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How Your Content Strategy Thrives When Marketing and IT Work Together

content strategy-conradoEduardo Conrado has proven himself to be a nonconformist. An engineer-turned-marketer, Conrado not only oversees marketing for Motorola Solutions, but also recently added IT to his management portfolio. Throughout his 20-year career with the company, he’s underscored his ability to lead through innovation and establish new expectations for the realm of marketing.

With the recent expansion of his role at Motorola, Conrado accepted an opportunity to speak to Chief Content Officer magazine (a publication from CMI) about the reasons marketers must work comfortably across multiple departmental environments. 

CCO: Given the extent that technology drives budget and decision-making, is it imperative that the head of marketing for a company like Motorola have a technical background? How do you see this role as being more than just a manager of people?

Conrado: There are two sides to a CMO. One is the role as a general manager, and the other is as a marketing technologist. More and more, technology enablers and solutions drive marketing strategies. Feeling comfortable with technology [will be] a key driver for marketers, going forward.

Marketers struggle to understand to what extent IT drives marketing, especially when marketing and IT are two distinct departments. Who should drive IT discussions/decisions as they relate to content marketing?

One of marketing’s primary strengths is that we’re customer-facing, which is why we should drive these decisions. Sixty percent of a customer’s brand content consumption happens before they engage with a company, and marketing needs to continually evaluate this. Distribution is technology driven, which enables you to position customers to your specific sites and sales channels. You need to base the analytics on the customer personas, what company they’re from, their roles, and what’s relevant. Marketing needs a technology ecosystem that can empower this, plus content testing and personalization so you better appreciate what’s generating action.

CCO: How do you actually go about breaking down the barriers between marketing and IT? What mechanisms have you put in place to ensure there is collaboration?

Conrado: An analyst from Gartner told me that just over one-third of CIOs report directly to a CEO. That means two-thirds report through another function. If it’s under operations, the CIO’s focus will be supply chain and distribution channels. Under the CFO, it will be costs. But under the CMO, the CIO will focus on systems of engagement and the customer while providing a holistic view on how the IT function can be a strategic differentiator for the company. That’s the emphasis we wanted for technology.

A few years back, our CIO and I carved out part of the IT staff to focus on marketing and sales. That was our starting point — to have an IT staff that honed in on customers and our systems of engagement.

Fast-forward 18 months, and we had a digital team and an IT team that focused on marketing. The CIO and I agreed that we’d be more efficient and effective with a single structure that reported into marketing with a dotted line into IT. That gave the team a better ability to architect solutions, select vendors, and build the system. That move took us into a hybrid environment.

As of January, the CIO now reports within my group. There are two ways marketing benefits from this. First, we have 22,000 employees worldwide, and IT systems make it easier to identify our internal experts and bring visibility to them. Second, marketing benefits from improved knowledge and content management. We focus a lot of our marketing and IT efforts on systems of engagement (i.e., anything that interacts with a customer, from a single portal for channel partners to systems for direct sales). We see IT as a strategic differentiator and, if we do it right, a revenue generator.

CCO: With [so many] people publishing globally, how do you ensure they [are working] in concert with a unified corporate story, yet are still preserving the individuality of regions and vertical markets?

Conrado: We have key verticals, and each breaks into three pillars for our content strategy — thought leadership, demand generation, and sales enablement. We spent a great deal of time talking to marketing and sales so they understood it. Then we rolled out a consistent platform on a global basis, and regional teams added to it, both by vertical and country. Our focus isn’t on cost savings. It’s on better alignment and creating additional value for our customers and our sales teams. 

CCO: Following on that, what [is] your strategy with brand content?

Conrado: We start with the customer and make everything relevant to them. Because we do solutions-based marketing, we have to know customer personas very well, understand their drivers and challenges, and make all of our brand content speak to that. Customers look to Motorola to deliver a point of view on major trends.

We also look at how to deliver content to our teams based on their customers, the channels they use, what content they consume, and how they consume it. Our deep integration with IT enables marketing to tailor brand content to the buyer we’re talking to during a specific engagement.

CCO: How do you see content marketing affecting your channel marketing?

Conrado: We look at content that the channels can personalize, similar to a direct sales team. We create it with involvement from sales, marketing, and product marketing. Instead of collateral of the past, we’re elevating our sales teams to trusted advisers with a distinct point of view. Our customers view us as the expert.

We spend time training sales teams on products, but it’s just as important that they’re fluent with our point of view and can tailor conversations to any level within our customer’s organization. The more complex the solution, the more important our point of view. Customers have complimented us for taking the story of “why change” to a point where everyone gets it.

CCO: What’s the thing that you worry about most, whether it’s because you haven’t mastered it, don’t know enough about it, or feel the company isn’t doing it well?

Conrado: There are two things, and we’re still working on them. One is our ability to leverage content creators around the world more effectively. The demand for content will increase, and we have to have real-time visibility into what’s being created. The other area is inbound marketing. If you do outbound well, then inbound will work well. Testing in real time and across multiple variables is the next challenge.

This article originally appeared in the May 2012 issue of Chief Content Officer. Sign up to receive your free subscription to our quarterly magazine.