1) Do Not Fear the Engineer
We all live in a technology dependent world. There’s no escaping it. Every single business vertical is being disrupted by bold start ups. Legacy marketers are re-inventing their brand communications. Technology is at the center of all of it. You can’t service any modern brand without talented software engineers. Yet non-engineering types like myself are often intimidated or overwhelmed by the foreign processes and working styles of web and app developers. Don’t hate; appreciate! Dive in. Learn. Ask questions. Creating world-class user experiences takes a village. Freely offer up your unsolicited advice. Argue. Collaborate. After all, they need you as much as you need them. Have you ever asked an engineer to write a headline, produce a video or design a landing page? No. Because chances are they don’t do any of that well. They know their engineering needs to integrate successfully with all of the other elements that lead to a positive, engaging user experience. A lot of them are introverts. Force the conversation. They’ll appreciate it.
2) Address ‘Technical Debt’ First
“In this world, you get what you pay for” Kurt Vonnegut
As we see software touching nearly every function of marketing communications we need to be more aware of how to address the inevitable ‘technical debt’ that comes with building web portals and mobile applications. Wikipedia describes Technical debt “as a metaphor that refers to work that needs to be done before software can be considered complete. If the debt is not repaid, it will exponentially increase problems going forward. Unaddressed technical debt increases software entropy.” Software creation never ends. Don’t ignore the problems in code. Don’t build upon faulty app infrastructures. Get in there and fix the foundational issues successfully, then worry about building new features. If you don’t address the technical debt, the foundation will crumble.
3) Insist on Radical Collaboration
Although we may not want to admit it, too many companies are still siloed into ‘departments’. Like it or not, many of our colleagues and vendors are only interested in what they are contributing, and too often fail to see the full complexity involved in providing consumers with world class user experience across all media touchpoints. It’s up to you to drive radical collaboration. Insist on consistent collaboration between all groups from the outset. You don’t need endless meetings. You need one meeting a week either virtual or physical, supported by intense on-going online communication. Hold people accountable for being good collaborators, and gleefully lead the process. You’ll get the results you desire much more quickly.
4) Partner with a creative agency with strong engineering credentials
The modern brand marketer has an ever-burgeoning portfolio of responsibilities. To have a realistic chance at success, they need rock solid engineering, compelling content, and attention grabbing design. These are too often disparate skill sets for agencies. Ever increasingly, marketing executives are building relationships with more fully integrated creative agency partners who are able to tackle multiple consumer touchpoints simultaneously. The modern marketer simply has too many responsibilities to manage multiple agency partners successfully.