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5/27/2014
07:06 AM
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IT Leaders Must Assume New Role: Marketers

Marketing isn't just the CMO's job. Getting directly involved with customer engagement is necessary for your IT career and your company's success, experts at Authority 2014 explained.

and creativity to the forefront of our companies and organizations. "It's always too soon," Godin said. "But here's the thing: When Gutenberg launched the printing press, 93% of people were illiterate. What a lousy time to invent it!"

Look how few truly large organizations have adopted new methodologies such as Lean Startup or actual cloud computing (as opposed to cloudwashing). We always want things to be fully "ready" before we launch them. Said Godin: "Important work always ships before it's ready."

How do you get beyond that fear factor? Handley's suggestion: "Place lots of small wagers, experiment." Then measure how successful those wagers are.


Overcoming fear and doubters

There will be plenty of naysayers. "Smart people are going to say that you're no good when you do important work," Godin said. I remember when my senior network engineer, a very smart guy but a member of the Microsoft one-app-per-one-server camp, tried to talk me out of virtualization. "Jonathan, you may not realize that more than one operating system will be running on one piece of hardware," he told me, with a tacit "you idiot!" at the end of the sentence. We all know how that assertion turned out.

The new marketing is the virtualization of modern business. Most of us, asked if we're willing to throw out the old rulebook to engage with customers and advance business goals, would say yes easily. But most of us won't follow through.

Here's why you'd better overcome your fear of the unknown and follow through:

First, survival. Your company's or organization's ability to survive very likely depends on your ability to help it understand and operate in the new marketing. And marketing is becoming a more tech-intensive business by the minute. I dare you: Dig into this stuff even a little bit and tell me that I'm wrong.

Second, meaning. This is just a better way to do business. Permission-based marketing is replacing the slimy sales reptile, which can't succeed in a world in which the buyer, not the seller, has the information advantage. Don't believe me? Read Daniel H. Pink's To Sell Is Human. The upshot is that the rake 'em and run tactic is giving way to sales and marketing relationships that are honest, and therefore meaningful, which most of us prefer.

Third, prosperity. Your personal brand matters more than ever, and the more you engage in the new, non-mass marketing, the more you personally will prosper. Gone are the days when the ad agency pushed out relatively anonymous content to the masses. In the new reality, employees like you are creating engaging content: Webiners, blog posts, community comments, "ask me anything" chats, tutorial videos. Those IT folks who participate in this marketing will grow their personal brands.

Fourth, impact. The world of mass marketing and industrial organization meant that, individually, we never had much of an impact on our organizations. But in this new world of "1,000 true fans" not only are we working to promote our companies' products and services, but our customers are, too. That's huge.

"Someone in this room is going to change everything," Godin said at the Authority conference. "It's not because they have more resources than you. It's because they care." Care. Produce meaning. That's the path of the new marketing for yourself and for your business. IT can help lead the way.

Trying to meet today's business technology needs with yesterday's IT organizational structure is like driving a Model T at the Indy 500. Time for a reset. Read our Transformative CIOs Organize For Success report today. (Free registration required.)

Jonathan Feldman is Chief Information Officer for the City of Asheville, North Carolina, where his business background and work as an InformationWeek columnist have helped him to innovate in government through better practices in business technology, process, and human ... View Full Bio
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Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
5/30/2014 | 11:03:05 AM
Re: We're all marketers now
Two great tips, JF. I am also a believer in writing as a way to find your speaking voice, if you are unsure of that speaking voice.
jfeldman
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jfeldman,
User Rank: Strategist
5/30/2014 | 10:09:49 AM
Re: We're all marketers now
What!? There are IT folks who are introverts?

:-D

I actually know several marketing GENIUSES who are introverts. "Famous guy" case in point: Darren Rowse, founder of Problogger (he also gave some FANTASTIC advice at the conference about how to do meaningful work, btw.) But I remember that he tweeted something like, "ok, I've been chatting with you extroverts for a while, time for me to retreat into my introvert cave now," as a reason why he wasn't joining yet another extroverted party/event. So, Protip #1, let the extroverts know that you're an introvert so that they forgive you.

