How to write for the new CIO: a Radix primer

Writing a great piece of targeted B2B copy means knowing your audience – and their line of business – inside out. And lately, the role of the CIO has changed. Let’s find out how.


The Chief Information Officer is an interesting creature.

Less than a decade ago, it was uncertain whether the role had a future, but – lo and behold –  it evolved. Today, the CIO is expected to be the driving force behind digital transformation.

But that said, the CIO still appreciates a helping hand now and then – even if it’s just to nudge them in the direction of the right enterprise technology. And that’s where well-written marketing content comes in.

But first, we need to understand the role, and the pressures involved.

The CIO – then and now

Traditionally, the CIO’s pressures came from balancing the books and mitigating risk, but today, they arguably face the greatest challenge of all C-suite executives.

With the emergence of the tech-savvy Chief Digital Officer, the CIO has had to step up, and face the tricky job of maintaining and migrating legacy systems, while delivering the latest technology and enabling mobile working.

For many CIOs, it’s been a long time since they actively engaged with IT on a ground level – maybe even as far back as the 1980s. We assume the CIO is still a technologist, but they are often far more interested in the business benefits technology can deliver, not how many numbers it can push per second.

Forced out of their comfort zone, and left with no choice but to enable the agile and flexible service their customers and employees expect, it’s only natural that a CIO should take advantage of helpful brand content. But what should that copy look like?

No time wasters, thanks

The CIO doesn’t have much time in their day to dive into B2B marketing, and for some of us, that means getting pretty ruthless with our copy. No fat, no fluff – every sentence needs a purpose.

At Radix, we have a ton of experience writing for C-suite executives, so I asked my colleagues to share some of their thoughts on writing for the CIO. Here’s what George Reith had to say:

“When writing for a CIO, I have to be so careful not to patronise them, or cast doubt on their ability to deliver the goods. But at the same time, I never assume they know everything on a ground level. They’ve experienced the upheaval of mobile and cloud over a short period of time, but I won’t avoid introducing new technical trends on a business level – I believe that’s exactly what they want.”

And when it comes to making decisions, David McGuire finds CIOs aren’t afraid to follow their gut instincts:

“Whenever I’ve attended industry events with CIOs from big enterprises, it’s quickly become apparent that there are as many approaches to their big, common challenges as there are people in the room. And the thing I found interesting was how often those preferences were based on gut feeling; for a persona that’s presumed to be so rational and analytical, a lot of people were talking about what they ‘felt most comfortable’ with.”

Bringing CIO copy to life

In 2015, Octopus Group published the Tech Heads report and it revealed 41% of CIOs believe today’s B2B marketing copy is too generic. In fact, they called it their number one frustration with vendor content. But as writers that’s encouraging; it confirms that getting detailed and adding a touch of originality isn’t going to be a problem.

CIOs want a fresh spin on important topics – so we always aim to show them something they didn’t know. Of course, this is easier said than done, so when approaching a CIO centric topic, we make a habit of asking ourselves: am I preaching the converted? Am I boring them? Am I just echoing existing copy?

It’s fine for us to say “cloud-native app development is faster and more flexible”, but it’s always better if we offer an example of what their team can actually do with this technology, and in turn how that helps their business.

The anti-tech tech-head

If we find the technical intricacies of our copy tough to understand, then chances are the CIO will too. The trick for us writers is to use ourselves as a template audience: just say what is it, what it does, and how it helps – and keep it as simple as possible.

And with that said, I’ll leave you with this quote from our Head of Copy Team, Matt Godfrey:

“The CIOs I’ve spoken to really couldn’t care less what technology they use or what it does – they’re far more interested in getting the right business outcomes. They’re also (usually) playing the long game, although they’ll happily take a quick win if it fits their overall strategy.”

Put simply: they won’t abide fluff – so we give them what they want, when they want it. And we make it snappy.

Need to convince the C-suite?

Radix has a whole team of writers experienced in writing content for B2B technology audiences. If you have a project in mind, let us help you. Get in touch today, and we’ll talk about your options.

Ben P

Ben is a versatile writer who came to Radix with years of experience as a marketing copywriter and, before that, as an entertainment journalist. With a keen ability to ask the right questions at the right time, Ben is adept at digging into complex topics and finding high-value hooks that help make high-impact content.

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