Technology marketers have spent decades trying to connect with CIOs. And in an environment where technology is fueling innovation, yet investment capital remains tight, reaching CIOs has never been more important (or more difficult).

Yet many marketers continue to fall short when it comes to understanding this audience and developing the right marketing approach.

More than ever before, CIOs are inundated with marketing communications. They are more selective regarding where they get their information, resulting in fewer opportunities to get your message through. So the way you approach them is as important as the speed at which you make your point.

Rule of thumb: Don't make a move until you're confident that you understand their issues and have offerings that will bring CIOs real value.

Ultimately, there is no silver bullet, but below are five tips for getting noticed and, more importantly, engaging this important audience in a productive conversation.

1. A CIO is a CIO? Throw that assumption out the window

Today, fewer and fewer CIOs are technology wonks. Many are technologists who've become business people out of necessity. And some of them are business people with a passion for IT. It pays to know the difference.

For marketers, that means you can't treat them all the same. CIO Magazine has identified four common CIO personas: business leaders, who put a premium on understanding business processes; innovation agents, who believe strongly in IT's ability to drive new business initiatives; operational executives, who place strong emphasis on their project management and execution skills; and turnaround artists, risk takers who see themselves primarily as agents of change.

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Sherri Leopard is founder and CEO of business-to-business marketing firm Leopard Communications (, a wholly owned subsidiary of OgilvyOne North America.