Plain-spoken Online Conversion Rate Newsletter - covering web design, sales, marketing, copywriting, usability, SEO, relationship marketing and consumer psychology.


On Becoming a Techno-Geek

By Jeffrey Eisenberg
CEO, Future Now, Inc.

I’m NOT a Techno-Geek! Really I’m not. I can’t write one line of code. I used to think HTML tag was a new game children play. I get way bored with too many details. Heck, I don’t even own a pocket protector. Nevertheless, I make my living from Internet Marketing and it seems I'd better get used to hearing it. Technology is a marketing Issue. My marketing colleagues and I need to start communicating with the techno-geeks or we won’t be able to do our jobs effectively.

A few months ago Rebecca Lieb wrote:

Technology is no longer at the service of marketing; it defines marketing. This places marketers on an unprecedented learning curve, requiring them to become conversant (and then some) with skills and tasks for which they are temperamentally ill-suited. On the other side of the fence, the tech folks are dealing with coworkers who cannot express their needs in the language of the realm. Programmers don't want creative briefs, value propositions, or mission statements. They need minutely detailed specs.

True. In fact, the problem is several orders of magnitude larger than that.

A potential client (over $20 million in sales) whose site was developed by an outside firm didn't even know if it owned the code. We suspect it didn't, since the developer services many of this company's competitors. What happens if the relationship goes awry? The client won't even have easy access to older order records.

Still not convinced? If you’re a marketer ask yourself if you’ve ever had to wait on technology to be implemented before launching a campaign?

What do we advise?

Marketers must understand development is not rocket science. They need to understand the developer's methods and drive development through its phases to meet their needs. Second, your next development project, whether done in-house or outsourced, must utilize an open methodology.

Are you up to the challenge of developing a new Web site? Bet you feel like you're about to navigate a minefield and somebody forgot to give you the map. If you follow the development process of wireframing, storyboarding, and prototyping, you can draw that map. These techniques coupled with open methodology will make development easier, faster, and cheaper.

Marketers must also understand that technology people not only act different than they do, but think differently as well. Here are a few hints that will help you relate:

· Their use of time is more deliberate so they feel like you are wasting their time, or yanking their chain, if you aren’t methodical about giving them information.

· They like their information in writing, not verbally. So if you must brainstorm give them time in advance to think about what they want to say.

· They love facts, statistics, bullet points, project management charts and all that stuff. Give it to them.

· They understand processes really well. Explain your goals as part of a process and they’ll get it faster.

· Terminology is important to them. Agree on what words mean and use them carefully.

· They love to figure out “How to do it” so get them involved after you’ve figured out “What to do and why to do it”. They’ll sidetrack marketers with the how’s if you get them in too early and you’ll sidetrack them if you don’t get out of their way and let them get things done.

These tips, which we usually offer in our private seminars, can save projects from failing. I hope you find them useful.


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GROK is taken from the landmark novel "Stranger in a Strange Land", by Robert A. Heinlein. It is a Martian word that implies the presence of intimate and exhaustive knowledges-serif" and understanding. Our "GROK" is a keen observer of the world around him and he takes a particular interest in the World Wide Web. The folks at Future Now like him a lot because he's taught them that "sometimes the price of clarity is the risk of insult."

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