Why do so many Marketing Heads not know who their companies sell to?

Have just been watching an interesting interview with Ardath Albee where she says she’d lost count of the number of marketing heads who said their company sold into ‘the CIO’. And so that was who their marketing was – albeit loosely – aimed at. Yet Ardath, and the company’s salesforce, were well aware that the CIO wouldn’t ever get involved at the level of purchase that the vendor was providing, and that both the specifier and the check-signer were significantly down the food-chain from the CIO.

So why isn’t that message translating to marketing in these situations? Is the decision-maker ever-changing, with the CIO the only ever-present? Do they believe that the CIO will hear the message and be so interested that they take it upon themselves to pass it down their org? Or do marketing depts. just not want to hear? Perhaps because of the old motto about ‘selling from the top down’?

I can so relate to Ardath’s point. The number of times marketing clients of mine over the years have said they’re aiming at the C-suite, without seemingly differentiating the very different roles of which that comprises. Proving once more that most vendors come unstuck at stage one – knowing your buyer. It’s not surprising. Of all the marketing depts. I’ve worked in and for, not once was I ever given formal training or advice on who our target buyer was. Maybe no-one felt qualified to provide that advice.

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