The Marketing Organization: the Next IT-buying Powerhouse

In years past, sales representatives of IT solution providers had a clear strategy for cultivating new business: get an appointment with the CIO.

It was a sales strategy that made sense. But as businesses have shifted to a more matrixed, interconnected approach and silos have started to come down, a new breed of IT customer has emerged: the company’s Marketing Department.

There are two reasons why I believe marketing organizations will increasingly become buyers of technology, with or without the involvement of their internal IT organizations:

First, in many organizations Marketing is taking on an expanded role in the planning and execution of growth strategies in their companies. They are serving as the architect and custodian of the customer relationship and increasingly as the driver of new product development.

To perform this enhanced scope of responsibilities, Marketing increasingly requires help from technology solutions and/or service providers that use the technology to deliver results as an outsourced service. Growing market share requires sophisticated IT tools, such as data analytics, insights, or business recommendations based on research.

Secondly, the “Business of Marketing” is becoming more and more the “Science of Marketing,” which is based on data, facts, insights, marketing automation and digitization. As Marketing expands its scope of business responsibilities, it will require a greater need for marketing technology solutions.

While there will always be a strong creative component, today’s marketing departments are not just a business unit within an organization, they operate as a business and use the same disciplines and processes as any other function.

  • Marketing organizations are accountable
  • They are analytical
  • They run profit and loss (P+Ls) reports

They fit the classic definition of a business.

A Growing Market…a Growing IT Appetite

Another consideration is the growing budget clout of Marketing departments. Marketing budgets are generally higher than IT budgets, 5.8% versus 3.5% of revenue (source: Gartner, October 2011) and Marketing already controls over a third of marketing technology spending directly.

In addition, sourcing of externally-performed marketing activities is increasing (again, based on the use of marketing technology by the vendors) and the use of the technology is secondary to the buyer and often invisible to the IT department. Marketing buyers pay for results, not technology. Either way, directly and indirectly, Marketing is becoming fast an important buyer of technology.

What does this mean if you’re a marketer?

  • Make sure you know a lot about marketing technology because it will quickly become the “bread and butter” of your business
  • Build a deeper collaboration with your IT department because adoption of new marketing technologies will require focused alignment, planning and integration
  • You may even want to consider hiring a “marketing technologist” to help you navigate the complex world of technology

If you are a technology vendor:

  • Get the marketing organizations of your customers and your prospects on your business development radar as a new technology buying center
  • Marketing is centered on building awareness, preference and demand; the value proposition of your solutions have to make a clear and compelling connection to the goals of your marketing customers
  • Consider hiring a marketer to help you selling to the complex world of marketing

And for me, personally? As a marketer in the technology industry, I think I am in the best of all places. There is nothing more powerful than bringing marketing and technology together. And that is exactly what I am doing.

Are you seeing an expansion of marketing technology in your organization? I would welcome your thoughts and insights.

2 Comments

  • Marcus,

    Very interesting post. As a marketing professional in healthcare IT, this is definitely a different approach from targeting the C-Suite. Great insights and will be sure to share them with my sales and marketing team as we engage different buyer personas.

  • Marcus says:

    Thanks for the kind words. I truly believe Marketing organizations are key stewards of the customer relationship. And that is what every department in every company should be focused on- finding ways to better serve customers, provide them with greater value and give them the best customer experience. Marketing organizations expanding beyond “creative” are becoming more strategic and business-focused. They represent a new IT buyers market, but as you said, it requires business development teams to engage them differently than they would a CIO.

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