Legal and IT preventing marketing objectives? I got chu

This week a founder told me they had received legal advice to avoid discussion about their solution until a patent was issued. Because the patent wouldn’t be issued for 6 months however, they’d be out of cash until they could execute any marketing plans. “What am I supposed to do?” she asked me.

In any company, a few major culprits can stand in the way of marketing goals: IT and legal. The reason you’re reading this is because you want to bypass those troublemakers. But would you be shocked to know the best way to work “around” them is to bring them in early to align on vision, mission and objectives? You may be surprised to know this will help you achieve your goals faster.

During my corporate era (shudder) I kept running into the IT brick wall. Marketing would work on a new project, or use new software, and IT would shut it down. Game over. For months it drove me crazy, until I figured out the problem. Our goals weren’t aligned.

IT’s goal was to protect the organization. Mine was to get attention for a new product with user-friendly web tools. Because IT viewed my project as threatening, it was a non-starter. So I changed strategies. I brought IT in at the very beginning.

It may seem odd, but it solved the problem. IT and marketing were able to align on a common goal. Instead of resisting me they actually helped marketing accomplish their goals. Do you see the problem?

IT, and in many cases legal, are often left out of strategic discussions. As a result, they are left to achieve a self-assigned goal.

As the marketing leader, or founder your job is to make sure all departments and leaders are aligned on the vision and mission. If you fail to do this, departments will operate in silos, creating their own objectives. Department heads want to accomplish their goals—sadly those goals may be adversarial.

Most people believe the goal of IT, legal, or HR departments is to secure the company or protect it from damage? But this isn’t true. The goal of those departments should be to advance company objectives. Period. If IT’s goal was really to protect the organization, that could be achieved by wrapping the building in a Faraday cage, cutting all hard lines, and welding doors shut. Similarly, legal could simply tell everyone, including marketing, to never speak.

In these cases IT and legal would achieve their goal. And, of course, the company would go out of business. But is that their fault? Of course not, it’s the founder or leader’s fault.

Getting around legal and IT is done by creating a solid vision and mission for the company, communicating it often. It’s also important to bring all internal stakeholders together early on projects that involve them to align and discuss what success looks like.

If the goal of a particular marcom project is to gain more customers through content strategy, IT can be a part of the strategy to secure the website and forms from threat actors, and legal are obligated to work with marketing to craft messages that are effective, but within compliance. In these cases, project failure reflects on IT and legal, not just marketing. And when everyone is held responsible for outcomes, projects tend to get done.

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Hi, I’m Justin Brady. I amplify inventive companies (and their people) to new audiences by identifying and utilizing their customer’s trust channels. I wrote for The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post and I hosted the founders of Starbucks, Hint and Ancestry.com on my podcast.
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