“Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use, do the work you want to see done.” Austin Kleon
With the lazy days of summer officially behind us, now is when many start thinking seriously about their career plans. For those who are deeply interested in both technology and marketing, this is your time. A new kind of career is emerging: Enter the Geek Marketer.
While hard statistics are hard to come by, anecdotally I can tell you that dozens of Fortune 500 companies — including some of our clients — are recruiting Geek Marketers either from within or outside. That’s not their specific title, of course. However, it is their role.
With CEOs demanding accountability and time spent online climbing, chief marketing officers are on a push to embed technology into every facet of their strategy. But marketers and technologists are not exactly two peas in a pod. They speak different languages. Marketers like GRPs (gross ratings points). Geeks like APIs (application protocol interfaces). Dilbert mercifully pokes at these differences. It’s all very Mars and Venus.
Enter Geek Marketers. These cross-trained specialists are fluent in both worlds and bridge them. They are marketers by trade, yet they also have a hard-core interest in technology and social anthropology. As curious individuals, they are constantly studying how digital advances are changing our culture and media. Armed with these insights, they regularly apply them in a marketing context by working closely with brand teams to codify new best practices.
Geek Marketers create competitive advantage through rapid-fire testing and learning. The people I know in this role are shepherding the development, testing and measurement of all kinds of groundbreaking marketing programs. Their pilots span from the simple, such as building RSS feeds, to the complex, creating multifaceted community programs. Often they are paired with people like me, who are in a similar role on the agency side.
This may sound like the trendy occupation du jour, but something tells me the position has staying power. To be sure, the entire industry is innovating and everyone’s technical acumen is slowly rising. Still, Geek Marketers are freed to live just a little bit further out on the edge than most. And with no end in sight for what technology can do to transform business, they can continue to play a key role.