Originally posted to LinkedIn on September 11, 2018
I have been consulting in the field of Digital Marketing Technology for nearly 20 years. I have worked with companies big and small, though mostly big. These were organizations, mostly publicly traded, with all types of cultures. From workplaces that hummed at that perfect pitch where ingenuity and imagination meet scrappiness, collaboration and progress, to cultures that were downright toxic, wasteful, even spiteful. As a business owner myself, in addition to working with these companies, I can say for certain that the latter toxicity kills innovation and productivity when it comes to digital marketing.
This toxic soup I am on about is not a one-off or something that only a few bad apples serve up within their Digital Marketing teams. This isn't just corporate politics as usual. It's pervasive. I would say that at least half of the organizations I have worked with over the years have some level of unhealthy strife between internal teams.
So, today I am starting to write down and share some of the musings I have had over the last two decades and propose something of a pact between IT and Marketing I hope that some larger organizations will adopt. I will come back to this Peace Pact in the coming weeks and months with later installments focusing on different topics for creating and nurturing an environment of collaboration where Marketing Technology reaches peak performance. The first topic is Sweating the Big Stuff.
Sweat the big stuff
Oftentimes, we will ask a client why they are doing something (or asking us to do something). Many times, this is in response to us being asked to take a shortcut or spend precious budget doing something, and we just can't see how it aligns with our understanding of the mission. So, as trusted consultants, we start asking questions. In larger organizations, often we will get the proverbial "It comes from the top". Sometimes, "it's not a hill we want to die on" and if it's not a detriment we will just do the thing. But alas, sometimes we must persist. Especially, when the task will potentially hurt our Client's brand. This "big stuff" can be making a change to their mobile app for instance, which will destroy the user experience. Or, it could be ignoring a critical necessary security update to their e-commerce site, because it may cost precious budget dollars that could be used on something a bit more flashy.
Both IT and Marketing must build trust by being transparent with what their goals are and they must be willing to justify to each other how their proposed tactics align with those goals. For example, "We want to create a new sign up page template because our recent user research shows that we need to get leads down the funnel faster. We understand that there is development cost and risk to this, but we have measured that cost against the ROI...". Not only will this 'justification' step help keep your own ambitions in check, it will help build trust and a spirit of collaboration. On the IT side, don't just tell the Marketing group you need to consolidate all CRM capabilities on one platform (another post coming on how centralization in and of itself is not a strategy, but merely a tactic), invite them to do a cost-benefit analysis to moving to a centralized platform for CRM.
A good start is a monthly steering committee meeting with all major internal stakeholders, including the IT organization in charge of supporting the Marketing technology (CRM, .com, mobile, etc.). All tasks and initiatives must be 'checked' against the mission and all egos checked at the door!
Next installment we will discuss how neither team should use information or knowledge as currency or 'use big words' to obfuscate. These tactics completely erode trust... not to mention, life is too short.