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Enterprise Tech Marketing Failure and the Marketing Center of Excellence

Part 1 of 3

Being a revenue-focused, data-driven tech marketer is no longer a best practice—it is, to use Hollis Tibbetts' pithy wording, "table stakes." But even if a marketing organization can't quite raise the stakes to get a seat among their best-performing peers (many marketers lag behind according to Hypatia Research Group) all still must improve outcomes.

Despite an intense focus on improving outcomes, enterprise technology marketers’ best efforts at consistently increasing their return on marketing investment (ROMI) too often fail. (One of the most notable recently? HP's tablet launch fail, which we will discuss in the last of these three posts.)

Even after we implement platforms for marketing automation and models like SiriusDecision’s new Demand Waterfall, even after we tune our SEO and campaigns, our employers/clients still don’t get consistent value from their investment in marketing.

While the average tenure for the head of marketing (CMO, VP Marketing) across major brands has increased since 2005—from 26.8 months to 42 months, according to Gallup—tenure for CMOs in the tech industry lags significantly. And churn at the CMO level cannot help increase consistency in anything but variability of ROMI.

In my opinion, it’s time to do something different, and to learn from others in tech who have struggled with these same challenges...

  • Investment (sometimes significant) yielding inconsistent outcomes, resulting in
  • A lack of confidence on the part of the executive team and board, leading to
  • Churn at the CXO level.

I propose looking at IT as a source for new approaches to solve the return-on-marketing-investment problem. IT is a resource not because they've mastered these challenges, but because IT as a discipline has developed measurable approaches to making outcomes more consistent despite enormous complexity.

Further, best-in-class IT measurably outperforms their peers in ways that matter to the business. For example, in key areas such as legacy modernization, according to Aberdeen Research best-in-class IT departments outperform their peers by roughly 20%.

Some hallmarks of best-in-class IT include:

  • Use IT operating models to enable the alignment of “IT priorities and spending with the overall business priorities and strategic imperatives."
  • Innovate to make that alignment and its operating model as agile as business strategy, enabling paradigm-shifting competitive advantage.
  • Use the Capability Maturity Model Integration (originally developed by Carnegie Mellon's Software Engineering Institute) to inform Communities of Practice/Centers of Excellence - a holistic approach to maturing the organization in support of both innovation and business strategy.

The last item is particularly useful for enterprise tech marketing. The CMMI Maturity Model can provide an operational framework by which marketing can improve ROMI across every discipline.

(To see the CMMI framework, go to Haunted by Marketing here.)


By initiating and evolving a Marketing Center of Excellence (MCOE), enterprise tech marketing can:

  • Decrease time-to-revenue by closing the gap between average and best performers in:
    • Conversion-to-win
    • Inquiry-to-win (5x to 7x improvement in yield, or inquiry-to-win ratio, per SiriusDecisions)
  • Increase profits faster by:
    • Improving customer satisfaction and retention/renewal (recently Pragmatic Marketing discussed profits increasing 25% by achieving a 5% reduction in customer defection rates).

Best of all, a MCOE can be resource-neutral, funded by cutting redundant systems, processes, and identifying/reducing other waste.

In the next article, I’ll discuss the evolutionary steps in developing a MCOE, and what a CMMI-informed MCOE might look like. In the last post of these three, I'll drill down into some of the factors involved in the HP tablet fail, and hypothesize as to whether a MCOE might have mitigated some of the fail.

More Stories By Lori Witzel

Lori Witzel has provided marketing leadership for software and technology services organizations. Her new approaches to strategy and execution, with a focus on demand generation and operational excellence across all marketing disciplines has created positive response, results and success.

By applying lessons learned from the business analysis and software engineering communities, marketing operational excellence can be transformed, yielding a faster Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI).

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