The gulf between IT and marketing used to be vast, but with the ascendancy of consumer electronics and nearly universal familiarity with the rudiments of HTML, marketing professionals can benefit tremendously from learning a few clever coding tricks. Your development team can do the heavy lifting while marketing adds the decorator touches to static sites, social media channels and blogs. Gaining some insight into coding also helps marketing professionals express what they need to site builders; by having a common language with the people who code for a living, marketers and developers achieve better results.
Coding 101: It’s Easier Than You Think
Marketing pros, especially those who aren’t digital technology natives, sometimes feel coding isn’t in their DNA. They’re often thinking of coding as it was for Web 1.0 developers of even the days of DOS prompts. New, more intuitive tools make coding accessible to a far larger audience. A favorite acronym for developers is WYSIWYG: “What you see is what you get.” In other words, many apps let you type in what you want to say and click a few radio buttons to add the code automatically. Being able to add data to an online shopping cart on the fly with Joomla, embed a video into a WordPress blog post and spruce up an “About Us” page with a few HTML tags is within anyone’s grasp.
Most of what you need to know is already on the web, and you only need a search engine to find it. Google will lead you to basic courses in HTML or frequently asked questions about WordPress. Because finding these resources on your own lets you work at your own pace, it’s an ideal solution for any marketing pro who wants to broaden his or her skill set. That’s important to do not only because you can make some of your own simple fixes, but also because it can inspire you to greater creativity.
Creating with Code
If someone were to ask you to fix your car’s transmission, you might not be able to comply because you don’t have the training. Understanding what the transmission does and why that rattle happens when you shift gears, though, lets you communicate more effectively with someone who does have expertise in auto repairs. When you know enough about coding to understand what it can do, you and your developer can push the envelope of what your tools can do.
Pick a developer’s brain over lunch, and you’ll hear at least a couple of stories about clients with little knowledge of what their IT team could accomplish. Tales of instructions to “Make it less blue and more green – but don’t add yellow” or “program Google to put us first” are common. Marketers who know a thing or two about how to code avoid becoming the subject of someone else’s cocktail party story and get more done.
Insight and Oversight
When you know what coding takes, you gain a feel for how long a project should take in real time and get more out of your development budget. Asking your coder to add new items to your online shop or create a new category page might only take part of an afternoon; expecting the programmer to build a web commerce site from scratch will take considerably more time if you want it done well. Conversely, if you hire outside contractors, you’ll recognize when someone’s giving you an unrealistically short time span or a low-ball offer that might mean amateur-level work.
Coding and marketing aren’t wholly different departments, especially not for businesses that embrace online marketing. Be a crossover artist and develop your coding skills to improve your marketing savvy.
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