IT-Marketing Partnerships Are Key to Business Success
By Shane Caniglia
If your technology team is still hiding in the server room, you are missing out on a great opportunity to be a strategic part of your company’s success. Social media, personalized emails, newsletters, video and other technologies are key aspects for delivering content and staying competitive in today’s economy.
In fact, according to a 2011 Pew Internet Survey, “Fully 65 percent of adult Internet users now say they use a social networking site like Facebook or LinkedIn, up from 61 percent one year ago.”
With these stats, your company’s target market is probably online. To effectively reach out and connect with them, your marketing team will rely more and more on your support to implement new techniques and measure results. Standalone initiatives from either marketing or IT are a sign of a dysfunctional organization … and it won’t take long before it affects your bottom line.
Can marketing and IT teams work effectively together? Yes, they can—but not when they are at odds. If you find yourself responding to marketing’s requests with any of these statements, you’re not functioning as a partner to marketing.
“This deadline is unrealistic.”
“We don’t have the resources or budget for this.”
“You don’t understand what IT does.”
Well, it’s time to understand the dynamic of your organization. Today’s CIOs and their teams are becoming an integral part of the overall sales process. By helping your marketing department test initiatives and monitor results that increase the bottom line, you’ll provide more value to the company. And that can lead to increased job security, bigger paychecks, and even a larger budget for hiring and purchasing top-line equipment, software and services.
But how do you start the change process to improve communications between your teams? Here are three steps to open the communication floodgates:
1. Understand the marketing plan and research the competitive use of technology.
Who are your company’s customers, and what methodology is your marketing team using to reach and expand that audience? What key technologies could support your marketing team to deliver content in a more timely and measurable way? Write down why these applications are important and get examples of what your competitors are doing. Then determine what it will take to incorporate these technologies and estimate the results that could be achieved.
2. Arrange a think tank.
Talk to the head of your marketing department and arrange an idea-sharing meeting. Review collective ideas, choosing one as a test. Keep in mind that the marketing department is working to provide the audience with what it wants. It won’t matter if the technology you provide is brilliant; if your audience does not respondwell, the project will not be useful. Choose a project that is mutually beneficial—something that willsolve a specific marketing problem or test a new technology.
For example, when our marketing department was dealing with numerous issues related to sharing information on a worldwide basis, our team presented a plan using Facebook’s Livestream technology. By hosting these events, we could use free technology that was readily available and reach a worldwide audience in real time. With this plan, we can continue to give our customers what they want, when and where they want it.
3. Perform a test project.
Once you establish your first project, be sure to document procedures, communicate timelines, and monitor systems and costs. Start small with managed variables so that the final reporting can be accomplished in a timely manner.
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For example, after we held our live-streamed book-signing event, we saw a significant increase in site visitors, clicks to buy products, increased customer knowledge and feedback. We had valuable information that it was a successful event. More important, the process inspired us to develop new ideas to make the next event even better.
Share the Excitement
Increased involvement across departments is never easy, especially between creative marketing teams that communicate with customers and technology teams don’t like exit pop-ups, which attempt to keep visitors from leaving a site. Opening a line of communication so you can test new initiatives takes time and effort from all involved. But after you’ve completed that first project with some meaningful results, both teams will be able to share the excitement of positive customer experiences and increased sales.
Collaboration is the key to company success. The outdated scenario of departmental silos has been replaced with dynamics that allow both marketing and IT departments to grow. It’s essential for marketing departments to use the latest technologies to reach out to customers. In turn, it’s important for technology experts to expand their scope of work and collaborate with the marketing department.
In the long run, everyone wins. The marketing department is happy because measured efforts allow quick testing, changes in real time and improved sales. Your technology team gets to be more creative and work on innovative processes. And your customers receive more value from your company.
Shane Caniglia is the director of technology at the financial education company, The Rich Dad Co., Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad and other books.