A long time ago, in an office far, far away, marketing and IT departments inhabited very different worlds. In one corner, you had the marketers – the swashbuckling, right-brained Don Draper’s and P.T. Barnum’s of the world. In the other corner, you had the IT wizards – the hermit-like, code-speaking masters of the server room. These stereotypes are just that – stereotypes, and increasingly outdated ones. The emergence of the digital age has thrust the marketer and the IT pro into a relationship of necessity – and harmony.
The digital age has, in many ways, democratized the market. Brands now have open access to potential customers. They can communicate and engage with audiences in a way not physically possible just 25 years ago. Techniques like inbound marketing – attracting customers to your brand via compelling content in blogs, videos, social media and other outlets – are proving to be incredibly effective in marketing and customer engagement. Social media is ubiquitous, and digital advertising continues to evolve to provide measurable results. The commonality across these marketing platforms? Technology.
In his pioneering 1964 work “Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man,” communication theorist Marshall McLuhan posited, “The medium is the message.” His 50-year old theory that a message and its medium are essentially a singularity has never proven truer than it does today. A message without a medium is only a thought. A medium without a message is a ghost ship.
In order to successfully market a brand in the digital age, marketing and IT departments must work in concert, combining medium with message to create effective communications that nurture brands. This doesn’t mean just checking in with each other every once in awhile to make sure all systems are operational. Successful marketing-IT partnerships should resemble a circular loop, with communal brainstorming, continuous monitoring and feedback, and timely course corrections.
Think of the marketing – IT relationship like Maverick and Goose from the movie Top Gun. Maverick (the marketer) is the pilot, flying on his creative instincts, making gutsy (but not always smart) moves, trying to out-do the other guy. Goose (the IT pro) is the navigator. He ensures the engines and instruments are working properly. He monitors the jet’s position and makes sure that Maverick doesn’t crash into a mountain. Maverick is the artist, Goose the engineer. Without one and other, they’d both be helpless. But together? That’s when magic happens.
So get creative with your brand and make your mark. But don’t forget your navigator. Your brand will end up crashed into a mountain without him.