In search of Nerd Marketers

Pound & Grain's Jackson Murphy on understanding the realities of the moment...not just the possibilities of the future.

shutterstock_217008538By Jackson Murphy

We are searching for a new type of marketer, one literate in not just grand marketing theories, or just able to speak five coding languages. We seek the utility infielder of marketing, the Nerd Marketer.

In today’s hottest agencies there is a constant state of #humblebragging and over-sharing about the latest investments in everyday technology. But what this really means is toys. They have drones. They have new phones. They potentially know how to spell Oculus. They’ve possibly even heard of Snapchat. Don’t get us wrong, we’ve had our share of flavour-of-the-moment geekery too (ahem, Fliike). But this is not nerdom.

This isn’t anything remotely nerdy when it comes to the art of marketing. It’s not even marketing to nerds. Let’s just call these flirtations with pixels and technology what they really are, tactical nerding at best, social navel-gazing at worst.

Instead, what real “nerd marketing” should be is quite literally, nerding out about marketing. Obsessing over it in every aspect. Stuffing your agency with a few technical people does not a nerd make. Obsessing over how your real client could leverage the new Uber API and platform to deliver charming macaroons by limo is. See the difference?

But why the word “nerd?” Even in 2014 there is still a lingering pejorative stigma that a nerd is simply someone who probably smells of old comic books, and to quote the great thespian William Shatner, has never “kissed a girl.” But what nerds are becoming, what we are evolving to, is just the smartest generation of marketers the world has ever seen. Let’s face it; we’re obsessive and more sober than Don Draper.

“Most marketers are operating like it’s 2009,” says Gary Vaynerchuk, social media consultant and speaker. “I’m always trying to market like it’s 2015, but not like it’s 2020. A lot of my contemporaries who understand where the world is going go too far out, and aren’t practical.”

It’s understanding the realities of the moment where Netflix has 50 million users, but still has a very profitable DVD business for 6.26 million people. That’s a fact and completely not sexy Netflix data, but something only nerds would love, because it’s results-driven awesomeness.

It’s understanding that every minute of every day YouTube makes about $10,000 in revenue. If that number makes you question why you even get out of bed every day, then don’t read the next 10 words: PewDiePie, YouTube’s top channel holder, made $7 million last year. That’s roughly $12.31 per minute for basically surfing the net and commenting on videos.

It’s knowing that of 1.5 billion non-paid social actions recently surveyed about 1% will result in some sort engagement. Like the banner ads of old, most of them won’t even be seen by humans. And that’s okay, because you know good content matters, and you have to pay for it to be seen like the olden times.

Within every good planner and creative type lies the Nerd Marketer, living in a constant state of perpetual curiosity. For those who know it’s not enough to use tech as a tactic and talk about big data, and for those who are tired of wearable tech or the sharing economy being just PowerPoint slide talking points. Nerd Marketing is for those who need to lead brands into digital world order. Not just sometimes. To really live it, Nerd Marketers can’t fake it till they make it, they need to get dirty in a DIY, make-it-now world. They need to try things, fail and then try again. They need to be nerds. Like us.


Jackson Murphy is creative and partner at Vancouver-based Pound & Grain. 

Image via Shutterstock.