Rise of the Marketing Technologist: Q&A with Kevin Oakley

Rise of the Marketing Technologist: Q&A with Kevin Oakley

Feb 15, 2021 | By Julie Jarnagin

marketing technologist


In his latest article for Professional Builder, Kevin Oakley laid out his foundational ideas of the new-to-homebuilding position of marketing technologist. The MT role is a hybrid of interpreter, BS detector, pollinator, and visionary, and will likely be as critical to a builder’s success as the Online Sales Specialist was in 2020.

While the article explains how the marketing technologist will ultimately drive success in an increasingly digitized world, I asked Kevin a few more practical questions about the role – what are the qualifications, the day-to-day responsibilities, and where does a builder find such a person?

Read the article – Your Next, Best Sales Tool: the Marketing Technologist – then dig into the interview below.


Pro Builder Marketing Technologist article

Click to read: Your Next Best Sales Tool: the Marketing Technologist


Q: What is a marketing technologist’s background? What should a builder look for in a candidate? 

A: Inside the industry is of course ideal, but unlikely. This is the rarest unicorn yet. Outside the industry is possible, but will take them time to learn the true problems and opportunities as they get to know the industry. When coming from within the industry it will likely take them time to fill in the gaps of their knowledge on the technology side. In either case this will cause a delay in return on your initial investment as they gain momentum. That’s why I see the adoption of this role going along the same lines as the OSC role – early adopters will invest in the future opportunity knowing that it may not make complete sense today.

Kevin Oakley

Q: Are there other industries that employ marketing technologists?

A: All web / tech companies – Amazon, Apple, Shopify, AirBNB, Zillow, etc. Anyone who understands that power that data capture and analysis (by humans or A.I.) are investing in this kind of position.

Q: In the article you outlined the four distinct roles the MT should play in an organization: interpreter, BS detector, pollinator, and visionary. What’s the balance of these roles? Is any one more important than the other?

A: Again, the idea of momentum is important here. At the outset, visionary and BS detector are likely tied for first place. As momentum builds and more parts of the organization are getting involved – then interpreter and pollinator will increase in importance.

Q: If someone wants to become a marketing technologist in home building, what specific programs or applications should they brush up on? Any seminars or conferences that would be helpful?

A: Avoid “technology” related conferences within our industry for now. Unfortunately they tend to be created for the express purpose of selling you something. Sales disguised as education has never been more prevalent and something you need to be aware of.

Unfortunately there are very few truly entry-level resources as many of the concepts are built off of business intelligence or business systems concepts taught at the university level.

Segment, one of my favorite Customer Data Platform providers, (because I think Twilio – the parent company does amazing work) offers a free Analytics Academy course that can be a great starting point.

At DYC we’ll continue to create resources specific to our industry to help as well and fill in some of the gaps for those truly starting out on this journey.

Q: Since this role doesn’t exist in home building (for the most part), what’s the learning curve or ramp-up period for someone new to the role? How long before they’re able to be effective or implement change?

A: Likely 3 to 6 months before real payoffs begin to emerge. Importantly, this is only if traditional IT / Marketing / Operations team members are cooperative. This will be a challenge as departments try to guard their own turf.

Q: What does the day-to-day job of a marketing technologist look like? Is this a full-time, in-house role that builders will need indefinitely? Or is this more of a consulting role?

A: The risk to business results of not doing this well, combined with the complexity, means I would highly recommend that this is an in-house role. Outsourcing OSCs, for example, is something that builders would have found extremely frustrating over the last year as over 50 percent of sales came in from this position. How could you give up that much control of your results?

The temptation due to the complexity will be to try and outsource it, but privacy laws and the real potential of unintentionally helping to create your own competitor using YOUR data means it should be avoided. Aggregation of large swaths of data by any outsourced partner, if not done correct, could arm them with more overall data that could be sold to the highest bidder… more on this to come later.


Related Resources:

12 Predictions for the New Home Industry in 2021

Ep 122: ICYMI – Pulse 2020 Keynote Speaker Highlights


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