At the helm of martech companies are CMOs who are engaging fellow CMOs (or trying to).
“How simple it must be to talk to someone just like you,” we hear you cry. If only it were that easy. Martech CMOs are in a uniquely tough position when it comes to communicating with their target audience. This is because:
1. It’s hard to take them by surprise. If you’re aware of a problem or opportunity, your audience most likely will be too. This makes it that little bit harder to grab their attention and reel them in with your message.
2. CMOs want to hear their customers’ voices. CMOs know how other CMOs behave. They know their tactics and understand the rules, so are naturally cynical when listening to others like them. Journalists who focus on the marketing space have picked up on this too, mainly seeking editorial contributions and comment from brand-side marketers – rather than those from martech companies.
3. Martech CMOs speak to CMOs across multiple sectors, from healthcare to FMCG, telecoms to manufacturing. Connecting with this diverse audience is challenging. So is customizing your message according to each vertical and making sure these messaging variations are consistent with your overall brand narrative.
These challenges create several tricky roadblocks for martech CMOs. While they certainly present some PR and communications challenges, they also offer opportunities for martech companies to engage with CMOs and build relationships in new ways. Here’s how…
1. Unravel data
The complexities facing martech CMOs today aren’t going unnoticed. Their existence has spurred bodies like the CMO Council to explore how martech CMOs operate today. The Council’s latest report in collaboration with KPMG LLP, Making MarTech Pay Off, concluded that martech CMOs need to have an effective working relationship with IT that spans strategy, selection, and management. This is unsurprising, given that technology and data enable deeper personalization when engaging with target buyers across digital channels – a trend that gained ground during the pandemic, as the buyer journey migrated online. Optimizing their tech stack in a way that unifies data and enables easy reporting, accurate targeting and campaign planning is something all CMOs have either thought about or actioned in the last year.
Martech CMOs can capitalize on the growing importance of data by creating content and campaigns that speak to CMOs’ biggest data-related concerns. Many senior CMOs will not be as data literate as their younger employees. So, instead of just talking about product features, martech brands should show that they understand the challenges CMOs are facing and can supply solutions.
By engaging CMOs in original ways on the issues that keep them up at night, martech brands can cut through the noise and differentiate themselves from their competition. For example, data compliance is a hot, yet complicated topic. From Google’s movements in retiring the third-party cookie to the EU’s Digital Services Act, laws and regulations are shifting at a rapid rate, making it tougher for marketers to keep up. If martech companies can supply clarity around these changes, they’ll get CMOs’ attention – and their respect.
2. Tap into the wider ecosystem
To illustrate how their tech works in action, it’s important for martech CMOs to uncover customer insights and turn them into digestible stories. The conversation around marketing increasing its collaboration with other functions like sales and customer success – and how martech enables this – is particularly relevant here.
Identifying ‘hero’ customers – friendlies who are open to joint marketing initiatives – is a good starting point. A top tip is to lay out the ‘terms and conditions’ for any joint activity at the beginning of the relationship. The aim of establishing this brand-customer relationship is not only to generate leads and brand awareness opportunities for both parties, but also to engage marketing trade media who look for insights from brand-side marketers and customer stories.
Collaborating with partners can also help to explain martech benefits in a way that isn’t perceived as ‘salesy’. Forrester call this PX (partner experience) and predicts that in 2022, half of b2b marketers will start looking at partner ecosystems as creators of value – not just channels-to-market – and will set up a PX function.
In the martech landscape, interoperability is huge, and many martech brands work with big-name partners like Hubspot, Microsoft, Salesforce, Google, and Slack. But there are smaller players too, who are creating a vast array of new capabilities powered by AI or automation. These partners can open new avenues for thought leadership, data-driven stories, and case studies that are worth amplifying in the media and on owned channels.
3. Build a vertical content framework
For any PR or marketing campaign to be successful, martech brands must understand their target CMOs’ top business priorities. Keeping up to date with the latest industry developments is one matter but turning this knowledge into a convincing story is tricky. This is where a robust content strategy comes into play.
At the lorries, we’ve had success in building vertical content frameworks for our clients. Sounds fancy, but it’s relatively simple.
First, brands must lock down an overarching theme. This should deliver a narrative that embodies the brand’s priority messaging as it currently stands. It should be broad enough to act as a platform to develop more detailed and specific ideas as offshoots. And it should be written in simple terms, so it’s easy for everyone in the business to understand. When selecting a theme, it’s important to keep these questions top of mind:
- Is this message important to our target audience?
- Does it easily connect to our offering and unique value proposition?
- Does it link to the broader business landscape?
Underneath this overarching theme, brands can develop specific story threads or ‘pillars’. This is why going broad at the start is key, as it enables more custom story threads to unravel. Think of it like a family tree with different branches appearing as your vertical content framework grows. These branches can extend into different verticals and sectors to speak to CMOs in various industries, all while giving your marketing team structure, focus, and ensuring all content links back to your overall brand narrative.
It’s not easy for martech CMOs to engage their target audience. It takes the right mixture of in-depth operational knowledge, awareness of developments the b2b marketing landscape and a healthy dose of campaign creativity.
Keen to learn more about how we help martech brands tell compelling stories? Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.