Marketing IT: Sell your services internally, win more respect

It's not about hype. It's about conveying IT's value.

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Find opportunities in written communications

With the help of the marketing specialist, Bonig tried to turn any communications emanating from IT into marketing tools. One of the most prominent is the department's annual report, which not only reports on IT's accomplishments, but relates those successes to IT's strategic plan and the university's goals as well. The report also lists resources saved, awards won and conferences at which staff members have spoken. It's distributed on a USB flash drive, tucked inside what looks like a formal invitation to read about IT's progress and plans.

The marketing specialist ensures that all communication is jargon-free and, where appropriate, incorporates a subtle marketing spin. For instance, a message reporting a weekend system outage due to maintenance might include a reminder of how long it's been since the last outage. Or a virus warning might note that the university's infection rate is low compared with those of other universities.

"We're always selling our story," Bonig says. "From that, people get the idea you're competent, effective and driving hard to support the goals of the organization. If you lose that, you're pretty well screwed, because then you lose your budget, people and respect."

Create customer 'touch points'

Berry has established multiple layers of what he calls "touch points," or opportunities to communicate with business users. One is his annual customer satisfaction survey. While his recent survey revealed an 85% satisfaction rate (above his target of 83%), it also showed only 70% satisfaction with the ability to obtain needed information. That, Berry says, gave him an opportunity to improve service.

Other touch points include an intranet-based electronic brochure, which features video coverage explaining the goals and critical decision stages of IT initiatives, such as a mainframe software consolidation project. Additionally, Berry is researching whether the help desk could use Twitter to send alerts about service outages, and PC technicians now solicit direct feedback by giving users survey cards after servicing their computers.

Develop client profiles

Everyone wants to feel understood, which is why sophisticated marketing efforts strive to apply a personal touch. At Bayer, personalization is achieved by creating profiles of the most important clients Craig's group works with. The profiles include information on whom the clients report to, and their level of authority, special interests and hot buttons, such as a desire to be a technology leader, keep costs down or not waste time.

Before a client meeting, the group can review the profile to see what matters most to the client, which topics to avoid and whether to keep the meeting short. "If they're always worried about managing time, we don't want to keep them talking about golf for hours," Craig says.

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