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Marketing IT's value

Lou Markstrom | June 24, 2014
How to establish your importance across the enterprise


Do your clients truly understand what you do? Does the business recognise the value that IT provides or does it simply view you as mere code changers, network fixers, and PC installers?

Now is the time to change the perception of IT. It's up to IT to correct this perception as it is critical for technology groups to continue moving toward a more strategic organisational role. The way we do this is to build our skill in marketing ourselves.

Marketing is not often thought of as a function of IT and you may even be thinking, "I'm in IT not marketing."

So let's start by getting rid of those preconceived notions of what marketing is: when I say marketing I don't mean being a used car salesman.

Marketing is not about hype or empty promises, it is about creating an awareness of IT's value. It's about creating a true and accurate perception of IT with a clear and consistent message.

I was recently with a senior IT executive of a major aviation company and in discussing IT's value he said, "We recently completed 2 projects, one that saved the company $50 million on the bottom line and another that saved $15 million, but all I ever hear about is 'why did the network go down?'"

If this sounds all too familiar to you, it's time to put on your marketing hat, but if that term is still too strong for you, feel free to call it your 'communicating IT values' hat.

When marketing IT's value, essential factors to keep in mind are:

Talk about outcomes, not features.
One of the most common errors that I see day to day in working with IT departments in organisations of all sizes is that as a community, when we communicate about technology, we talk about features.

The business, however, is not interested in features and in many cases doesn't even understand what the features are or even do. We must first understand the distinction between 3 different elements in marketing communication: features/attributes, benefits, and outcomes.

The best way to illustrate this is with an analogy. Imagine you went into a hardware store to purchase a hand drill. The drill itself, what it is made of, what speeds it runs at, whether it can drill through wood, metal or concrete, etc., are all examples of features.

Very few people buy a drill simply because they want to own a drill. Of course there are exceptions to this rule. Tim "the tool man" Taylor from the TV series Home Improvement, is an exception.

Next, if we look at the benefits of having a drill, we look at what do drills make? They make holes and that is the benefit of owning a drill but people don't buy a drill simply because they want holes.


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