Can CIO Turbocharge NASCAR Revenue?
By BobEvans on Aug 24, 2012
We’re hearing a lot these days about the burgeoning influence of CMOs over IT buying decisions and the increasing purchasing power held by those marketing execs. And that makes perfect sense as more and more companies look beyond CRM to the new generation of Customer Experience solutions to help drive revenue and engage with customers more intimately.
So it’s interesting to see how a new hybrid model in the auto-racing industry is faring in its efforts to apply the power of IT to the fluid dynamics of consumer marketing.
And in this case, the hybrid model has nothing to do with overhead cams and internal-combustion horsepower but everything to do with using IT-driven insights to get NASCAR fans to buy more tickets and engage more actively with the sport.
Because in the case of a company that operates 13 racetracks where NASCAR events are held, the CIO who also runs the marketing team. From a Wall Street Journal article:
“International Speedway CIO Craig Neeb is trying to rev up weak NASCAR ticket sales and help the company cut better sponsorship deals by bringing marketing for all its tracks under one roof…. Currently, International Speedway’s 13 tracks, like Talladega and Daytona, many of which were acquired separately over decades, operate as semi-autonomous fiefdoms when it comes to marketing, Neeb said. That means that similar videos campaigns are often duplicated and opportunities to sell sponsorships across several tracks get lost.”
The Journal article notes that Neeb assumed responsibility for marketing in 2009, and exemplifies the ways in which tech leaders are getting more deeply involved in marketing strategy because modern solutions have become so intensely technical—and will certainly become even more so.
“Marketing typically has real visionaries, but they can be challenged in doing what it really takes to execute with measureable results,” the article quotes Neeb as saying.
While this is a fascinating example of C-level evolution, I think Neeb’s making a bit of a generalization about CMOs in saying that “they can be challenged…to execute with measurable results.”
It’s the same type of stereotype that has hamstrung CIOs for years as tech dweebs who don’t really understand the business world, or marketing campaigns, or customer engagement. Perhaps in some slow-moving companies, those hardened-silo outlooks persist, but in top-performing businesses across the world, all C-level execs are balancing their domain expertise with intense focus on customer behavior and other external factors.
That nitpick aside, Neeb presents a compelling example of a CIO moving boldly into business responsibilities that have not traditionally been a part of the CIO’s métier.
Neeb is planning a centralized cloud-based marketing system that will “allow him to make sure business-oriented metrics are attached to campaigns so managers will know if projects have reached their goal. All too often local track marketers haven’t had tangible numeric goals for campaigns,” the article says.
It also adds that Neeb is leaning on his CIO chops to ensure that International Speedway is able to blend market-facing social-media data with transactional data such as sales of customer tickets. As the article says:
“If I say I want a campaign to gain 1,000 Facebook followers for a [marketing] contest – what is the real value of that?” Neeb said. “We want to know how many of those people have gone out and bought tickets.”
Precisely! And as CIOs gain more expertise with modern marketing campaigns, and as CMOs get more comfortable with the potential impact modern technology can have on their projects, we’re going to see more and more executives of all stripes speaking with that same sort of growth-oriented focus and clarity rather than merely in the narrow dialects of their specialized fields.
Bob Evans is senior vice-president, communications, at Oracle.