Marketing's Symbiotic Relationships

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Ginger Conlon, Editor-in-Chief, Direct Marketing News
Ginger Conlon, Editor-in-Chief, Direct Marketing News

Back in the day marketing and sales was the hot couple. Although it was often a rocky relationship, it was a perfect match. The two functions share a common goal: sell more stuff to more customers. Volumes are written on why marketing and sales should collaborate, perhaps even become one. In partnership, the goals of each are more likely to be met; each team strengthening the work of the other. Consequently, it's common to meet executives with titles like VP of sales and marketing, and to come across companies (especially in B2B) that have marketing and sales operate within one department.

Similarly, in some organizations where the contact center is as much about sales as it is about service—or more so about sales—the head of marketing also “owns” the contact center. The linkage is imperative: Marketing constantly runs promotions or adjusts pricing or adds product; customer service agents need to be informed of these actions or changes on an ongoing basis, so they're ready to respond to any customer inquiries or concerns. In this situation marketing and customer service have the heady relationship. They're the couple that gets noticed because they get results.

Marketing's relationships with sales and customer service are still essential. They still need to pursue common goals like increasing revenue and enhancing the customer experience—which means they also have to maintain the relationship basics like communication, collaboration, mutual respect, and shared or aligned goals.

The debutantes

But there's a new power couple getting everyone's attention: marketing and IT. Epitomized by the CMO and CIO, they're fast becoming the darlings of corporate America. As marketers become increasingly more reliant on technology to learn about and communicate with customers, they need their colleagues in IT to think and act like strategic partners. As Elyse Dupré writes in “The New Power Couple,” “it's critical for today's CMO and the CIO to maintain a healthy relationship by understanding each other's priorities, defining common objectives, and being open to role changes.”

As with marketing's relationships with sales and customer service, in most businesses marketing and IT will remain as two separate organizations over the long term; in some companies it's possible that over time the linkage will become so close that one executive with skills in the two areas will oversee both teams, perhaps collapsing them into one unit.

There may be a marketing technology team. In any case, the number of people with skills in both disciplines will likely increase.

There are already companies that are shifting some of their technologists' roles and making them part of their marketing team. And some executives' roles are blending, as well. SiteSpect CMO Kim Ann King told Elyse that she refers to herself as the chief marketing and technology officer, or CMTO, due to her marketing-technology infused skill set.

This is no time to be a marketing wallflower. It's time to ask IT to the dance. Seize the opportunity to be part of today's power couple.


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