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Friday Mail Bag: Do all resort marketers need to know how to write code?

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This is a question that comes up regularly.

Outside of ski circles there’s been a back-and-forth debate on the subject. First the momentum was in favor of learning, then it swung the other way. Now flip a coin and you’ll have as good a chance as anyone of guessing the “best practice” for the day.

But what about ski resorts? And, more specifically, ski resort marketers? Should they learn how to code?

As usual, it depends.

A Different Approach
Typically when this topic is addressed the conversation stays as nebulous and vague as the word “code”.

Today, I’m going to talk specifically about a pair of languages that go hand-in-hand and make up the vast majority of code a marketer would ever need to touch.

  • HTML
  • CSS

I’m also going hone in on a specific word in my title, NEED. Not should or could, NEED.

I’ll try to keep my opinion (and it is just that, an opinion) as concise and to-the-point as possible by running through four common titles/roles, and answer the question for each.

VP/Director of Marketing
NO. They do not need to know code. Many of the new guard of resort marketers know code from previous stints in digital or interactive marketing roles which may give them a leg up in certain circumstances, but in their current role there is little real need.

The one exception might be smaller teams. If you’re alone in the office on a semi regular basis, that answer could easily change to YES. There is a hat that floats around all offices with HTML/CSS blazened on the front. That hat tends to need an owner at totally unplanned, imperfect times. If you don’t have someone to turn to in those moments, it might have to be you.

Marketing Manager
This is a tough one to call because the title, while extremely common, is also one of the most vague around. It could mean you’ll be wearing any combination of a dozen different hats (or all, depending on the resort).

But because you’re a step or two below a director or VP, you’ll likely be on the front lines of content creation, email marketing, and more.

In that context, YES, I do think a marketing manager needs to know at least some HTML/CSS. Again, at some resorts you may have no need at all, but if you keep that title at your next gig, there’s a good chance you’ll rub shoulders with a little code.

Digital/Web/Online/Interactive Marketing People
For this crew, the answer is absolutely YES. Digital marketers need to know HTML/CSS.

And not just know, but be fairly comfortable with. You’re touching too many things on a daily bases that are held together with code just below the surface to not be. If something doesn’t look right, as it often does, you need to be able to patch that up yourself. Contest systems, squeeze pages, blog posts, email sign up forms, and email templates could all be in your wheelhouse.

The common three behind all those? At least one step along the way that puts you and raw HTML code face-to-face.

Social Media Folks
Again, the answer is YES. Social media managers NEED to know HTML/CSS.

Depending on how large your team is this may change, but considering you have this title at all I’m guessing your team is larger than most. You’ll likely find yourself needing to edit a little code here and there. As great a need as an interactive marketer? Probably not, but you’ll spend too much time in digital realms to escape all encounters with code.

Need vs Want
That said, you may want to learn code even if those skills aren’t required in your current role.

Over and over again I see jobs posted that list of the typical skills you’d expect for a marketing role before “HTML” showing up in that last list of bullet points reserved for things they want but feel greedy requiring.

And code is easier than ever to tackle. There are dozens of great ways to learn, practicing was never easier, you can edit code right in your browser, and it may just help you land that next gig.

About Gregg & SlopeFillers
I've had more first-time visitors lately, so adding a quick "about" section. I started SlopeFillers in 2010 with the simple goal of sharing great resort marketing strategies. Today I run marketing for resort ecommerce and CRM provider Inntopia, my home mountain is the lovely Nordic Valley, and my favorite marketing campaign remains the Ski Utah TV show that sold me on skiing as a kid in the 90s.

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