What Marketers Should Learn From IT

Not “about” IT… but “from” IT.

It’s not news that marketers are under the gun to demonstrate ROI. CIOs are laughing under their breaths — they’ve been dealing with this for 25 years.

And they’ve learned a few things about how to deal with the issue. (But they’re not going to tell you, because, hey — misery loves company). If they were to share, this is what they would tell marketing:

1) Lesson #1: Get your own house in order. Successful CIOs learned quickly that no one on the management team wanted to hear about how data center issues or storage capacity troubles prevented them from focusing on end user apps. Picture an iceberg — smart CIOs kept internal issues below the waterline, and didn’t let internal issues rise above the surface.

Marketing implication: Although campaign performance or brand awareness measurements may be improving, if campaign execution is flawed, or reporting is slow because of data integration issues, marketing’s credibility will continue to be questioned.

2) Lesson #2: Become more transparent. CIOs have tinkered with committees to prioritize IT opportunities, and relationship management positions to interact with other parts of the organization. Granted, some of these tactics worked better than others — but, where successful, they helped make IT more transparent to the rest of the firm. Prioritization was no longer a black box — and even if the ROI on IT was slow to improve, senior execs had better insights into why.

Marketing implication: CMOs striving to demonstrate (and improve) marketing’s ROI can’t turn the ship around in a quarter. But when requests for market share analyses, or the development of creative materials, disappear into the marketing black box, ROI improvement efforts will appear to be taking longer than they are.

3) Lesson #3: Build strong relationships. I’m always dismayed with clients looking for a silver bullet solution to some problem. But this is probably the closest thing to a silver bullet there is. When talking to successful CIOs about why their IT group was viewed as a strong contributor within their organization, many couldn’t point to specific capabilities, practices, or processes. It was typically something less tangible — like the working relationships they had with execs and manager throughout the firm.

Marketing implication: As a senior marketing exec, you may already know how critical these relationships are, but what are your people doing to build relationships outside of the marketing department? The interpersonal relationships that marketing develops outside of the group goes a long way towards informally improving the transparency described in lesson #2.

The “uber-lesson:” While marketing makes investments in [more or less] tangible capabilities like building brand awareness, analytics, and creative design, there are other — more intangible — things that marketing can do to improve its credibility and strategic impact within its organization.

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