When you’re looking for a job, everyone will tell you “You have to brand yourself” or “Make sure to adjust your resume to meet each specific job description before you submit it”. It’s the same for getting company-wide buy-in for your brand new or long-running IT program or initiative. What you’re trying to do in this case is help the initiative earn the appreciation of the rest of the organization. This means demonstrating why it’s valuable to them (or the company). To make that easier (although nothing about this is easy …), you have to market the program—give it a brand—in a way that is mutually beneficial to both you and your audience.
As a marketing professional, I have witnessed the power that content has on branding and identity. I can tell you that there’s a difference between making headlines and going viral. Headlines have an expiration date to how long they are relevant. Going viral is the level above. Some quick Googling will tell you that the most important characteristics of a viral piece of content are: relevance, share-ability, and the capability to evoke an emotional reaction (no, not crying … think more like positively impactful on your co-worker’s workload). Your program needs to satiate their hunger—make them say, “Where has this been all my life?”
3 useful tips to help your program gain momentum:
So, first thing’s first: give your program a name. Identify two or three benefits your program will bring if they get on board with it (you’ll have a longer lunch break because you’re centralizing document management, you’ll have more time to work on that proposal to enhance the website in a way that more-accurately captures customer activity, etc.). Make sure you demonstrate the program’s impact on business outcomes. Focus on the projects you support that have the most visible influence. Shop it around the department and get feedback. Use terms that are understood by the business (using their language is critical). Lastly, make sure your method of promoting the program speaks to the mixture of people who have the potential to become connected to the content.
Once equipped with a solid framework, it’s time for rubber to meet the road. Get ready to encounter resistance to change. Have your counter arguments prepared in advance. Make sure you have an answer to the questions, “Why is it different this time? What have you done for me lately? How will the business be better tomorrow?”…
Next, it’s time to address upper management. The inevitable: “Will this make us any more money?” Gartner analyst Brian Burke provided advice about getting buy-in from the top when he wrote, “The situation is about enhancing, extending, or differentiating existing business capabilities related to products, services, or markets.”*
In other words, are you embarking on a Digital Transformation project? Supporting innovative new business initiatives? Or are you trying to optimize your IT Strategy Delivery to reduce costs and gain more agility?
Once the project is launched, set a reminder to evaluate your status in one month, six months, and twelve months. Each time, make small adjustments to how you’re branding the program or the frequency at which you’re communicating each level of achievement on your way to influencing business outcomes.
Some experts argue that virality means that there is a sharp increase in sharing and excitement, followed by a sudden downward spiral of engagement. I tend to agree in some cases, but in the case of making your program stick, you can avoid this downward spiral by making sure you’re paying attention to and communicating about moves that support longevity and ongoing impact to the bottom line.
*Brian Burke. “To the Point: Measuring the Value of EA and its Impact on Business Outcomes”. Gartner EA Summit. May 22, 2013.