A weekly Google Hangout dedicated to discussing content marketing, search marketing, SEO and more.
Topic: Technology and Marketing: The past, present, and future challenges we’re facing.
In this episode, we talk about the difference between being able to use the tools available and the deeper understanding of how the technology that makes them tick works. Besides the skills and knowledge required now, we discuss where we see trends going in the future and some predictions about how tools and people will evolve to meet the challenges.
Ray Grieselhuber, Founder & CEO at GinzaMetrics
Erin O’Brien, COO at GinzaMetrics
Karen Scates, Marketing & PR Manager at GinzaMetrics
FULL VIDEO TRANSCRIPT
Karen: Hi, everyone. Welcome to FOUND Friday, our weekly hangout where we talk about topic of interests for marketing and SEO. I’m your host, Karen Scates. With me today are Erin O’Brien, our COO, and Ray Grieselhuber, our CEO and founder. It’s good to have both of you guys here today.
To continue our discussions around some current topics of interest for marketers, today we’re talking about the skills and level of technical savvy that future marketers will make. When people think of the evolution of marketing, I think they start out thinking of the madman sort of era where marketers are sitting around the conference table, brainstorming creative ideas, born of some gut intuition, having some bourbon. Today that same person is seen more in the technical role using tools and data to inform strategic marketing decisions.
How do you see those two views merging in today’s marketers?
Erin: Well, the bourbon part is still the same – at least here.
Ray: That’s never going to change. I think it has changed completely. Actually, interestingly enough at the end of the madman series, we’re starting to hinge at them making that change where they’re buying these large computers and they’re building whole new divisions around the data and technical analysis side of things. Even back in the early ‘70s, it was something that was not what’s happening. So it has obviously been a huge change.
I think it would be impossible today to present yourself as legitimate marketing manager without some sort of technical knowledge and knowledge of what’s going on. The question of how much you want to go on one direction or should go on one direction versus the other, that I think is always going to be dependent on some fundamental limits that each individual has. If you’re going to design the perfect university major for the marketing technologist, it will be a really interesting major, actually, or even a marketing manager with a very strong technology focus, I think you would just run into some certain limitations around people who are just geared one way or another.
You’re going to see a need for certain people doing more of the technology side and certain people doing more of the intuitive marketing stuff. I think that both types of people need to be able to communicate with each other and so forth a “non-technical” marketing manager. They need to understand and appreciate the role that data plays and understand how data-driven decisions are made.
And there’s nothing that prevents someone who doesn’t necessarily know how to build technology for being able to understand data. That’s probably actually one additional distinction to make because you have pure what we like to think of as more intuitive-based marketing, the creative side of it. The technical side of it, which is the ability to lead technical teams or build things and then there’s the data science, the math and statistics, analytics and everything else – I think those are different skill sets that some people possess more of in certain combinations than others. People have maybe one or two more or less of the other in different cases.
Erin: It shifted a lot worldwide but I think a lot of it started in Silicon Valley. We talked about this a lot when you and I first met. As technology became a bigger part of society and technology and advancements have bled into almost every facet of life whether you like it or market it or not, there was this emphasis placed on engineering and people who build things and a technology focus, and a lot of credence given to that. Somewhere along the way, people in a more marketing or communications field, it started to be thought of, “Anybody could do that job. Anyone could be a marketer.”
That’s a difficult thing for people who take marketing to that better level the same way that you would not want someone to say that anyone could have built your product. “Anyone could’ve built that app, anyone could do this.” Nobody really has that feeling, although it would be interesting because now there’s so much computer science going on in schools. Maybe in 15 or 20 years, it would be possible. A lot more people could’ve done something like that.
I think we’re talking about this marketing technologist role. One of the things that makes me a little bit nervous is that people will start to add this distinction to their title or this distinction to their capabilities because they think it is a marketable marketing feature and they’ll say it without really knowing what it means.
It’s the same thing that happened when social media started to really roll out people started saying, “I’m a social media expert.” By the very fact that you said that, I’m going to go ahead and say no. Calling yourself a social media expert or a Twitter expert or a marketing technologist as a way to market yourself worries me a little bit in what it might lead to.
