
Is there a technology “road show”? A consistent message about the role that technology plays in the company, how technology is organized, what matters most, the major projects, and technology’s contribution to profitable growth — among other key messages — is essential to running technology like a business.
Most importantly, are their dedicated resources for technology marketing? I cannot emphasize enough the value of internal and external technology marketing. The technology story at your company — assuming that it’s mostly good — needs to be packaged and sold on a continuous basis. Invest a little here and the payback will be substantial.
Do you have a CTMO?