A typical print production organization encompasses several internal entities that are often distinct and isolated from one another. Among others, your company’s departments may include groups dedicated to marketing, creative, production, and data. In the past, disassociation among these groups was manageable. Some departments even found it acceptable to maintain mild adversarial relationships; they just didn’t see things the same way, but arms-length interactions didn’t influence the ability to do business.
Things have changed. Today’s most successful enterprises are reaping the benefits of bringing their internal groups together. They are creating a competitive advantage by speeding time to market and delivering high quality products in an environment where print service providers are forging deeper relationships with their clients. In this article we will concentrate on the ties between marketing and data.
Though it might be obvious that nearly all modern marketing efforts are data driven, full-fledged collaboration between the marketing people and the IT folks isn’t automatic. They pass information to each other, but the effort is mostly of the “throw it over the wall” variety. They rarely join forces, and each group may perceive the other as unrealistic, demanding, or uncooperative. When either group is pre-committed to their independent approach, disagreements and last-minute adjustments detract from the project’s success.
When working separately, marketing has been known to purchase tools and systems rather than rely on IT. Besides propagating duplicate functionality and introducing hardware or software uncovered by corporate security and standards, these moves cause friction between the groups.
The latest promotional innovations are always attractive to the marketing staff. Trends move quickly in their world, so when they identify a need they usually want their solutions implemented at once. IT takes a methodical and calculated approach to their work and wants to build stable solutions that last, which can take a long time. Harmonizing ideologically opposite cultures is highly beneficial, but not always easy.
The joint efforts of marketing and data are necessary to define the audiences your company strives to reach. Marketing typically creates a strategic plan and identifies segments. They set the parameters for research and information gathering, manage the budgets, and analyze metrics.
Corporate data people bring value to collaborative projects by analyzing in-house and acquired data. They will clean it up to remove duplicates and irrelevant information and enrich the data with modeling and appending techniques. The techies need to realize engineering every application perfectly so it integrates seamlessly within the corporate computing environment is sometimes unnecessary. Marketing campaigns have short life spans. Modest technical specifications may be sufficient.
For their part, marketing specialists must appreciate the support, licensing, and administrative costs of maintaining a diverse set of software solutions. Tight controls are sometimes necessary to prevent privacy breaches or computing system intrusions.
When IT and marketing work together, a cross-functional team can match technical resources and software capabilities with marketing plans. Joint decisions about investing (or not investing) in servers, communication networks, software, or outside experts are likely to yield the best results.
Throughout most of history, IT has developed solutions from an inside-out perspective. The technical staff only considered client impact after investing in design and programming. In contrast, working on projects with their marketing counterparts from end-to-end provides programmers the opportunity to start with the ideal result in mind and work backwards.
Gimbel & Associates Best Practices and Success Strategies
Communication is the key to accomplishment. Lack of communication often leads to failed or difficult campaigns and projects. Interaction and alignment is critical for project success.
Clarity on Project Goals – Assemble cross functional teams to brainstorm and establish well-defined project goals. Define the project’s measures for success. Marketing and IT should enable all team members to have ownership of the project and their roles in the overall plan.
Communication Platform – Use a collaboration tool so team members from different disciplines can see documentation, provide input, and review team member comments. A common platform eliminates misunderstandings and keeps people on task.
Crawl, Walk, Run – Most successful projects start small, before they are refined and expanded. Don’t burden teams with overwhelming complexity when implementing new strategies and programs.
Workflow and Project Diagram – Create a visual plan for the project and campaign. Many people learn better with pictures and visual aids. Plot each step, including all the branches, options, or decision points. This allows people to collaborate and bring new ideas for improvements.
Leaders at printing and communications companies are responsible for creating environments where the marketing and IT departments are focused on common goals and objectives. Make sure everyone understands the big picture and facilitate internal communication. Form cross-functional teams to work on projects and dole out praise and credit for collaborative efforts.