Protip #2: find other introverts who happen to be good at communication and marketing and figure out how they're dealing with it. My suspicion is that they rely more on writing and non-in-person tools, but that's just a guess. If I was an introvert, I could confirm. But as you know, I AM A FLAMING EXTROVERT. :-)

 
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
5/30/2014 | 8:54:10 AM
Re: We're all marketers now
Jonathan, what is your advice to IT introverts who don't like this new be-a-marketer dynamic?
jfeldman
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jfeldman,
User Rank: Strategist
5/30/2014 | 8:40:06 AM
Re: We're all marketers now
Sure, there will always be a place for those technologists who can't deal with customers -- but that pool will become increasingly smaller as time goes on, IMO.
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
5/28/2014 | 3:30:59 PM
We're all marketers now
Jonathan, I imagine there will be challenges with getting rank-and-file IT folks to suddenly put on a marketing hat. Many in IT didn't sign up for this. What if they're just not cut out for customer engagement but are brilliant technologists? Will they, like many of us in various lines of work, come to accept that marketing is all our jobs now, and adapt?
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
5/28/2014 | 9:17:27 AM
Tell Your Story
Some of the best CIOs in the business -- those who are most in touch with their organization's needs and consistently get buy-in for sometimes sweeping tech changes -- are those who do the best job of communicating with customers: the end-users within their organization. You can call it marketing, but this communication via internal (and external) social media; user and executive groups; departmental workgroups, and more increases IT's visibility and creates a reputation as a partner, as a team that works with other departments and individuals to get things done, as opposed to the group that says 'no.' 
GAProgrammer
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GAProgrammer,
User Rank: Ninja
5/28/2014 | 8:29:15 AM
Re: Merging of IT and Marketing
I couldn't agree more about Analytics - that is Marketing's domain, not really IT invovlement (other than support for the required hardware/software). I've always thought of business data analysis as a marketing function, but that may just be me.

I definitely agree that Shadow IT is a monster of IT's own making, usually due to lack of responsiveness or cooperation. It still boggles my mind that there are IT leaders out there who think they work in a silo of servers where they can hand down edicts from on high. To me, the job of IT is to support the business and OTHER departments, not their own. Sadly, I can tell from forums and articles that this just isn't the case.
jfeldman
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jfeldman,
User Rank: Strategist
5/28/2014 | 8:01:39 AM
Re: Merging of IT and Marketing

Actually, there ARE people telling Marketing that they need to become better at tech and analytics. A lot of the marketing content at Authority was surrounding responsive web design, metadata / schema, and so on. And yes, shadow/rogue IT happens when peoples' needs aren't getting met through the normal channels. (I wrote something about the shadow IT misnomer the other day, actually: Shadow IT Is Over (If You Want It)

mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
5/27/2014 | 10:16:50 PM
Re: Merging of IT and Marketing
@GAProgrammer


Funny how no one ever tells Marketing that they need to become more IT focused. While I certainly understand the need to cooperate between departments, for IT to become markters seems a bit short sighted.

As much as I would like to agree with you on this, you can't really expect marketers to create "engaging content: webinars, blog posts, community comments, "ask me anything" chats, tutorial videos", etc. Right? Perhaps we need to create a new department. We can call it MarkIT.

 

 
GAProgrammer
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GAProgrammer,
User Rank: Ninja
5/27/2014 | 2:37:38 PM
Merging of IT and Marketing
I have seen tons of articles in the tech press lately about how IT needs to become markters. Do you think it is because Marketing had to resort to Shadow IT to get things done and made great strides? Or is this just the latest in tech buzz, like DevOps and the 100 other words out there?

Funny how no one ever tells Marketing that they need to become more IT focused. While I certainly understand the need to cooperate between departments, for IT to become markters seems a bit short sighted.
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