When I first heard people talking about 1x, 3x, and 10x software developers, it was a few years ago at a senior management meeting. The idea was that some developers can be ten times more productive than others, and there has since been a lot of debate about it. But regardless of one’s opinion about the issue, I found it interesting that people were associating the 10x/Rock Star label to developers—but rarely to other people around the company.
In my own experience as part of a larger company, I have to admit, I don’t remember anyone ever telling me: “Hey, you know Susan down in Accounting? She is a 10x accountant! She’s a rock star!” Still, I don’t see why a person can’t be a rock star in any job or position, assuming there’s a way to judge what constitutes high performance.
While I’m not sure I adhere to the 10x philosophy in general, I do know that some developers—like any other type of workers—do produce higher quality work than others. At the same time, we have to keep in mind that quality of work isn’t equivalent to how quickly someone gets the job done. It also doesn’t factor in how many languages and frameworks the developer knows—like if they’re a full stack developer, for example.
Getting Marketing out of the Dark Ages
Marketing is still very much in the Dark Ages when it comes to understanding and identifying where customers are coming from, who to target and how to target them. Despite the advances in technology, mass emailing, brochures and Super Bowl TV ads are still the norm. Marketers deal with highly sophisticated concepts, processes, data, and software. Yet above-board marketing campaigns are still the norm. And although everyone wants to have a single view of the customer, marketing departments are themselves split into functional and knowledge-based units-consider the website team, the newsletter team, the event management team, the SEO experts, the Pay per Click experts, the social media team, the content managers, the partnership managers and so forth.
In the late 90s, there was a lot of talk about the “360º view” of the customer. Today, we don’t just refer to customer channels as much as we refer to “multi-layer” channels to customers. And we’re not talking about 3, 5 or 10 channels. We’re talking about 50+ channels—and things are only getting more complex.
So how does a company create a marketing team? If you are a startup, you are limited in your choices. You either hire a company that claims it will to do it all (or will do as much as you can afford), or you hire a person.
If you decide to hire someone, how many people can you afford? What are their expertise and their focus? Will you be able to find someone who knows a world of tools (WordPress, Google Analytics, MailChimp, HubSpot, Hootsuite, Twitter Ads, Facebook Ads, and others)? Someone who can produce and publish newsletters?
Will they also have excellent writing skills in the languages that you use to communicate with customers for blog-writing?
Will they be able to manage projects, handle events, produce press releases, and understand both the business targets as well as the products to generate content?
Assuming they have a deep understanding of SEO and SEM, will they also understand the technical issues associated with implementing analytics for all the channels into your website?
One obsession: tracking everything!
In the early days of ClicData, we hired a marketing guy who was happy to install on our website all of the tracking scripts and pixels on our website that he could get his hands on.
For those who don’t know, tracking scripts and pixels are basically pieces of code—HTML elements—provided by your Ad provider (Google Ads, Facebook Ads, etc.) that you “hide” on your website pages to track visitors and conversions.
After the new guy installed the tracking scripts for Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager (yes, I know), Facebook and Bing Ads, the LinkedIn tracking snippet, Capterra, Software Advice, and Get App scripts and pixels, he was dumbfounded when he read a report that said our website was not only very, very slow but it also suffered from a variety of scripting and blocking issues.
Now, every Marketing Manager’s job is to understand where their customers are coming from and what converts them—but doing so requires technical skills, and some of them are pretty advanced. You might try and pass those efforts on to the “technical” team, but if you don’t have a Marketing Manager who is knowledgeable enough to challenge certain implementation choices, even the technical team won’t be able to come through for you. They’ll just do what they are told.
The Rock Star Marketing Manager’s skillset
In some alt-universe, if I could have anything I wanted, I’d want my Marketing Manager to have this set of skills:
- Business knowledge
- Project Management
- Sales & marketing
- Web/HTML Basics
- Data Analysis
- Communication skills
This all might be a big ask, but it’s not impossible. Marketing—especially marketing for the web—is an exciting area precisely because it has a lot of variety, so you’re apt to find people with a variety of skills. Of course, some skills are mission-critical, such as business knowledge, creativity, and communication, while others are less so, such as data analysis, web/HTML, and the rest. But keep in mind that if your marketing person is completely lacking in any of these talents, you will have a gap that will need to be filled by someone somehow.
Technical skills? Really?
Yes, having technical skills will give your Marketing Manager much-needed discernment over their team. Have you ever tried to set up a campaign in Google Ads or wanted to add some exciting animation to your website? It usually falls to the Marketing Manager to either do it themselves or find someone to do it for them. But how can they determine if the job was done well?
After all, the pieces to the puzzle are intricate and complex. Just keeping up with Google search engine rules is an almost full-time job since there are so many things involved. If their new algorithm gives more value to H1 headers or a specific META tag in your website HTML, then your marketing manager needs to have that understanding. But it goes even deeper than that. Something that is good for SEO might not be good for SEM. What’s good for both still might not be good for pay-per-click engines. And what is good for all of the above still might not be good for your website for other reasons.
So in-depth marketing technical skills are required of anyone making a career in this field. It is no longer just “Database Marketing” it is “All Technology Marketing”. Understanding the relationships and impact of a newsletter campaign on the website performance and how to differentiate between organic, natural and paid traffic is not just a simple chart breaking down both but rather an in-depth analysis of all channels, their relationships and trying to understand traffic attribution.
Marketing Managers may not be required to develop full applications but it is their responsibility to have the necessary skills to understand HTML, how browsers react to different technologies, what is good code and bad code, the tools to monitor and track visitors, and what are the relationships and impact between all those technologies on your business.
Why creativity is important
There comes a time in every Marketing Manager’s career when they need to implement a strong campaign or create something amazingly catchy at an event or on their website—but they simply don’t have the budget for it.
That’s why creativity is so valuable. It’s incredibly important to have someone who can think outside the box and outside of what everyone (including experts) tell them so that you can still be effective and productive. Most great and memorable ad campaigns got that way due to an incredible degree of creativity (and probably at great expense as well, to be honest). But by having someone who’s creative on your team, you will be more likely to come up with ideas for launching campaigns without spending a fortune.
You might come up with a different list for the skills and talents of a 10x Marketing Manager, but I am very sure that if you have one, you will quickly see better sales results across the board. We know because we do!