Like now what will happen is people might have a bad experience with someone who has claimed such a thing and then they might say, “Based on what I experienced, I don’t actually need that role here. We don’t need that at this company.” I’m like, “Maybe you do. Maybe you just didn’t have the right person because they misrepresented themselves.”
I think there’s a lot to go in terms of qualifications for what marketing technology really means and how you get certified on certain stuff. Like Salesforce has certification levels and stuff like that, so maybe some other places, maybe there’s a better way.
Ray: That’s interesting, actually. That could be a whole other conversation. If you were to build a curriculum or a certification around this, what would that look like and how would you actually know that people have that set of capabilities.
Erin: The problem with most things like that is that a lot of times by the time somebody develops a curriculum, the core components of it have changed, which is why so many colleges have so much trouble dealing with exactly this. They’re trying to teach content marketing. They’re to teach social media. They’re trying to do these things. But by the time they actually write a curriculum and create any materials around it, even though you could do all online text stuff instead of having to buy physical books which take a lot longer to produce, new channels have come out and the way that people were using the channels previously has completely changed.
So it’s almost more of you need to have a case study type of a class and type of a role. You need to have people who have these jobs, really, can be guest lecturers in the evening and they just need to be teaching off the cuff a little bit as like more of a seminar class, I think, would be the only way to keep it real time.
Karen: It’s interesting because I was reading this roundup article not too long ago and they’re talking about who will be the new marketer. Where will that person come from?
Erin: Oh God. I know where this is going and I’m already upset.
Karen: The people said that they thought the new marketers are going to come from the technical side.
Erin: They said IT. Do not try to sugarcoat it because you know it makes me angry. We got into a fight about this this morning.
Ray, follow me on this. Train of thought right here. When people say “IT” do you think that if you took what somebody thinks of as an IT person that that person is going to be doing your marketing tomorrow, it means you either (A) don’t know what marketing is or (B) don’t know what IT is. Because I am really concerned that somebody would put it that way.
Ray: Yeah. The whole idea just gives me the [8:17 inaudible].
Erin: Oh man. I went off this morning about it. One of the points that I had made with regard to the matter is that IT is a really big word and can have a lot of different meanings, and a lot of people may mean it really differently when they say it. Similar to marketing, right?
I feel like a decent correlation for people is if you work in medicine, there are tons of jobs within that. There’s technicians, there’s pharmacists, there’s nurses, there’s doctors. And within each one of those fields, there are a million specializations. Your doctor could be a pediatrician or an orthopedic surgeon or an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) doctor. These are all really different things and you need them at different points.
The same thing with marketing. Somebody is not just marketing and all of marketing. Same with IT. You’re not just IT and all of IT. Yes, there are generalists who do take on those roles. Similar in GinzaMetrics when we started out and it was just me doing the marketing. Even then, I don’t know everything about everything even if I’m just trying to handle little bits and pieces of all of it. I think when a survey comes out and says that next generation of marketers will come from IT, I’m really nervous because I’m concerned that people don’t know either what their job is or what IT’s job is, and you shouldn’t have said it if you didn’t know what it meant.
Ray: Yeah. It’s more revealing in the sense that it does exactly what you said, which is it shows how little people understand about this entire set of industries or both industries, actually. That’s a whole another conversation. If I were going to describe what IT means, it’s someone who actually comes from a technical background. Even they would laugh at the idea of that person becoming a marketer. Unless they have no appreciation whatsoever of what marketing was.
Karen: I think what they’re thinking is that because there are so many tools and everything out there and it is more technical that [10:38 inaudible] marketers are going to have to be so technical that the whole marketing understanding marketing is going to be secondary, which I find a little absurd.
Ray: Understanding marketing can’t be secondary if you’re a marketer. Just being technical doesn’t mean you’re good at marketing. Just knowing how to code something doesn’t mean you’re good at marketing.
