Why I started learning code: a marketer’s perspective

Alexandra Reid is a consultant with Francis Moran and Associates.

By Alexandra Reid 

If you’ve read any of our posts here, you will know that we’re heavily involved in the Canadian and international startup scenes, from Ottawa to Montreal all the way to B.C.’s Okanagan Valley, the U.S. and the U.K.

On our blog, we regularly offer advice to young companies in the process of bringing their technology to market. Our Startup Story series for which I write covers a handful of startups on their journey from idea to product development to commercialization. Our Technology Marketing 101 series also offers practical advice for startups and established companies. We frequently attend startup-focused events, both in Ottawa and elsewhere, and Francis Moran regularly offers counsel to startup organizations and founders across Canada as an advisor to Startup Canada and mentor at FounderFuel and Mercury Grove. Not to mention that we’re a heavily focused marketing agency that deals exclusively with B2B high technology clients.

All this is to say that I speak with a lot of technology-minded people. As someone with a background in journalism, I’m well acquainted with the process of digesting new information quickly and so I’m usually able to get a better-than-passing grade in communicating with these people and understanding the basics of what they’re talking about.

As a content marketer here, I have to thoroughly understand the details of a client’s technology to ensure their content, whether a blog post, tweet, SlideShare presentation or whitepaper, captures all the important details about what they do and communicates those details effectively to their target audience.

But, at my core, I’m a communicator with a deep interest in technology, not a technology person with communication skills. I can scrounge up all the information necessary to answer the whatwhenwhy and where of a company and its products. But my weakness is the how.

Coding and communicating

I’m not talking about how a problem is addressed with technology. I’m talking about the product development process. Specifically, how that product was developed to meet the needs of the company’s target market.

Software is at the core of nearly all technology in the market today. And I’m ashamed that I don’t know how it’s written. In fact, it wasn’t long ago when my idea of code wasn’t a far stretch from that falling hieroglyphic-like nonesense from the Matrix. (Yup, there’s that confession on the table.)

I’m hoping that knowing basic code will help me communicate with my clients better (especially their development teams) and know their technology more thoroughly. In an ideal situation, this would help me use content to market that technology more effectively.

I’m a firm believer that we need to know where we’ve been to know where we’re going. Applying that logic to technology, knowing a product’s origins and development path could improve my ability to predict where it’s headed. And the more granular I can get with that knowledge, the better my ability to understand what’s possible, determine direction and estimate time to market for a particular product — vital elements for marketing strategy.

For personal and professional improvement

But it goes well beyond that. I use online tools every day for my job. While I know features and navigation, knowing a bit of code will help me understand how WordPress and other websites in general are constructed. It will also help me customize social media channels like Facebook and, perhaps one day, develop my own applications to run there.

I understand that from a marketing perspective it’s not necessary to know how software is written to do my job properly. I also respect that to get to even a basic level will take a tremendous amount of effort. I’m a total newbie. Do I think I’ll become a world-class developer? Likely not. But I am championing the idea that marketers at least familiarize themselves with the basic concepts.

Besides, the startups I speak with on a near-daily basis are so bloody inspiring, I may just go ahead and do my own startup someday, and knowing how to code will certainly come in handy … even if I just use it to understand my technical cofounder.

I’ve just touched on a few benefits of knowing how to code here, and I’m sure the more I learn the more benefits I’ll uncover.

I’ll be on Codecademy every afternoon, and have already started on JavaScript. Hold me to it, and wish me luck.

Am I out of my mind here or am I on to something?

Francis Moran and Associates is an associated team of seasoned practitioners of a number of different marketing disciplines, all of whom share a passion for technology and a proven record of driving revenue growth in markets across the globe. We work with B2B technology companies of all sizes and at every life stage and can engage as individuals or as a full team to provide quick counsel, a complete marketing strategy or the ongoing hands-on input of a virtual chief marketing officer.  

Francis Moran
Francis Moran
Francis Moran is principal of Francis Moran & Associates, a consultancy that provides business-to-business technology ventures with the strategic counsel required to make their innovations successful in a highly competitive marketplace. Francis can be reached at [email protected].

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