There is no shortage of great products and ideas in the marketplace.
Personally, I was a fanboi of the Amiga Computer, the Palm Pilot and the Sony Betamax video recorder. I would look down my nose at those poor souls using an iPod while I listened to music on my vastly superior iRiver MP3 player powered by Real Audio software.
So where are those products & companies today? Some still exist, but they are definitely not the market leaders.
It’s not enough to have a great product or innovation; you have to be able to demonstrate to the marketplace that yours is the best.
There is an old saying, attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door”.
I interpret it to mean that, if you have a great product or service, people will find out about it, and in turn, find you. Well, my experience in ITSM has taught me otherwise.
During my career, I’ve learned that great ideas don’t sell themselves.
If it were up to me, I would augment Emerson’s quote to say… “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door – provided there is a great big sign pointing the way!”
Marketing, in essence, is that sign. It is a way of communicating the value proposition of goods or services in terms that the consumer understands.
Marketing has received a bad rap over the years. There is a perception that its underlying motive is to manipulate or coerce someone into buying a product. I don’t buy into that – I believe that marketing that relies on half-truths or gimmicks will ultimately fail.
I say, “Marketing is about communicating the value proposition of your idea, product or service in terms that your target audience understands”. I also believe that “When you combine great products with powerful marketing, the sky is the limit”.
How does all this apply to ITSM?
The fact that you are reading this post means you are probably a believer in ITSM. Like me, you have seen the value of reducing the number of incidents, mitigating the risk of changes and improving IT Service Delivery.
If you are like me, you have probably even asked yourself – “why doesn’t anyone else get it? – it’s downright obvious!”
Believing in ITSM is very subjective. People look at it through the lens of their own experiences. Failed projects, bad ITSM tool implementations, or overly bureaucratic processes will shape the way people perceive your ITSM program.
Once again, you need to communicate the value in terms everyone understands, from the CIO to the front line service desk agent. Guess what? The message needs to be tailored for each of them.
Don’t tell the CIO that the #1 reason for ITSM is the CMDB with all its Configuration Items, Attributes, and Relationships. While important, it’s not the message the CIO wants to hear. He or she wants to know how it will improve service delivery and reduce cost – don’t assume that they will hear that in your message … you have to tailor the message to them.
Marketing your ITSM program goes well beyond a nifty slogan or a write-up in the corporate newsletter.
You need to spend the time understanding your stakeholders, who are your friends, who are your foes, and who are your potential champions. Then you have to craft concise and powerful messages that communicate the value proposition to each of these groups.
Not only do you need to communicate, but also you need to communicate often. Don’t assume they read that email you sent. Spread your message through multiple formats including; meetings, workshops, lunch and learns, articles, video posts – anything to get the message out.
Encourage feedback and respond to questions. Remember you are trying to win an audience, not alienate them.
Above all, do not oversell the value proposition. Set the right expectations, and most importantly, always deliver what you say you will.
I plan to write more about Marketing ITSM in upcoming posts, but in the meantime, I want to conclude this article with five of the reasons why I believe it’s important.
So, what are the 5 reasons for marketing your ITSM program?
- Fighting Vendor FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) – Vendors, since the dawn of time, have been saying that their tool, “out of the box”, is all you need to implement ITSM. You don’t need to waste time on processes or requirements. They want you to move quickly and implement fast. Why? Because they are paid on commission and are measured quarterly. Problem is that they have big marketing budgets and the ear of management. You need a strong argument to combat the FUD.
- Gaining Management Buy-in – Management’s role is to make the best use of the limited resources of the firm. Everyone is battling for his or her attention and for the budget that comes with it. You need to stand out amongst your peers.
- Fighting the Naysayers – There are always naysayers to every project or program. If you are lucky, you know who they are. Unfortunately, they are often hidden, working in the background to derail your program. An effective marketing program is essential to combating these folks.
- Communicating Success – Once of the surest ways to get support for your program is to deliver something of value and then make sure everyone knows about it. Your ITSM marketing program is your vehicle for communicating success.
- It’s How We Are Wired – Marketing is pervasive in our society. We have been raised on a steady stream of commercials and marketing messages. Marketing works because of the science behind it. Make that science work for you!
The world is full of great ideas, and ITSM is definitely one of them. Don’t assume that everyone “just gets it”. A successful ITSM program requires a strong marketing component to ensure its success.
I loved my Palm Pilot, Amiga computer, and Beta recorder – but I now pretty much do it all on my iPad. Don’t let your ITSM program become a technological footnote.