Erin: It’s just like knowing how to write doesn’t make you a journalist. Similar situation. It’s also weird to me that somebody would think that knowing how to build something and knowing how to use it are the same thing. Honest to God, I know engineers and this is a really normal thing. It’s not a knock on engineers. Same thing goes for marketers. I know engineers don’t actually know how to use the thing that they’ve built to accomplish its end goal. But I also know marketers like me. I market a software product. It doesn’t mean I know how to build software. These are not inextricably linked situations and, hopefully, never will be.
Ray: That brings us back to the question: what does marketing look like for the future? I think we’re basically saying that technology is going to continue and it’s going to do its thing. Every technologist has their own area of expertise and they have to be able to specialize to one degree or another and the degree to which they’re able to do that, they’re going to be more successful at interfacing with business people. That will probably be good for the career.
But on the flipside, if we are talking about marketing technologist and saying that the CMO does need to become much more technologically savvy – which I agree with that statement, I’m guessing you guys do, we can talk about that – what does that mean then going forward for the marketers?
Erin: That was one of the question, right, Karen?
Erin: If you have a chief marketing technologist, which people have been pointing to in multiple articles recently, do you still have a CMO? Do they have different functions, different roles within the organization? Do they have to work together? What does that even look like?
Ray: I personally think that having a CMO is not [12:56 inaudible] the need for a marketing technologist and vice versa. I don’t think that just because you have a marketing technologist you don’t need a CMO anymore. I think that the challenge for CMOs and people with that background is to understand what technology trends are happening, how they’re going to have an impact on their business, what they need to understand, and more importantly, who they need to hire and how they need to interact with those people. Not necessarily every CMO going out and learning how to become a programmer.
Karen: How much technical ability do marketers actually need in the future? Will the tools being developed for marketers become so user-friendly with seamless UI that marketers will not really need the technical expertise to use them but just be simpler to use?
Erin: Dude, you’re about get another epic rant which is you cannot say how much technological experience do marketers need because there are a million kinds of marketers. Marketers have different roles. When you get these really large organizations – I’ll take Adobe, for example, because I did work with an agency that handled part of their business.
Back then, Adobe had four or five different agencies handling their business. Our agency handled four different pieces of business within our own agency and those people didn’t even talk to each other. They would come over individually but we never have an all-Adobe meeting where everybody that worked for Adobe came and hung out and had one big meeting because these people worked in different business units and had different things. So it’s like one group of people would work within different products.
Let’s say there’s a really big difference obviously between Adobe Creative Suite and Adobe Enterprise platform. Those are just two different pieces of the four. Within that, sometimes what you would work on for Adobe Enterprise platform stuff we would be handling e-mail marketing and maybe PR or something. But for Adobe Creative Suite, maybe we were handling ad development and user outreach and support. But then other agencies would handle other completely different things.
Depending on what you’re doing, it really makes a huge difference as to not just how much technical acumen but what type of technical acumen you need, because there’s a big difference between knowing Salesforce and Marketo and then having a lot of information about let’s say Facebook’s ad network. These are really different technologies but it’s all technology.
Ray: Yes, agreed.
Karen: Do you think that marketing will ever get too technical and that we’ll need to rely on a different group to do the creative work?
Erin: Oh man. I feel really strongly about this. One of the things I see as being tragic is people who work in large organizations – I think sometimes what happens is you get funneled into a field and then if you end up more on the data analysis and technology side, you don’t get to be creative as much anymore sometimes, and so you’re not part of those more fun, big brainstorm meeting. And if you are, you’re there to shoot holes in stuff and say, “We shouldn’t do that because I have data that says you shouldn’t.” I think that that hurts everyone to some degree.
I’m not saying that you can be necessarily both the leader of a creative team and the leader of the technology team successfully and that there are people like Ray mentioned in the beginning who have an affinity for one or the other. Your team likely has affinities for something. But I think when you pit two people or two groups against each other, one which is data and analysis and things like that, they’re always going to be able to poke holes in anything because as we’ve always said, you can make numbers say whatever you want them to say at the end of the day. That team is always going to be the rain-on-your-parade situation. Then the creative team is always going to be trying to bust through and push the envelope but if they don’t know about the data or why what’s happening is happening, they might not make the best choices.
