5 conversations every CMO & CTO should have
Technology and marketing functions have never been more intertwined. Digital innovation and marketing data have empowered both areas to produce better products and campaigns at scale.
However, it’s a very different story when it comes to the teams that make up marketing and engineering.
With headlines like Marketers and Engineers: Why Can’t We Just Get Along?, it’s no surprise that these two teams don’t always hold hands and sing Kumbaya.
This tension is due to a few things, including inter-department culture, risk aversion, duties, and conflicting personalities.
The relationship and silo between marketing and engineering are exactly why leadership, namely CMOs and CTOs, should create a working relationship.
The best place to start?
Conversations around teamwork, resourcing, and priorities.
Here are a few crucial conversations that marketing and engineering leaders should have to unify their teams and create a culture of collaboration.
How do we balance our teams’ priorities?
Marketing and engineering teams move at vastly different speeds, which can cause friction.
Marketing and creative teams move quickly because they’re working inside established systems. And engineering teams tend to work slower because they must consider the backend plus things like security.
It isn’t rare for a marketing team to say, “we need a landing page tomorrow.” For engineers, this way of working can be hard, or even impossible when there are valid technical concerns that marketing is unaware of.
Therefore, CMOs and CTOs should discuss their teams’ priorities, and how they can balance both.
Both leaders should understand what kind of tasks require more engineering work than meets the eye e.g., integrating data from third parties, processing credit cards, and processing personal data.
How often will our teams roadmap together?
A product team will have a different roadmap from marketing, and that’s okay. Not all new features are ideal for a marketing campaign (users don’t download an app because of its SSO capabilities).
Also, product and engineering teams are more focused on continuous discovery/delivery while a marketing team might be optimized via quarterly campaigns.
However, don’t let these differences in approach discourage frequent roadmap collaboration.
Marketing teams should join roadmap meetings several times per year. Without that perspective, your marketing strategy won’t be as effective.
How often is ultimately up to you, but it’s worth having a conversation to hash out the details.
What kind of internal resources can marketing use?
Without a real policy in place, marketing teams are constantly asking engineers for favours. This can create hostility between teams, de-prioritisation, and even missed deadlines.
If using an internal team, marketing leaders need to work with technology to budget for internal resources. This probably looks like a monthly allotment of hours, with the engineering team “billing” the marketing department. It could be one dedicated engineer, or more flexible.
There are many ways to make this work, but it’s a good idea to create a clear plan.
If using external resources, there are likely additional conversations to have around security and team integration.
How can we get our teams to work together?
Besides the obvious, “tell your team to be nice,” this is an ongoing initiative that hopefully goes through iterations over time.
The focus here is to build a culture of empathy within your teams. But the specifics of how you’re going to do it need to be discussed.
Each leader needs to understand the pressure of the other team, so you can reframe the challenges and work together.
Engineering teams are often overburdened, and marketing needs to empathise with this.
Marketing teams are comfortable with trial and error–not every task will launch perfectly, and engineering should recognize that’s okay.
It’s your duty to implement programs that force collaboration.
Where does the technical risk lie in marketing?
Hopping on the latest marketing trend the day after a cultural phenomenon might be part of your team’s marketing strategy.
However, fast and furious marketing campaigns do have technical risks. The engineering team needs to be aware of these risks, and marketing understands the implications.
Without this, you end up with bugs and broken websites during peak traffic.
Marketing and tech leaders should discuss philosophy, marketing strategy, and technology requirements on an ongoing basis. Ask things like, Where is the risk for our business? and What initiatives impose that risk?
Just like teams shouldn’t be siloed in an organisation, CMOs and CTOs need to communicate frequently to ensure marketing and technology are aligned.
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