Helping marketing and IT to work together

by Joanie Hollabaugh, Sr. Director of Marketing 

Frenemies for life?

Let’s make a broad assumption that many construction executives have never worked in marketing or IT services. Yet, the leadership team needs to hire to both roles. Based on my experience in construction, technology, and software industries (and on executive teams), I will caution “hirer beware!”

At the most basic level, you are co-mingling left- and right-brained skill sets. Which works fine in the human brain, but can be an opportunity for success or failure within your organization.

Why it fails

Being on the marketing side, I speak from personal experiences that IT can be quite dismissive of marketing personnel, considering it a “fluff” role. Marketing can be set at a low priority for IT support, favoring accounting’s and operation’s demands. Which is quite ironic, as marketing is an early adopter for technology, making it a potential advocate for IT’s potential growth, i.e., budgetary increases.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Another synergy is that marketing understands the importance of code and technology — having conquered html, server issues, ISPs, plugins and widgets, etc., via website management. While nowhere near the complexity of what IT deals with, the premise that “code never lies” gives marketing a healthy respect for the super powers developers have. And IT should understand that marketing ‘gets it’ because they execute on SaaS apps and web tools almost exclusively.

If that mutual respect is NOT acknowledged or promoted by upper management, silos between the departments can occur.

When it succeeds

I had the opportunity to sit with one software development team as they planned feature enhancements and planned roadmaps. My contributions regarding buyer/user/influencer personas, GUI suggestions and user experience helped bring the outcome to the market sooner, and with less friction. The team environment unified us during product launches, much to the exec’s satisfaction.

C-Sat savings

When customer satisfaction results were shared from marketing back to development, it led to market-driven feature development. Hearing directly from clients on what worked and/or what was lacking saved huge budget spend on PAYING for market research. Win for all.

It’s an Elton John — Bernie Taupin thing

One of the biggest challenges for marketing is qualifying spends through results. You know I love a good web analytics spreadsheet, but I had one Director of PSG/IT whip up a beautiful Marketing Cost per Customer Acquisition (MCAC) formula that made me weep with gratitude. He was able to produce mathematic evidence to support what I knew instinctively. To be dramatic, he scored the soundtrack to my lyrics.

Relating to Construction

So how does this relate to your construction business? Your IT department is probably mostly concerned with supporting your software and maintaining hardware. They may even help you evaluate and select your business solution software.

Meanwhile, your marketing team is working on lead development, social media strategies, and brochure websites. How to connect these disparate entities?

Connect them on a project

Maybe your CRM data is a bit of a mess. Marketing is overwhelmed at the prospect of manually updating records for segmentation that is necessary for targeted marketing. Perhaps your IT staff could write a macro or a report that can fill in some of those missing data fields (finding and filling common email conventions, updating SIC codes, etc.). Maybe neither of them dreamed it was possible.

Or maybe your maintenance or field crew is behind in response times/projects – yet the conversations or emails might be sitting right in your CRM system. Chances are, your marketer could automate alerts that would exponentially increase your response times, and ultimately, customer satisfaction.

New BFFs

Plan an offsite coffee, beer, or pizza event

Call an informal meeting away from the office distractions, and let your teams bond over lunch or Happy Hour. Taking people out of their assigned roles goes a long way for debunking presumptions and uniting opposing sides. Assign a notetaker, of bring a whiteboard for each department to create a wishlist from each side, and see what germinates.

Assign actionable items, timelines, and an incentive to reach a goal. You all may be pleasantly surprised!