Anne Holland

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

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:

http://www.marketingsherpa.com/article.php?ident=30171

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