A recent issue of CIO Magazine addressed the perceptions, often negative, that companies have for their internal IT departments. This is commonly discussed subject and rightly so since many IT projects cost more than was planned and deliver less than what was expected.
To address and change perceptions of IT, one can engage in what is referred to as IT Marketing. Wade Vann, CIO of Simmons Bedding says this, "Marketing is really about giving the customer what they want and staying in touch with the customer." This is accurate even when dealing with internal clients.
Although easier said than done, here are the six steps that CIO Magazine has identified as key to the success of an IT marketing effort:
- Target: Determine what you want to communicate to your company and which individuals or groups you need to reach. Your marketing efforts will be wasted if you don't get to the right people.
- Research: Learn about your constituents and their needs by talking with them directly. In person is best, of course. Also, conduct formal surveys which gives people a chance to think about their answers.
- Pitch: Create a value story that encapsulates what you're trying to market, what value your department brings to your company, and the benefits a specific project will deliver. That last item in the list is particularly important as people can relate to projects more than vague ideas of overall value and benefit.
- Staff: Prepare your employees for the marketing effort with training on what to say, how to say it, and in what context. Identify the creative, articulate people who are best equipped for this work. Everyone thinks they're good communicators. The truth is, very few people are. Don't hinder your efforts by putting the wrong people in front of your audience.
- Campaign: Communicate the value story in presentation, newsletters, and events, as well as in one-on-one conversations. Try to avoid looking desperate.
- Metrics: Establish objectives for the internal marketing effort ahead of time, and measure your own and your department's ability to meet them. Hold staff accountable by incorporating related performance metrics into their reviews.