Sitting in a building 10 minutes away was the CMO of a sister-company that was also growing and achieving success. The difference was that this CMO was a charismatic creative, leveraging her personality and penchant for design to create “softer” campaigns. She was a frequent speaker and later recruited to join a reputable regional venture capital fund.
I remember discussing the differences between the two with the CEO of the latter company, who shot down any attempts I made to compare the technical nature of one to the other. His breakdown was simple:
They are different and can’t be compared, but are equally important.
Nearly 5 years later, I am in a much better career situation, largely driven by my ability to both sell and deliver on “softer” marketing services. This includes writing, public relations, content, copy, speaking, and other “non-technical” skills.
I find myself still in awe and somewhat envious of hardcore technical marketers. So much of the online world, from landing page optimization to web scraping and data mining, is centered around data and analytics. The best growth marketers I know tend to also fall in the technical category. Most are trained engineers by either education or early profession.
Which Type of Marketer is Better?
There are the rare breed of marketers that are proficient in both. While definitely an asset, I would argue it is not necessary to be a successful marketing leader. The role of a CMO is to hire and manage various types of talent, as well as set the larger marketing strategy for the company. Like any other business, you don’t need to know everything.
Keep in mind, that marketing as a profession and skill has been largely comprised of the social sciences, although marketing is often considered a business study more than a social science itself. This includes understanding people, consumer decision making, human vulnerabilities, and more. The importance of this has not changed.
What has changed, is your assumptions are now proven to be right or wrong based on the data extracted from testing various assumptions. Tweak, test again, and repeat until you have a winning outcome. You see where I am getting here.
Create More, Compete Less: Combining Both Worlds
Lastly, there has been an increase in technical marketing snobbery prevalent across social media and “valley” crowds. If you see this as a non-technical marketer and get discouraged, don’t worry about it. Find what works for you and double down on your strengths.
For each category of marketers, don’t look at the other group as your enemy, subordinate, or superior. They are simply peers, offering complementary skill sets to help reach a broader goal. The broader goal should always supersede ego. Continue honing your craft and learning everyday. Marketing is ever-evolving, but the underlying fundamentals won’t change.