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Oct 22, 2007
Blog Post

SherpaBlog: Attention, Marketers - Hire Your Own IT Staffer for 2008

SUMMARY: No summary available.
By Anne Holland, Content Director

A single theme emerged from last week's MarketingSherpa B-to-B Summit in Boston -- marketing rather desperately needs their own dedicated IT personnel.

Few people actually said it out loud. But, having heard the biggest marketing challenge of 29 speakers and 233 delegates, I can tell you it nearly all boiled down to adequate IT support.

I am NOT knocking your IT department as it stands now.

IT are very intelligent. They work very hard and could probably use more budget and staff of their own just to get their main jobs done. We all support IT, because where would we be without them?

Marketing used to be more creatively focused -- strategizing a big campaign, approving graphic design, coming up with snappy headlines, selecting media buys. …

That's changed profoundly in the past decade, especially for lead generation and other direct response marketers.

Now, we manage campaigns across far more channels -- offline plus search, email, social media, etc. We are expected to measure each channel's performance with far more detailed data than ever before or risk losing our jobs. And, we are expected to nurture, educate and quantify prospects until they're on the cusp of conversion (a job that sales used to do).

All of that requires loads more technology: campaign management software, prospect database, CRM and SFA software, email service provider technology, blogging and podcasting tech, content management software, search marketing software, telemarketing management software, PURL systems … plus, of course, integration systems to tie it all together.

Who knew a marketing Summit could turn into a software convention?

The fact is, many marketers are more technology-managers than anything else. But they don't themselves have the time or ability to manage all these complex software systems. Nor should they. Marketing and IT tend to have very different brains.

Unfortunately at most companies, marketing has to "get in line" with every other department and wait their turn for IT help. Without a dedicated IT staffer to serve marketing needs first and foremost, the entire marketing department can quite easily become hamstrung. (For many reasons, this is often especially true in technology companies; which is a bit ironic.)

I started asking folks at the Summit how they handled the IT problem. Most shook their heads. One, however, told me he had heard of a company where an IT staffer had been permanently assigned to report to marketing.

Marketers gasped all around us. Really? Wow. It sounded an awful lot like Camelot.

When you think about it, it's not an impossible thing. If you can get your CTO on board by agreeing to pay for that salary out of marketing's budget and also giving IT final approval on major new tech decisions, why not hire your own IT staffer?

Of course, that way lays anarchy -- because if marketing gets their own IT person, then you know every other department will be demanding their own one next. (Shhh, don't tell anyone.)

By the way, if you would like to join the discussion, we'll be holding the exact same B-to-B Summit next week in San Francisco. I think there are 11 tickets left. (Sorry, after we, inevitably, sell out, tickets are not available at the door.)

I will be there, along with MarketingSherpa Research Director Stefan Tornquist, as well as leaders from our editorial team, including B-to-B Senior Reporter Sean Donahue and Editorial Director Tad Clarke.

Please introduce yourself and let us know what you'd like us to be researching and writing for you in 2008. Do you want more Case Studies on marketing … or perhaps advice on marketing-related technology? We're all ears.

See you in San Francisco!

Useful links related to this article

MarketingSherpa's Boston Summit Wrap-Up Report: B-to-B Marketers Reveal Strategies on How to Lift Lead Generation + New Data, Viral & Web 2.0:

See Also:

Comments about this Blog Entry

Oct 22, 2007 - Mike Volpe of HubSpot says:
I agree that there is a huge need in marketing to leverage the internet and the power of technology for capturing more traffic, leads and doing better lead nurturing. I have been marketing for a decade, and I have felt this pain. BUT, the solution is NOT to start your own IT group in the Marketing Department. What marketing really needs is a set of marketing tools that do not require IT. For too long, software vendors have been selling to marketing as well as IT. IT demands tools that they can manage and customize and host and install. They (IT) typically make things more complicated than they need to be, not on purpose, but because they do what they know which is managed environments and the ability to dig around in code and change things themselves. Today, with software as a service, it is possible for marketers to get the tools they need with the power and flexibility they want, without using their IT group. You can be up and running with a new marketing tools in days or hours, and you don't even need to tell IT! there is a whole new generation of toosl emerging that you can use and manage without IT (like solutions on the AppExchange and many other companines as well). Maybe for the biggest companies out there (Fortune 500) you still need to involve IT, but for the vast majority of companies (SMBs) you will get better results if you find Saas (software as a service) solutions that you can use without any IT requirements. These Saas companies can spread their IT resources and expertise over a large number of clients so you as the customer get more support, features and power than you ever would from any IT group.

Nov 02, 2007 - Luciano Cunha of To-Increase says:
I agree that IT is critical to marketing and the future of marketing in our organizations today. I agree with Mike Volpe's comment that the solution is not to open up a marketing IT department but disagree that the solution is to "use IT that doesn’t use IT". In my opinion what we need are better CIOs backed up by strong CEOs that recognize the need and importance of IT. The CEO needs to empower IT with enough budget and the CIO needs to have the overall business and the marketing understanding to be able to support Marketing to the level it needs to be supported. Even if a special team is created in IT to support marketing, the fact of leveraging the knowledge and leadership within IT is critical in my opinion. If IT is not cutting it today, why are we going to circumvent them and create our own IT now? On another hand, if they are supposed to manage the changes in Marketing needs with the same budget they had before they are left with no chance. But it is not by creating an engineering department, then a finance department, and a human resources department in Marketing that we are going to solve this problem. The point is, let us expect of competent CIOs, backed up by the CEO with resources, that they are able to address the individual needs of the organization specially the critical specialized needs that marketing has and will continue to have.

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