Friday, February 29, 2008

The CIO versus the CMO - slow and steady (with the right strategy) wins the race!

Once upon a time there was a Fortune 500 CMO who, boasting how he could generate business better and faster than anyone else, was forever teasing the company's CIO for his limited contributions to customer acquisition and retention. Then one day, the irate CIO answered back: "Who do you think you are? There's no denying you're fast, but even you can be beaten with the right strategy!" The CMO squealed with laughter.
"Beaten in a competition? By whom? Not you, surely! I bet there's nobody in the world that can win against me, I'm so good at what I do. Now, why don't you try?"

Annoyed by such bragging, the CIO accepted the challenge. A competition was planned, and the next day at dawn they stood at the starting line. The goal was to generate new business by engaging new or lost customers. The CMO had been honing his craft for several years, and his marketing team was the best in the business. The CIO had only recently begun testing a strategy that included reaching out to customers and potential customers to engage them in communication -- even building relationships . . . It started when he realized that this strategy produced the best crop of employees, and he was interested in testing to see whether it worked for company business, as well.

The CMO yawned sleepily as the CIO trudged slowly off to his office to send a Twitter message to his team. When the CMO saw how painfully slow his rival was moving, he decided, half asleep on his feet, to have a quick nap instead of rallying his top-notch marketers. "Take your time!" he said. "I'll have forty winks and catch up with you in a minute."

The CIO's team got busy, posting on their well-read, cross-linked blogs, updating the internal and external technology wikis, and brainstorming (on Skype, and Free Conference Calls, of course) ways to get the word out. One of the team members had his video camera, so the team shot a quick (amateur) video announcing the challenge, posted it on YouTube, and then posted it on their blogs and their networking profiles.

The CMO woke with a start from a fitful sleep and gazed round, looking for the CIO. But the CIO was only a short distance away, having barely moved at all while blogging for the third time that day on Social Media Today and Always On: The Insider's Network. Breathing a sigh of relief, the CMO decided he might as well have breakfast, and off he went to eat at the new Cinnabon he had noticed across from the mall. But the heavy meal and the decaf latte made his eyelids droop by the time he made it back to the office.

With a careless glance at the CIO, now engaged in a webinar with over 100 new contacts from LinkedIn and another 75 from Facebook, the CMO decided to have another snooze before rallying his team for a winning last-minute marketing push that afternoon. And smiling at the thought of the look on the CIO's face when he realized the CMO's intellectual superiority, he fell fast asleep and was soon snoring happily, with his feet kicked up on his desk.

The sun started to sink below the horizon, and the CIO, who had posting (and linkinng) to related posts in the blogosphere since that morning, was getting up for his last Jolt. At that very point, the CMO woke with his own jolt. He could see the CIO walking toward his office from the break room and off he dashed. He set up an on-the-fly conference call with his team at record speed and gave them all news of the challenge, his tongue dragging, and gasping for breath. Just one strong push and he'd be the winner. He called a handful of his fellow CMOs and asked them to negotiate some quick dual-branding strategies so he could claim a superior follow-on strategy, and typed up a press release in a matter of minutes.

But the CMO's last minute leap was just too late, for the CIO had beaten him with his slow and methodical relationship-building strategy. The CIO's team was just shy of having 500 new relationships that day -- a third of which were with former customers, and over 150 had placed rather large orders. Poor CMO! Tired and in disgrace, he slumped down beside the CIO who was leaning against the wall silently smiling at him.

"Slow and steady (with the right strategy) wins every time!" he said.

This contemporary re-write of The Tortoise and the Hare, one of Aesop's Fables, was designed to provide you with a glimpse into the paradigm shift that business has to make in order to survive The Emergence of The Relationship Economy.

What do you think?

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