I think everybody needs a little bit of a healthy respect for that because if we’re calling all of those teams “marketing,” that the idea of the right marketing curriculum would mean that everybody would have at least a baseline like cursorily knowledge of all of these things. Even if it’s not your real house and doesn’t become your forte, you at least know it and have some appreciation for it.
Ray: I was just reminded of a similar situation. If you guys remember the SOPA conversation that went on about a year or two ago in congress where they’re debating how much more government intrusion and piracy they won’t allow? It’s basically an ongoing conversation but this was so close up to your big debate that turned big because of the way a lot of Internet companies responded.
One of the things that struck me about that whole conversation was you had all these congress members talking about these large social issues and it became pretty apparent during a lot of these conversations that none of them understood anything about technology at all. So they said, “We should do this. We should mandate this and dictate that.” People who had a more technical background would raise these objections and say, “You don’t really understand what you’re saying because if you did that, it could defeat it with A, B. C. etc.”
These congress people are like the old school marketing people who – or even what we’re talking about now, we were talking about if there’s going to be a division between “marketing” people and “technical” people, the risk is that you have people who (1) don’t understand what they’re talking about in the first place. (2) Basically, the congress people’s response to “you don’t understand what you’re talking about” was, “Okay, it sounds like we need to go back to the drawing board and get our nerds involved.”
What that reveals is it’s unfortunate in a sense that it shows that they not only don’t have that understanding is they have no appreciation for that understanding. From us who are generally more technically savvy, I think any one of us would look at that and say, “You’re the one who actually looks much more outdated and out of touch of what’s going on.” I think that would be a risk for any sort of non-technical businessperson to try to relegate the data side of things, technical side of things back to a team that does that and basically keep those roles too separate.
Erin: I think there’s such an interesting thing that happens, actually, a good example of what you were just saying that I always see get resurfaced – and it’s funny because my husband and I were talking about this just a day or two ago – is that people not understanding how things really work. Do you know those posts on Facebook where it says, “Facebook could no longer use my such and such…” and everybody thinks that if you copy and paste this thing and post it into your Facebook stream that it’s going to help you somehow. But if you actually go in and read the nature of the social network is if I take a picture and I post it on Facebook and I say, “You can’t do anything with this,” they can’t put it on other people’s walls, other people can’t like it and share it on theirs. You’re essentially saying, “I just want my own thing.” Then why don’t you just keep them in your phone if nobody is actually allowed to see it?
That goes to the lack of fundamental understanding of why Facebook needs the ability to share your information and needs the right that you see in that disclaimer that everybody rails against. Without it, it’s not a social network. It’s just going to be where you store pictures for your own private use.
I think that there’s a really interesting continuation of people wanting to understand what’s going on and trying to learn certain things and getting this information. And there’s a lot of misinformation out there for folks that maybe confuses people or scares people a little bit and then that turns them off. That’s bad because there’s a lot of taking advantage of people’s lack of knowledge about certain situations, and that causes a ton of harm. I don’t know necessarily how to regulate that thing other than to call people out individually for what they’re doing which often results in a bloodbath, as well.
I was talking to Karen about this the other day. I think it’s really great to work at a startup and one of the things that’s really great about it is it gives you this broad picture and end-to-end view of how a lot of things work together. Even if you don’t necessarily understand every single piece of things that work together or how to do that person’s job, you get a better idea of how all the jobs actually go together and how all the systems need to operate together. That’s something that most people who work in really big organizations never have because it would cause too much chaos.
An example is here, you and I have the full picture view but that doesn’t mean that everybody else knows what’s going on. The support knows what’s going on with development or what’s going on with customers or what’s going on with e-mail sends or whatever. If they had to know, they would (1) be as crazy as you and I are and (2) they won’t be able to get anything done because you’re too busy focusing on everything.
