Should modern marketer be able to program

The truth is that most marketers specialize in solving problems like „Does this color fit with the overall scheme?” This approach is good and very bad at the same time It’s good, because a „gut feeling” is essential in marketing. 

Any good marketer should have a sense of what works and what does not, without relying on data to justify decisions. Sometimes you have to rely 100% on experience, intuition and self-assessment.

Too bad, because anyone can be a marketer

As with medicine, sports and politics, everybody knows marketing. Why? Because everyone has opinions. Everyone has their own, inviolable, „beloved and only” opinion. The opinion is a very interesting property – it is subjective, regardless of who says it.

Especially in the world of billboards and surveys, the Average Joe’s opinion can be just as important as the opinion of the Honorable Mr. Creative Director from a very respected Network Agency that won awards in Cannes several years running. They both weigh answers, they look and their opinions have exactly the same value. Until …

Until we attach a CV from someone whose opinion is on the sheet. Then unusual things happen. Suddenly, the creative mind starts to count. Could there suddenly appear a mysterious pattern, which suddenly explains why someone is right and someone is wrong? No. None of these things. It’s still a subjective opinion. So what changed?

Social sense changed. However, we should answer a quick question – does social feeling have the mysterious power of distinguishing truth from falsehood? Of course not. The feeling is just a collective opinion, and opinion (as we know) is subjective. Anyone can be wrong – we have a lot of examples throughout human history. 

The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys.

– Sir William Preece, chief engineer of the British Post Office, 1876.

Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?

– HM Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.

We do not like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.

– Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.

Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.

– Marshal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre.

There will never be a bigger plane built.

– A Boeing engineer, after the first flight of the 247, a twin-engine passenger project.

Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.

– Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872.

It’s not even necessary to reach that far into the past – just look at this statement:

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That’s why the market is full of marketers and ad agency people, and why it’s not so easy to distinguish the good from the bad, or the one who is wrong less often than the other.

Easy verification of competence

This means one thing – the competition in the labor market and orders for people who have an opinion supported by experience and evidence – is huge. Everyone is good, everyone knows, everyone has opinions, everyone survived something, he did, and he can. Instead of competence, chemisty, opinions, and relationships begin to count. Many marketers and socially gifted people working in the advertising industry made these few steps in their careers. 

In such a trip, the only skill that is easily verifiable is the ability to use technology in marketing. You can either do this or not. You either understand or not. You know how to talk to more and more niche technology providers or not, because if not, you have no idea what is possible, what is an empty promise, and whether or not you can get more from a seller.

It is 100% verifiable, true – there is no opinion, no „it seems to me,” „I am convinced”, „in my opinion” etc. It is knowledge or it is not. 

If you can’t, you wind up in a big bag of people who have an opinion (and sometimes proven experience). Conversely, you can wind up in the (still small) set of people who can. Ideally, such a person is communicative, with an opinion supported by experience and successes. Then this set is even smaller. That is why it is worth it for a marketer to be able to program.

But is it a must to be able to program? If not, then you are not able to verify some idiotic solutions that are proposed and supported „because I always did and it was good.” Experience in programming is also important for the reason that it teaches algorithmic thinking. Just look at marketing automation – all of these systems require technical knowledge and programming skills to fully understand their options and take full advantage of them. 

But even 5 years ago…

I often hear about someone working in marketing for 10, 15, or 20 years and somehow, without any programming knowledge, he or she attained high positions and awards. 

I always congratulate them and keep my fingers crossed for further success but one thing is certain – in the last 5 years marketing technology has changed more than in the previous 50. Simply put, now the business expects a bit more from you.