Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Marketing Must Reads

One of my more interesting strengths centers around being a geek. I still get excited about nuanced technical things like operating systems, compilers, and algorithms for the same reason I get worked up about Alan Greenspan has to say: there be potential in those words. Being fluent in the lingua franca of technology and product marketing means I tend to meet interesting people with interesting technology that are baffled why "nobody gets it". Thus my opportunity: translate geek to marketing, marketing to geek, strategize, and drive execution.

Somewhere along the way, I find myself talking to a frustrated geek. We've translated his work into English which is essentially saying we've gone from logical to logical. However, translating the nuances of marketing isn't so easy because it isn't based on logic; rather marketing is based on the expected responses of humans and humans aren't always logical.

The essence of my conversation with the frustrated geek revolves around "Give me an algorithm! Give me a table! Please - wrap this stuff up in a pretty layer of logic for me to digest!" Unfortunately, it isn't that easy and I end up giving two pieces of homework: read Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind and Made to Stick. While Positioning can be a bit nauseating at times, Made to Stick offers that touch of cynicism that makes them credible. Made to Stick is also written by two mildly geeky guys which makes their use of language comfortable to the geeky reader. E.g., Gregorian vs. Julian calendars in date/time functions come up in chapter two.

Of course neither achieve the goal of wrapping logic around human response, but they both provide critical elements to understanding where we're headed and a lot of common stories for us to reference as needed. Both also give a series of concrete grips on an otherwise squishy topic.

After geeks have read both books, conversations on critical points that involve them almost always become more productive. Words like "simplicity" start to resonate much better and they don't get nearly as frustrated about the fact their buyer neither knows nor cares why most things work.

If you're dealing with a geek of your own or you are a geek looking to better understand the apparent lunacy of marketing, both books are recommended reading.