Which Scare You More: The Bridges You Drive On or Those Between Your Marketing Strategy and Your Technology?

By Andrew J. Birol, President, Birol Growth Consulting, Inc.

Unanticipated demand, aging infrastructure, competing jurisdictions, and inadequate funding! These descriptions best describe our country’s highway bridges. But for those of us who live to travel, we roll our eyes at infuriated amateurs who blame highway workers for delayed trips. Yet how many of us blame the symptoms rather than root causes of business technology problems. After thirty years of watching marketing dreams meet technical reality, here are some observations of why it is so hard to translate marketing programs through technology.

Today’s typical scenario

  • A goal-driven entrepreneur or marketing manager defines a program they wish to implement using technology Next a project manager is assigned to translate these needs into a project work plan and
  • Finally, a programmer is assigned to write the code and connect it to the needed databases and communication/delivery systems to bring the project to fruition.

If it’s so simple, why doesn’t this work? Here’s why.

  • The entrepreneur/marketing manager has been promised that in this day and age anything is possible and all they have to do is ask.
  • The project manager, especially if he/she is billing the client for their time, eagerly attacks a complicated project arriving at an enormous work plan and budget accommodating every need and want they heard.
  • The programmer, formerly a $100 an hour domestic worker, and now often a $20 an hour third world programmer, is presented with a giant work plan hopefully leveraging his or her ability to generate accurate code at break neck speed.

Inherent in this virtual relay race are missed handoffs.

  • The marketer assumes the project manager understands his or her business.
  • The project manager quickly realizes the marketer doesn’t understand or care about the complexity of what they are requesting or the sophistication of the technology that it will take.
  • Similarly, the project manager faces translation challenges on the coding level with a volume-driven technician who increasingly has to overcome a language and cultural barrier.

Isn’t it a miracle that programs are ever completed satisfactorily or to return to our highway bridge metaphor, most don’t collapse?

Looking forward

After decades of watching capabilities increase, costs drop and expectations soar, successful marketing through technology is as tough as ever. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned the hard way.

  1. Entrepreneurs and marketers need to understand when and why their requests are easy, hard, time-consuming and unreasonable.
  2. Project managers need to understand how and why the marketing manager and his/her program is successful.
  3. The programmer needs to understand what the project really has to accomplish.


In Summary

There is more pressure than ever on all parties to communicate, understand and translate what they are trying to do into what someone else is depending on being done. Like “smart” bridges that absorb, convert and transfer weight, seismic shifts and weather, successful entrepreneurs, marketers, project managers and programmers have to be as good as handling similar “shocks” as they are at doing their specific jobs.

Articles by Birol Growth Consulting are © copyrighted and all rights are reserved. However, articles may be reprinted with prior written consent if attribution is included as follows:

© Copyrighted by Andrew J. Birol, President of Birol Growth Consulting, who helps owners grow their businesses by growing their Best and Highest Use ®. Andy can be reached at (412) 973-2080, by email at abirol@andybirol.com, or on the web at www.andybirol.com.

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