Topic: Just for Fun

How Can Marketing Work Effectively With Web Developers?

Posted by Anonymous on 500 Points
I've been in professional publishing for about 20 years, and for the last 10 or so I've been in IT, marketing or both. During that time I've seen a lot of conflict between these two groups.

I'm working on a presentation for a marketing conference. The goal of the presentation is to educate marketers about IT and help them bridge some of the cultural and knowledge gaps that can delay or ruin projects (and make IT and marketing grumpy with each other).

I've asked IT professionals what drives them crazy about marketing, and now I'm asking you marketing professionals what drives you crazy about IT.

Also, have you discovered any techniques or procedures that help you work effectively with your IT department?



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  • Posted by mgoodman on Moderator
    I too have been on both sides of that Marketing/IT fence, and I'm reluctant to stereotype people in either functional area. There are jerks and princes everywhere.

    The technique I have found most effective (from both perspectives) is to start with business goals and strategies and openly discuss the pros and cons of the alternative solutions and approaches. The real key is to have a constructive dialogue and build a trusting relationship.

    From a marketing perspective (only), I think the thing that bugs me most about IT folks is a mindset that starts with, "We can't do that." It is like a flat-out rejection of a request without a fair hearing ... and we all know that IT "can do anything," given enough time and money.

    Hope this helps.
  • Posted by Jay Hamilton-Roth on Accepted
    For your presentation, provide some rough estimates to achieve various IT tasks. For example: time to update a web page, time to create a new website, time to do a mail merge, time to add a new field to a database, time to add a form to a web page, etc.

    By better understanding the cost of implementing various IT efforts, there will be better planning and respect of time constraints.
  • Posted by steven.alker on Accepted
    Dear Gregg

    Randall’s said that no one in IT on introduction has ever explained what IT is and for me that includes what they do.

    I could be cruel and say that as a junior or as a director I have heard of few marketers who can explain what marketing is, without running out of paper!

    That’s why on taking over a new position as general sales manager I went round every single divisional manager and had a 2 hour meeting to ask them what their departments did, what their departmental interactions were with Sales and Marketing and what were the aspects which caused them the biggest headaches.

    Despite being a scientist and someone well versed in the uses of IT I can genuinely say that our IT boys lost me. It wasn’t that I didn’t speak their language – I did, but they were so competent at running their empire and so poor at external communications that I was left in a welter of acronym’s protocols, specifications and snippets of high power operating system operators that they assumed to be commonplace in mortal parlance.

    So my first and main gripe is that IT departments should have a functional communication interface with the outside world.

    The second is that given that we can speak to them, they need to specify what they need in detail to achieve what we want of them.

    On a functional level, IT runs technology – hardware and software which it specifies to be technically competent to perform tasks set out by management and outside departments. This is rarely planned as it should be and as a consequence IT departs grow organically and like topsy and often end up run by someone called Darren who is deeply into Terry Pratchet.

    Marketing would do well to regard it as a department of endless possibilities but, like the Inner Temple, unless you are of the Sanhedrin, it’s a mystery. It is also a department of inputs, outputs and controls. Inputs are things you want it to do. Outputs are services or reports or bits of hardware it provides for you. Controls are imposed by senior management to ensure that it is always possible to say “We don’t have the budget for that”

    If marketers will refrain from asking for water to flow up hills unaided and not to present IT with fuzzy concepts which are indefinable in English never mind a flow diagram or code, then they can usually respond. The trouble is that a series of problems arise which are universal.

    They nearly always want to write their own alternative to any database you ask to implement. You wouldn’t do that with a word process or a spreadsheet, so what’s so bloody special with databases that they need to re-invent the wheel to show how cool they are.

    If a project is specified in terms of features and outcomes, then they need to remember that costings and timescales still belong to planet marketing and being 6 weeks late is not an option because it is an IT project which developed hitches.

    IT is usually paid for by finance and it thereafter owned by finance. This is because the FD is usually the most important person at operational level and as accounts, manufacturing, buying and ordering are all neatly definable and no one ever got the sack through deploying Sage, the rest of us can go hang until the 12th upgrade of the book-keeping software is deployed.

    Marketing applications require real time or daily input from accounts such as detail of orders booked. That this info belongs to another department is insufficient reason to deny access to it.

    Finance wants forecasts, so why are all sales and marketing forecasting forced to operate from some shoddy run down bit of the CRM system. Because you can’t do real time reconciliations, the errors in forecasting show up just about as the sales director is about to get the sack and he never had a chance to do anything about it.

    IT must not take on any task where they do not understand the intent. All too often, marketers try to turn projects into IT Friendly speak. They miss the point – they neither know what they are saying and leave IT with a wooly feeling that they know exactly what to do when they don’t! IT managers should have the humility to say “I don’t understand what you were hoping to achieve” Rather than “yes, it will take 12 weeks and cost £30,000” when they havn’t a clue

    “It can’t be done” or “It can’t be done because (Gobbledygook)” must be replaced with “It’s too difficult (English) look, here is how we could get round the problem”

    IT should learn to ask “Who is going to read the 30 reports you want us to spend 3 weeks developing and what actions are they going to take from them”

    Steve Alker

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