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Marketing IT In-House: Be Different

Being different in positive ways makes your BI team stand out from the crowd. Finding that difference can take thought, but it will help your career flourish.

Being different in good ways makes your BI team stand out from competitors and corporate noise -- assuming you make your business users aware of your distinguishing features. Discovering what makes you different can be a difficult process, one which I find most people prefer not to go through.

However, it should be one of the first steps you take toward surviving and flourishing in your enterprise and industry.

Decide What Makes You Different

You and your BI team have to put your heads together to pinpoint what makes you different -- or what could make you different.

Most people can't tell you what distinguishes them from everyone else. I was once asked to interview a dentist who needed marketing assistance. When I asked him how he differed from the other 100 dentists in his community, he was speechless.

Like many technologists, this kind man had never entertained the idea of being different. He just went along doing what he thought a dentist should do. He said the professional code of conduct prevented him from bragging, and that separating himself from his peers would be bragging.

It was a pitiful encounter. He had invested thousands of dollars in marketers and he still had no sense of what could position him as an attractive option among the many available to his community.

If you haven't yet identified what makes you different, don't rush through the brainstorming but begin it as soon as possible. Here are some things that could distinguish your BI team.

  • You coordinate contracts with BI vendors for your in-house customers.

  • You handle all in-house BI work but you hire outside help as needed.

  • You use a special software program (actually, I'm familiar with only one) that drastically shortens the time it normally takes to gather your business users' data and prepare it for manipulation and analysis.

  • You maintain testimonials that show the success you've delivered to different departments or executives.

  • Several members of your team have specialties that you've decided to utilize more fully.

  • You provide leadership for all BI initiatives but your team takes charge only of those that fall under the categories you are best matched with.

  • You share your users' visions and you offer your understanding of business and technology to support their efforts in any way you can.

  • You implement excellent project management skills. This alone would transform most BI teams' reputation.

  • You hire people with expertise in the key business areas of your enterprise.

These are just a few possibilities that could make a BI team stand out. The more distinctive characteristics you have, the better. You don't differentiate yourself with a fancy mission statement. You do it by being different.

Broadcast Your Specialty

Of course, once you have a better understanding of the new you, your team has to reorganize and follow through with actions that support your team identity. At the same time, you have to choose words that tell users you're different.

This is no time for humility. Your competitors aren't winning business by acting like they're nothing to brag about. Users aren't looking for someone who might possibly perhaps maybe be able to help them. They want experts.

You don't have to brag; you just have to let your in-house customers know who you are and the amazing things you're going to do. Don't make philosophical statements. Simply tell them what to expect from you from now on.

People will do the bragging for you when you do what you say, show up on time, and are at least above average. If you can't think of anything else to distinguish yourself, that three-part combination alone will make you stand out from the crowd.

About the Author

Max T. Russell invites your questions about marketing. As owner of Max and Max Communications, he improves messages for BI, nonprofits, lawyers and alternative medicine. He and his identical twin, Max S., are heavy technology users who have been discussing and dissecting the challenges of IT in the workplace for the past 20 years. You can contact the author at maxt@maxtrussell.com.


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