Plain-spoken Online Conversion Rate Newsletter - covering web design, email techniques, sales, marketing, copywriting, usability,  and consumer psychology.

Suits Versus Geeks

The field of battle: your online business. On the one side, right-brained marketers; on the other, left-brained technology folks. Both have the same objectives, but boy, do they speak very different languages. To make sense of it and find the common ground, you really need someone on the order of a United Nations interpreter, right?

Nah. You just need me, the new, green Point-Counterpoint moderator! And these two guys - Jeffrey Eisenberg and John Quarto-vonTivadar (one Suit, one Geek) - to help everyone acknowledge the strengths of both right- and left-brain thinking when it comes to success on the Web. And to communicate in language the other is likely to understand.

'Cause at the end of the day, it works out much better if we all play nicely in the same sandbox.

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On Becoming a Techno-Geek

By Jeffrey Eisenberg
CEO, Future Now, Inc.

I’m NOT a Techno-Geek! Really I’m not. I can’t write one line of code. I used to think HTML tag was a new game children play. I get way bored with too many details. Heck, I don’t even own a pocket protector. Nevertheless, I make my living from Internet Marketing and it seems I'd better get used to hearing it. Technology is a marketing Issue. My marketing colleagues and I need to start communicating with the techno-geeks or we won’t be able to do our jobs effectively.

A few months ago Rebecca Lieb wrote:

Technology is no longer at the service of marketing; it defines marketing. This places marketers on an unprecedented learning curve, requiring them to become conversant (and then some) with skills and tasks for which they are temperamentally ill-suited. On the other side of the fence, the tech folks are dealing with coworkers who cannot express their needs in the language of the realm. Programmers don't want creative briefs, value propositions, or mission statements. They need minutely detailed specs.

True. In fact, the problem is several orders of magnitude larger than that.

A potential client (over $20 million in sales) whose site was developed by an outside firm didn't even know if it owned the code. We suspect it didn't, since the developer services many of this company's competitors. What happens if the relationship goes awry? The client won't even have easy access to older order records.

Still not convinced? If you’re a marketer ask yourself if you’ve ever had to wait on technology to be implemented before launching a campaign?

What do we advise?

Marketers must understand development is not rocket science. They need to understand the developer's methods and drive development through its phases to meet their needs. Second, your next development project, whether done in-house or outsourced, must utilize an open methodology.

Are you up to the challenge of developing a new Web site? Bet you feel like you're about to navigate a minefield and somebody forgot to give you the map. If you follow the development process of wireframing, storyboarding, and prototyping, you can draw that map. These techniques coupled with open methodology will make development easier, faster, and cheaper.

Marketers must also understand that technology people not only act different than they do, but think differently as well. Here are a few hints that will help you relate:

· Their use of time is more deliberate so they feel like you are wasting their time, or yanking their chain, if you aren’t methodical about giving them information.

· They like their information in writing, not verbally. So if you must brainstorm give them time in advance to think about what they want to say.

· They love facts, statistics, bullet points, project management charts and all that stuff. Give it to them.

· They understand processes really well. Explain your goals as part of a process and they’ll get it faster.

· Terminology is important to them. Agree on what words mean and use them carefully.

· They love to figure out “How to do it” so get them involved after you’ve figured out “What to do and why to do it”. They’ll sidetrack marketers with the how’s if you get them in too early and you’ll sidetrack them if you don’t get out of their way and let them get things done.

These tips, which we usually offer in our private seminars, can save projects from failing. I hope you find them useful.

Sound Off!

click here for a printable version of this entire article

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Check out the Free webinar I'm giving with Jim Novo called:

The Marketer's Common Sense Guide to E-Metrics:
22 benchmarks to understand the major trends, key opportunities, and hidden hazards your web logs uncover.

This free event will be on May 10 and May 24. More info? It's the third event on the list. Register Now.

Bryan Eisenberg
CIO, Future Now, Inc.

P.S. Do you have questions you would like to see answered here? Ask away!

On Becoming a Marketing Weenie

By John Quarto-vonTivadar
CTO, Future Now, Inc.

Despite a technology background, I had the dubious honor last week of being called a “marketing weenie” by a young programmer. The kid’s diatribe was delivered as a 21st century version of “your Momma wears combat boots,” yet the comment illustrated a fascinating point: “techno-nerds” (so there!) have virtually no understanding of key marketing and sales concepts, and this lack of knowledge helps perpetuate the vast chasm of misunderstanding between the “geeks” and “suits.”

