Once upon a time, marketers could merrily ignore most technology.  Sure, technology could be useful as a communication tool or a way to draft myriad memos or burgeoning budgets, but technology was largely peripheral.  The creative side of marketing started using more technology when drafting, and graphics tools made things much faster, much easier and much prettier.  This spread to websites, but even those were just electronic brochures more than anything else.

Computer room Now, the game has changed, and technology is a major player .

For many marketers (as you know if you regularly read this blog), nearly all job functions have moved to the Internet. Marketing is now using the Web to get found , communicate, and -- most importantly -- generate leads .  Where once we only needed to interact with the Information Technology department if our email or website was down, we now need their help for day-to-day activities.  We constantly update our websites, work to put leads in databases, blog, change DNS and all sorts of other things that we never needed to do before.  Some of our needs are so technical that we have to work with IT all the time, which can sometimes be challenging.

While it might be nice for IT folks to suddenly understand the marketing department's needs and goals, there's a reasonable chance this might not happen any time soon.  Or ever, for that matter.  Because IT doesn't see itself as needing anything from marketing, whereas marketing is fully cognizant that it needs IT's help, the burden of communication usually falls to the marketing department. 

Here are a few tips to help marketing better communicate with IT:

(Note: I was the head of two different IT departments in professional service firms before coming to HubSpot; many of these are based on my own personal experiences.)

  1. Not everyone likes being called "The IT Guy."  Specifically, women really seem to resent it, but most IT folks have real titles and worked really hard to get to their positions.  If the person is an IT Director with an MBA, you may want to call him/her by name or title, rather than "The IT Guy".  If the person is your webmaster, call him/her that instead.
  2. Donuts cover a multitude of sins.  IT is particularly amenable to bribes of food or beverage, since they often work through lunch.  Very few people thank the IT department or show appreciation for the long hours, late nights and high stress of the profession.  Bring in donuts, and you'll probably find yourself bumped up on that priority list.
  3. Give them time to get things done.  While it might seem to you that your request is simple and quick, IT may need longer to do it than you think.  Some departments have extensive procedures to follow before making a change. 
  4. Ask, don't order.  Even if they're required to help you, saying please and treating them as equals rather than minions will help build the relationship.
  5. Speaking of building the relationship, the #1 way to get IT to cooperate with you is to occasionally talk to IT when you don't need something.   Almost everyone comes to IT with hat in hand, but rarely does anyone ask how their weekend went.  If they like you as a human, they're more likely to listen to your needs rather than brush you off as "that needy marketing person".

All IT folks aren't made of sunshine and roses, and there may be some who won't cooperate with marketing regardless of how many donuts they receive.  However, these tips may help smooth over the relationship and make future projects a little easier to handle.

Photo by Ben Dalton



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Originally published Feb 15, 2010 11:30:00 AM, updated October 20 2016