15 minutes and a whiteboard

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The whiteboard I used for my Digital Download presentation last month.

What do you do when the people you work with don’t understand your job or what you do? I’m guessing a lot of us can relate to that in some form or fashion. This has been a question that my team has been trying to figure out it while working with other parts of the marketing department at my office. We’ve found that there is inconsistent knowledge with our colleagues on various things digital. Search Engine Optimization. How web pages are created. Knowing what user experience is as a discipline. Having a basic understanding of the social media landscape in 2017. These are just a few examples, but the short version is that some peers didn’t understand what we work on or how things get done in our area. (I have this same issue but on the opposite side when it comes to certain other departments at Allianz;  I am no expert when it comes to the inner working of the hedging or actuarial groups.)

Unsurprisingly, this has made it tough at times for us to have conversations or collaborate when peers don’t understand core parts of marketing technology, our processes, the different media channels, how we evaluate and use metrics, etc. Like any kind of relationship, ideally you should strive to know or understand where other side is coming from or how they operate.

Our team talked about this a lot earlier in the year. How could we help co-workers get up to speed and learn while doing so in an approachable way? A bunch of ideas popped up: we could do a lunch and learn series on various topics, we could create an internal email newsletter series, or we could created a canned “what you should know about digital” presentation and do a roadshow while presenting it to other teams. But all those ideas seemed labor intensive. They seemed like a push not like a pull. And they seemed too formal.

In the end, we took inspiration from the Whiteboard Friday series that Moz produces. Once a month, we invite people to come into our area of the floor, we provide doughnuts because of course you provide doughnuts, and we aim to simply illustrate and talk through a topic or concept on the communal whiteboard. This is all done in a 15 minute timeframe. We call it the Digital Download.

I think we’ve done six or seven of them so far and are quite pleased with the results. We’re getting 40-50 people to show up each time with each session being presented by a different individual from the digital department. This has meant a few things. We’ve covered a variety of topics – A WIN. It showcases different individuals from the digital team each month so the rest of the marketing group walks away with a understanding of who is on the team and what he or she does – A WIN. This exposure is a chance for the various presenters to practice their speaking skills – A WIN.  September marked my month to present and I focused on data and trends that are happening in the market place and how that impacts all of us as consumers and marketers. (Hence the whiteboard image above.)

I love the simplicity of the idea and how it helps tackle an internal business challenge in a casual yet effective way. (Kudos go to Kary, Ben and Erika from my team for coming up with the idea and managing it all throughout the year.) For someone that can be too analytical at times, this has been a good reminder that sometimes simple, straightforward solutions are all you need.

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