IT Speaks: Building Technology Solutions that Marketers Love

Note: This article originally appeared on the Marketo Marketing Blog.

Back when I was in IT, my biggest fear was implementing a solution that no one liked -or worse, that they didn't end up using. Being at a startup tech company, my IT budget was minuscule. This meant that aligning with other "well-funded" departments in my company, such as the marketing team, was always a challenge.

If I'd had an unlimited budget, I would have always implemented complete turnkey solutions (for those not in IT, these are "off the shelf," ready-to-go solutions), with 1,000 professional services hours and 24/7 live support. I wouldn't have worried about learning the solution or onboarding my users. Crazy, I know... but everybody has to dream. But the reality is, I had very little budget or support to work with, and I had to choose solutions very carefully to avoid the risk of producing "shelfware." Who wants to implement technology that never gets used?

So after years of being forged in the fire of small budgets and high risks, my hardened IT team came up with several guidelines for finding technology solutions that marketers love. If you like what you've read so far, you can find more details (and a way cooler-looking presentation in our 27-slide guide, IT Best Practices: Finding the Right Marketing Solution.

Step 1: Fact Finding - What's your marketing team looking for?

The first step is to simply communicate and ask questions. Find out what objectives your marketing team is trying to accomplish with the new technology, and find out what their pain points are. Understanding marketing use cases helps you map their needs to feature and functionality requirements. This can also help you scope out potential IT costs and the impact to your existing infrastructure. Some common marketing objectives include: planning and budgeting, lead generation, building customer relationships, increasing sales conversions, and measuring and optimizing programs.

Step 2: The Right Tools - Does the technology solve marketing pain points and objectives?

The next step is assessing your needs and requirements. Put on your Sherlock hat and start searching for potential marketing solutions. Don't be afraid to question the vendors and ask the difficult technical questions, such as:

  • How does the solution integrate into my existing infrastructure?
  • Does the level of and compliance align with our company policies?
  • How does scalability affect reliability and performance?

Once you have your list of preferred vendors, it's RFI/RFP time! That means it's time for vendors to provide information and bid on how much it will cost. Map the marketing objectives you collected during Step 1 to each vendor's product offerings. The more marketing needs that are met, the more likely marketing is to adopt and stick with the solution. This is the key to preventing shelfware. Now that you've narrowed it down to the right solution, it's just a matter of aligning (or negotiating) costs and budgeting with marketing.

Step 3: Implementation - Ensuring a successful launch and adoption

The key to a successful implementation is to make sure both IT and marketing are fully prepared from concept to launch. The solution should fully support both marketing and IT through all five stages of a winning deployment:

Implementation stages for marketing: 1) best practices, 2) admin and user 3) dedicated account managers, 4) customer support, and 5) marketing community; and

Implementation stages for IT: 1) system provisioning, 2) integrating, 3) dedicated tech consultants, 4) tech support, and 5) ongoing monitoring.

Going through these stages simultaneously across both departments ensures alignment during launch. This also sets up the foundation for higher usage and adoption in the long run, which means positive ROI and less budget strain for IT - and marketing getting a solution they want and will use.

Johnny Cheng is the Platform Product Marketing Manager at Marketo, a marketing automation software provider. For more information, call 650-376-2300, or send an email.

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