Geeks in Marketing?

Is something going on in the field of marketing that will change this practice forever? Are Geeks taking over this business discipline without anyone noticing? Are the Malcolm Gladwell’s and Stephen Levitt’s type of individuals the new heroes of the progressive Marketer (Authors of “Blink” and “Freakonomics”)? Data-Driven, analytical, and always out looking to understand and explain patterns and structures in seemingly unrelated events?

I am observing that this trend is accelerating. That’s one of the reasons why this blog is called “Marketing Geek. Here is my premise: Over the next few years Geeks in Marketing will become one of the most disruptive force in a discipline that traditionally was driven by big creative personalities.

What are the characteristics of a Marketing Geek? He or she seem to have several distinct qualities and behavioral traits:
• Obsessed with Data, Numbers, and (unfortunately) excel sheets
• On a mission to see and understand patterns, (causal and non-causal) correlations, and structures in everything related to business events, consumer behavior, and marketing programs
• Friendly arrogance to seek the truth, and unfortunate ability to call bullsh… by its real name

There seem to be a couple of reasons, why Marketing Geeks gain a stronger foothold. It’s driven by a stronger accountability pressure for any marketing expense, the staggering growth of available customer data, and the proliferation of technology tools that enable us to decipher and explain patterns better (Think Open Source). But how will the rise of the Geek influence the practice of Marketing? I suggest three key changes:
• More and more marketer in more and more meetings will ask the question: “What does the data tell us?” This will change how marketing programs are designed, and executed!
• The sophistication level of any marketing dialog between companies, agencies, and 3rd parties will rise due to a data and number centric foundation that everyone will share (hopefully)
• The currently dominant strategic and creative forces within marketing will learn how to share the power of decision making with more and more Geeks. I believe that this will make the creative better and more relevant for the consumer instead of pleasing the personal preferences of some executives within a Fortune 2000 company

But beware: Geeks can be dangerous and obnoxious. Therefore I am betting that the most successful marketing teams will be the ones who are able to marry successfully the three key tribes of marketers: The Creative, The Strategist/Account Guy, and the Marketing Geek. It will be an interesting encounter, hopefully more “Dancing with the Stars” than “Survivor”!