So when you get these really huge organizations – I’ll use e-mail marketing as an example because people think of it as being a little bit more archaic now and it has been around as a marketing discipline for a lot longer – people will build e-mails, write e-mails and do these things but at the end of whatever the content that there’s sharing is or sending out like the landing page or wherever it’s going, they may not have anything to do with that landing page anymore. The buck literally stops once they hit “Send” in terms of gathering data about the e-mail itself and whether or not people clicked but the information and the knowledge about the piece of content that they were trying to drive traffic to stays completely a mystery to them. They never get that information. I’m like, “How crappy is that?”
Karen: When we talk about where does the buck stop, if we have a CMO and a CTO, chief technology officer, or chief marketing technologist or whatever…
Erin: Those are two very different things: chief technology officer and chief marketing technology person. Two very different things.
Karen: Let me clarify, sorry. I misspoke. If you have a chief marketing officer and a chief marketing technologist, how do you separate the responsibilities of the results of the marketing efforts? How do you do that?
Ray: I personally think that if you’re talking about measuring the success of a company’s ability to execute on marketing initiatives that has to roll up to the CMO. I think that the CMO needs to be responsible for that. I don’t even know if chief marketing technologist is the role that should exist. If it does then… well, it depends a lot on the company. But I do think that there’s a role for marketing technologists, for sure. But I would say in most cases, organizationally speaking that should roll up to the CMO as well. But the CMO, in turn, needs to be able to understand exactly what that person is supposed to contribute and have a deep appreciation for what these contributions are.
Erin: I agree with you that it would be really hard to have both roles in one organization, although there has been a lot of conversations about it and I think that the conversation is saying that in some organizations you would need a CMTO instead of a CMO. Then I’m like, “Whoa, then what you really just need is a CMO that understands the technologies that you use.”
Because the way that I see it is you have a potentially have a CMO and everybody has a different C-level suite and whatever it is. You have a CMO and you have a CTO, right? And sometimes you have a CSO or whatever. At some point it’s somebody’s job to understand the strategic value of how you position things, how you market, how you take products and understand them, how you gather feedback and decide to some degree what to build and that’s where the CMO and the CPO (chief product officer) talk or whoever is responsible for product development need to interact. And then you have all of these technologies and integrations that you own and trying to decide what technologies to use, how to use them and how to integrate them into your organization. Maybe the combined conversation between all C-level suite members, but owned maybe via a CTO or in some places a CIO like a chief information officer depending on how your organization is setup but every organization has such a different set of what these things mean and a different mixture of C-level suite officers that I feel like there has to be a buck that stops the [26:29 inaudible].
Ray: Yeah, exactly. This conversation prompted me to search for the growing C-suite because it occurred to me that we’re getting a lot of C titles. There’s an article on fast company that talks about the 10 C-suite jobs of the future and they’re basically titles like chief ecosystem officer.
Ray: [26:53 inaudible] officer, chief automation officer. This one is good, chief freelance relationship officer.
Erin: No, negative. I hope this isn’t already out. This is like an onion article.
Ray: It should be. It should be.
Erin: That’s hilarious.
Karen: I like that – what was the one chief…?
Ray: Chief… Hold on.
Erin: Freelance relations officer?
Ray: Freelance relationship officer.
Karen: Ecosystem officer.
Erin: Is that ecosystem like HR or ecosystem like your technology? Like all of your parts that are combining.
Ray: It’s like your industry ecosystem, your supply chains, all the different relationships that you have. It’s like more of a business ecosystem.
Erin: I think that in the end of the day, my opinion is, I don’t care what you call it. I think that for everything that’s happening inside your organization, however it works best for your particular company and your employees, the buck needs to stop with someone and if that person needs to be capable of talking to other people within the organization. I think it’s ridiculous to expect any person at any title or responsibility level in the organization to understand at a deep-level everything.
Like the CMO is probably not going to be a Facebook ad expert, a Twitter expert, an e-mail marketing expert, an ad development expert. They should know how to talk to all of those people and at a strategic level help provide guidance and direction for the organization based on what they’re seeing and based on what else is going on.
