Would you have your car serviced by an auto technician who doesn’t know how an internal combustion engine works? Would you hire an electrician who doesn’t know what three-phase electric power is? Of course you wouldn’t. So, why hire a digital marketing agency that doesn’t know the difference between PHP and Python or SaaS and Sass?
This isn’t to say that your digital marketing account rep should know how to code a web app using Django (MVC, not Reinhardt). But they should be one step away from an individual who does. Oh, and that individual should sit across the room, not the ocean.
Simply put, digital marketers must understand the environment they operate in. Acting as though technology is somehow constraining or distracting from strategy, design or content is akin to a guitarist claiming their amplifier is slowing down their fingers.
Don’t trust a marketer who lauds Luddites. These individuals are celebrating falsehoods that alchemy is behind every great advertising campaign. They’re ignoring the fact that good digital marketers work hard to learn the science behind effective campaigns. Stating that a sound strategy, a good logo, and a great tagline are all that’s important to a digital campaign is a lie. Don’t buy it.
Pull back the curtain on any recent successful campaign and you’ll find that a technologist played a crucial role in its planning, design and execution.
The risks of choosing an SaaS platform, CMS (Content Management System), CRM (Customer Relationship Management), etc., without the involvement of a technologist is high. You may have experienced the cost overruns, missed requirements, or missed objectives that come when an organization chooses to forge ahead without that crucial ally. Navigating digital waters alone or ill-prepared is dangerous for any organization. And hiring a digital agency without technology chops brings those same risks.
So, how do you know if the agency you’re considering has the right team in place? The agency’s answers to the following questions should give you strong evidence if a technologist is an important part of their team.
- Does the agency invite at least one technologist to most (if not all) meetings with you? Look for individuals with Development, Technology, Software or Systems in their title.
- Does the agency rely solely on vendors when executing technical projects? If so, who directs vendors? This individual should have a high aptitude for technology.
- Does the agency prepare functional or non-functional requirement documents for technical projects? If not, how are requirements gathered and communicated to you or the development team? Statements of Work typically don’t go into the detail required to execute a highly technical project.
Remember, a marketer’s primary job is not to sell; it’s to communicate. Technology enables frictionless communication. It’s not the hurdle; it’s the track. Having a coder on your marketing team is as essential as Keith Richards having a guitar tech.
A good technologist will help your marketing team facilitate your idea. And if you allow them, they may even make you sound better.