I can remember a time when a well-designed, strategically positioned direct-mail piece was one of only a few options used to connect brands with consumers. Over the last five years an explosion of truly smart channels have opened up, ushering in a whole new set of social tactics for use by strategic communicators. When these tactics are integrated, as you well know, creatives and marketers are allowed to deliver broader, richer campaigns that are far more impactful, penetrate faster and resonate deeper with target audiences.
For a designer like myself, I literally get goose bumps just thinking about the expanded arsenal of tools that are available to solve creative problems. The possibilities of ways to communicate our brand messages seem limitless and marketing budgets are increasing significantly to better leverage these new media channels. But the Notorious B.I.G. wasn’t lying when he penned “the more money we come across, the more problems we see” in the rap “Mo Money Mo Problems.” This rings true when IT is not consulted at just the right time in developing an integrated campaign that includes digital components.
We’ve all unknowingly made a few expensive mistakes in our dealings with IT and the deployment of our digital campaigns. I’ll admit it, I’ve been included in this group in the past. The following steps have helped me work smarter with the good folks in IT:
Engage IT Early and Often
One of the biggest mistakes in working with IT is not engaging them early and often enough in the development process of an assignment. If you truly want to create a digital tactic that potentially could revolutionize the way your brand is received and perceived, bring IT into the first development meeting and hold a place for them in each subsequent meeting that follows.
IT can provide a unique perspective that folks working in the marketing and creative departments may not consider. Their functional insights may at first seem like they are either holding back the progression of the assignment or derailing it altogether. In actuality, their suggestions or “pushback” may be the little caveat that redirects you to a path that gets you where you want to go sooner and with greater results.
Speak their Language
In my experiences with folks who work in IT, I’ve learned that most of them are less interested in the outward facing beauty of a digital project. What they get most excited about is the framework that lies beneath the beauty. They enjoy examining and dissecting the bone structure of an assignment. I have found that after I took several years of front and back-end web development courses, I was able to communicate my creative ideas in a way that they understood much better. As a result, a greater level of respect was built on both sides of the fence. In the end, I was able to get exactly what I needed and our collaborations were much more fruitful and pushed our brand forward.
Debrief and Celebrate
Take everyone that participated on the development and deployment of the assignment to lunch and celebrate. Ask each contributor what worked and didn’t work during the development and deployment process. This is a great opportunity to hear how IT believes the process could be improved. Finally, thank them for their contribution. Too often the relationships we have with IT is adversarial for no reason. View IT as valuable members of the project team, one who has not only ownership but a voice in how the brand’s digital tactics are developed and deployed.
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