Trying to add more C-level titles because there is more technology or there are more people or there are more roles, it’s just going to be crazy. You can’t have 18 C-level people. It’s hard enough with four or five.
Karen: So just play devil’s advocate. I’m going to ask a question that’s kind of counter to you in what we’re doing, but are there times when marketers might be better served by not using data?
Erin: Yeah. I think that there’s a couple that I would point to. The first is when whatever data you have is not based on your users or your industry. But that was based on maybe somebody in the healthcare industry using ads on Pinterest and it’s like, “It doesn’t have the same target audience as me and it’s not the same industry as me.” So if that’s the only data point that there is available right now – like when Pinterest was new, I was like, “Oh well, Pinterest is still really new and there’s not enough data to be conclusive. So I’m not going to not do it just because this one industry didn’t have a good experience.” So I would still say that that’s not a good one.
The other time is when there is data – maybe kind of spurious data but not a lot of data on something – I think that having no data is not a reason to not do something. That’s always a little scary to me because it prevents a lot of growth and new adoption. I think a lot of times, companies are waiting when a new social channel gets released or a new marketing methodology gets released. They’re waiting to see how other people use it or what happens. Sometimes you need to be what happens. Just go do it.
Ray: It’s also important to say what we mean when we say are there times when a marketer should not rely on data or not rely on technology because data and technology are two different things. They’re two different questions. Unless you’re talking about a marketer who is going to reach people entirely through local farmers markets then maybe you’re going to need technology at some point. So you’re going to have to understand what that looks like. But I would say data – to Erin’s point – comes from different sources. There’s industry data. I think that anyone who’s building a marketing plan today should be very aware of the data in their industry is something they’ve got to rely on that.
If you’re talking about building a new product, if you work in a startup, you’re not going to have user data anyway. It’s going to be your job to figure out what type of data you need to create in order to make decisions going forward. That becomes a more of a creative question around what you’re going to need going forward, what tools you’ll need, what data processes you’re going to need.
I think that there are times where the intuitive strengths that marketers bring are really important and more important than just relying on pure data alone. I think that there are times where you need to be able to use both using your intuition but also make good decisions around data.
Karen: I think that people make this assumption that marketing somehow used to be purely intuitive and now it’s purely technical, where even in the madman era, it was based on something. You’ve made a hypothesis based on something. You knew something. And then you’d go out and you’ve tested out and then you see what the reaction is. It was still using a scientific method. It wasn’t just what they show on TV, sitting around, drinking a bottle, getting drunk and go, “Yeah, let’s do that.” I think they’re still the same mindset. It’s just there’s some different tools and some different ways to get to that information now, better ways to get to that information.
Erin: This is how everybody keeps getting themselves into issues and why so many people are freaking out and concerned. There’s now so much information, so many data points, so much stuff that can be gained across not just your own efforts but competitors, industry, all these different things, and so many ways to approach it and visualize it. It’s actually what I’ll be speaking on Pubcon next week is about. It’s about data visualization.
We here talk about the method, medium, and message a lot in terms of date of viewing idea to really hone in on what’s working and what’s not working. But I think what’s dangerous right now and the reason that people are starting to give so much credence to these people who have technological acumen is because it seems a lot of times they’re the only people who can actually take this information, turn it into insights, and then help turn it into action. So if you don’t know how to read the data or access the data, then you don’t know how to turn any of that information into insights to do and think better. So now we’re praying to the gods of analytics and that has become a thing.
When people say marketers need to be from IT or marketers need more technology. What we’re talking about is marketers need better access and understanding of the information about how web marketing tactics they’re using are working and how to make smarter decisions based on that information.
Ray: Yes, absolutely.
If you’re going to be at Pubcon next week, be sure to catch Erin, who will be presenting in a panel discussion about data driven marketing. That’s happening Thursday at 1:30.
Of course, we’ll see you here next Friday. Same time, same channel.
Erin: Alright, see you guys later.