The Modern Marketer

Keeping up with the times

Specialist Meets Generalist

I am becoming more aware each day of exactly how lucky I am to be studying marketing now, in this day and age.

The marketing world is changing, adapting, revolutionizing the way it functions. And marketers are being forced to do the same.

According to Jamie Stevens, “For generations, professionals have been pressured to be either a generalist or specialist. The generalists were the managers who oversaw operations, and had a holistic view of how marketing was accomplished, but were less capable of doing the work themselves. Generalists relied upon specialists who knew how to write, design, code, or analyze. And for generations of marketing, this worked just fine.”

specialist  download

But this is rapidly changing. In today’s marketing world it is becoming more and more important to be both a generalist, and a specialist. “Stated simply, a great technical marketer can devise, develop, launch, and analyze their marketing campaigns with little or no assistance.” “You have to know what to ask for and how it’s done.”

Unfortunately for some, this is beginning to render them obsolete. They’ve been largely stuck as either a generalist or a specialist for most of their career, and now they either have to catch up with the times, or be left behind.

Not so for us. As current marketing students, my peers and I are being armed with knowledge that small few others have. According to Vault Analytics, only about 1% of marketers currently know how to use SQL (Structured Query Language). And I doubt the numbers are much higher for the percentage of marketers who fully understand A/B testing, or who have a functioning knowledge of HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, etc. (Not that I’m a pro coder yet either, but I’m working on it!)

I’ve talked about A/B testing and coding in past posts, but SQL is relatively new to me. Basically it’s, “a database language designed to enable you to query, manipulate, and communicate with your database.” It allows you to quickly and easily do things like; pull a list of all of your past customers whose most recent purchase occurred outside of the past three months, as in this great and easy to understand example.

It is also INSANELY faster, more efficient, and more reliable than trying to do the same things in a program like Excel. Using SQL, you “can communicate directly with the database, extract exactly what you need, and because your procedure is there written in code and not lost in a series of manual copies, pastes, and filters, you can re-run it at any time and easily find and fix errors in your process.” I don’t know about you, but this sounds so much better than the time consuming processes and formulas I’ve had to hash out in Excel in the past.

If you’re interested in gaining some basic knowledge, check out this website! It’s a great introduction into the basics of SQL, and gives some really good insight into why it’s such an important skill to have.


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