Getting IT Invested in Your Cause

Andy Adams

Andy Adams

Earlier this year we introduced you to Imtiaz Haiyoom, an “IT guy” for CitySquare who encouraged nonprofit marketing staff to bring their IT staff into the decision making process. Today, we have another IT guy who shares how he grew to even like marketing. Crazy!  ~Kivi

Guest Post by Andy Adams of Whistling Duck 

It was the first day of my first job as a young programmer. I was given a tour of the snack room before I was directed to my desk. I sat down in my ergonomic chair and gazed past my monitor upon a gargantuan wall with a single tiny door on the far right side.

“What lies beyond yonder wall?” I sheepishly asked the elder engineers. “Marketers,” they replied coldly. “Do they ever come to our side?,” I inquired. “Only when they want us to toil upon their terrible A/B testing or SEO tomfoolery.” And so the great divide between IT and marketers was erected.

Ok, ok…a bit of that story is exaggerated. But in many organizations, IT and marketing can be in two different worlds.

I started as a pure programmer, but as my career continued I took jobs that forced me – begrudgingly – to dip my toes deeper and deeper into marketing waters, until one day I actually started…gulp…liking marketing.

I’d love to share with you a few things that my employers did that got me invested in marketing my organization’s cause.

1. Allow IT to choose the technology

Most techy people love to try new tools. Every day a new programming language, framework or software system is born. Many geeks would rather try a new programming language than get a new car. Seriously.

When you have a new project, allow the IT staffers to choose the technology to build it. Also, give them a budget to sign up for the latest software to help with their job.

“I can build the website in Ember.js?”  I just got 1000% more interested.

2. Show them the numbers

If there was a single event that began my transformation from marketing-hating-engineering-guy to hey-this-marketing-thing-is-kinda-cool-dude, it was when I saw the numbers. One day, I was given access to the company Google Analytics account; I had to physically restrain myself from looking at the stats for the whole day.

Conversion rates, open rates, and other metrics often aren’t openly shared with the IT staff. If you aren’t already, start sharing metrics. There is something about the cause and effect of “I moved the donate button; now 5% more people are donating” that can make an engineering mind fall madly in love with marketing. Just don’t call it marketing…

3. Have them blog about the cause

Another powerful tool to get your IT crew more involved is giving them a public voice. At most of my jobs, writing content was Marketers Only™. But one employer handed me the keys to the blog, and magic happened.

I shared my technical experiences with the organization. I shared my opinions on working. And all of a sudden I cared about the cause. Writing forced me to reflect on the bigger picture.

If you need help thinking up proposals for your IT staff to write about, here’s a couple to start:

  • “I’d love if you wrote about how you implemented that email newsletter tracking.”
  • “Could you write about how you decided on X software/hardware?”

Any other geeks out there?

The points in this article motivated me to get more involved in marketing – but they may not apply to every IT person out there. If you’re an IT geek (or have worked with one of us) and have any experiences that brought you into the “marketing fold,” I’d love to hear it!

Andy Adams is a web consultant and entrepreneur. He runs Whistling Duck nonprofit software, and spends his free time pushing a double stroller around Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. You can reach Andy on Twitter: @WhistlingDuckNP



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