commit: 6b2ca8a - #414 (2014-03-05 12:54:44 -0500)
I was a fan of the original "Every Marketer Should Be Technical" because I like the spirit of it. I didn't originally read it as "you must be technical at your core" as much as "have a little technical skill to supplement your big creativity" as the one-two marketing punch. I know this because, having a soft-skills marketing background, there have been many times that technical skills would've come in handy.
That said, the criticism written in "Every Marketer Does Not Need to Be Technical" put the article in a different light for me. Bill's post suggested that the technical side was elevated almost to the suggestion that technical skill, not necessarily creativity, is required to be a "good" marketer. It reminds me of the "Fake Geek" posts/memes that were going around last year (http://onforb.es/TxwVcU), only this one says "You can't call yourself a marketer unless you can [insert technical skill here]."
Being familiar with the author (he was my boss at one point), I know that statement does not reflect him. He values creativity just as much as technical skill. This conversation seems to be more about the broad-brush title, which is symptomatic of popular blog tactics (to write bold and sometimes extreme titles) instead of the author's possible intent. I, too, would like to see a more fair and balanced title like "Every Marketer Would Benefit From Being Technical" - but maybe we should all make more of an effort to move away from the "extreme blog post" culture that's popular these days.
Hi Lauren, I love your comment. I hope I didn't grossly misrepresent the intent of the author. I do know it is the opinion of some others in our industry, so David and I thought it might be a good counterpoint for people to consider.
No worries, Bill. I thought it was a really great article and was really happy to have some people speaking out for us less-than-technical marketing peeps. (Truth be told, it was really nice to read an article that made me feel a bit validated more than "OHMYGOD I have so much to learn *sad face* *starts beating herself up*".) No, really. It was refreshing. It's seems it's way more sexy to talk about technical skills these days - and that leaves us less-than-technical marketers feeling a little left out in the cold.
On the flipside, I'm always happy to add more skills to my tool belt and def think technical can help. But I like your approach to celebrating all marketing backgrounds and their contributions, technical or not. (As a side note: I get the feeling more people call themselves creative than those who consider themselves technical. Perhaps it's because creative is so much more subjective? Technical skills are something you can point to - "Look, I know Ruby. See this code here?" As opposed to, "Yeah, I'm creative. I came up with these ideas.. . . " I can't help but feel that's a contributing factor to this debate.)
Although... you see technically-minded people forced to be creative (i.e. creative code), and you see creative people who need to be technical (i.e. visual artists needing to apply a definition/rules to their style). I think I'm opening up a whole 'nother discussion here by saying perhaps we're only scratching the surface in our definitions of "creative" and "technical" throughout this ongoing conversation.
Holy crap. I can't write a comment here without feeling like I want to keep fleshing this out. Guess I should write a blog post on my opinion. :P
Great post, Bill. By large, I agree with Lauren as I'm also a marketer developing some level of technical skills but very much have to rely on my soft skills as I continue to develop.
I have to wonder also if a contributing piece of the argument is the difference in the definition and expectation of "marketing" from an agency versus a company (at whatever stage, but particularly startup vs. mid to large). Many seem to agree that a startup needs more of a technical marketer, one who can think of an idea for a campaign and then go implement it versus a larger company which may have dedicated resources for each step along the way. Having never worked for an agency myself I cannot comment on the differences - but in my experience at relatively small software companies and a startup, it seems technical marketing skills are much more in demand.
Knowing the technical side of marketing may help in some form but your marketing strength does not depend upon it.