Multidisciplinary cross-training is an essential skill in prospering in the upcoming Internet Age, Version Two. People who succeed will be those who can appreciate all the pieces that connect to profitability and who can provide complementary solutions within team efforts. I’d like to touch on a few fundamental points technology-driven people need to understand from their sales and marketing counterparts. If you’re a tech person, read on! The basic ideas are simple; yet mastering them will open amazing doors for you in networking with actual decision-makers (and check-writers), both key to career advancement. If you’re on the business side of the coin, read on! You’ll have a better idea of what the guy with the pocket protector “just doesn’t get.”

Marketing Drives Traffic, Sales Drives Income

It may seem obvious to the general public, but rarely do techies make the connection between the MarCom & Sales Department and his salary. Who can fault them? Technology budgets, like all support budgets, are always sinks of money, and certainly the feeding frenzy of the Internet Age, Version One - with its mantra "if you build it, they will come” - gave techies the false impression that they themselves are the creator of corporate profits.

Let’s get it straight: Marketing drives visitors to your company, Sales converts them into customers. Marketing discovers the gold mine, Sales actually digs out the gold. Technology is a support function that helps discover and helps dig. Sometimes the most obvious things are the ones most easily forgotten. But don’t you forget!

One group always remembers where the money comes from: CEOs and business owners. So the key to influencing them is to understand the factors in their decision process. The people who sign checks care about sales, and so must you.

Getting People to Take Action

It might surprise some technology people to learn that there’s a distinct process involved when people take action. This can be summarized by the acronym “AIDAS”. The Attention of the person is tickled, their Interest is piqued, a Desire is stimulated in their mind, and then an Action is taken - and afterwards the person evaluates their Satisfaction with the process. The key here is understanding that the first three steps are emotional ones (attention, interest, desire) which are only then confirmed by the logical left-brain (action). The final step (satisfaction) is then a reconfirmation by a hybrid emotional-logical response.

Did you know that buyers go through a distinct process when they buy? I present it here in terms technology people can appreciate:

  • Problem Recognition
  • Information Search
  • Evaluation of Alternatives
  • Purchase Decision
  • Purchase Completion
  • Was the Problem Solved?
  • Sellers, however, follow a different process:

  • Prospect for Needs/Desires
  • Establish Rapport
  • Qualify the Needs/Desires
  • Present to the qualified Needs/Desires
  • Close on satisfying the Needs/Desires
  • Being aware of what is going on in people’s heads and understanding the processes that go on in the Marketing and Sales world, delivers a tremendous clarity of purpose that you can use to apply technology to support these functions. The key to converting visitors into buyers is to win their emotional hearts. A repeat buyer is created only when that buyer’s need is met in a legitimately honest way. Both of these are strong sub-conscious, emotional, right-brain decisions.

    Features Win the Mind, Benefits Win the Heart

    Techies put a lot of stock in following logical processes and logical reasoning; both are left-brained functions of the human mind. This leads many companies, but especially a technology company, to misinterpret “features” to be the same as “benefits.” They’re not. The company is so familiar with its own product that it feels listing the Features is sufficient to imply the Benefits.

    The buying audience, even a technologically driven one, is still a human audience, and people want to know the benefits first because this answers the question, “Whats in it for me?” Only then, when the right-brain “feels” good about the product benefits, is the buyer receptive to logical reasons for that decision. Confirming a decision already made on the emotional right-side side of the brain by appealing to the logical higher-brain reasoning of the left brain, answers the question “How is it good for me?” And that’s a Feature List.

    Techies, the next time one of those opaque “initiatives” from MarCom hits your desk, try digging a bit - look for an underlying process and things will be much clearer. If you can’t find one, get one of those “Marketing Weenies” to explain it to you as a process. Remind him that Techies “have no problem ‘getting’ the Forest, you just gotta show them the Trees first.” And if all else fails, slip "The Suit" a copy of the article above!

    Sound Off!

    click here for a printable version of this entire article

    P.S. If you enjoyed this issue, why not share it with your colleagues and friends?
    They'll appreciate it. Forward This Issue To A Friend!

    GROK is taken from the landmark novel "Stranger in a Strange Land", by Robert A. Heinlein. It is a Martian word that implies the presence of intimate and exhaustive knowledge and understanding. Our "GROK" is a keen observer of the world around him and he takes a particular interest in the World Wide Web. The folks at Future Now like him a lot because he's taught them that "sometimes the price of clarity is the risk of insult."

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