It’s time to stop hating on marketecture

It’s time we stop hating on marketecture.

For those of you unfamiliar, marketecture (a portmanteau of marketing + architecture) was originally defined as “any form of electronic architecture perceived to have been produced purely for marketing reasons.”  However, it has grown into a more general derisive term used to describe semi-technical diagrams.

Here are a few examples of marketecture.

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People who dislike marketecture criticize it for being lightweight, not technical enough, and slide fodder. They want real technologists explaining real technologies in a really technical way.

But I’m here to speak up for marketecture. First off because it’s part of my job to create it, and also because I’m a real technologist explaining real technology in a really technical way.

The thing is this – the right way to teach someone something new, about a new system, or process, or (dare I say) architecture, is breadth-first.

A small detour into search algorithms, but don’t tune out – this won’t be too painful, even if you’re not technical.

There are two categories of how computers search for things. As an analogy, think of how you might attack a crossword puzzle. Let’s say you fill in a word, “PRODUCE”. The first thing you probably do after that is start trying to fill in the word that crosses with the P in PRODUCE.  Let’s say that’s the word “PACKAGE.”  But what do you do after that? Do you try to fill in the other words perpendicular to PRODUCE? That’s breadth-first. Or do you try to fill the word that crosses the A in PACKAGE? That’s depth-first.

So going back to marketecture, I would put forth that we learn (and should teach) breadth-first: Here’s the entirety of the thing I’m going to explain to you, next, let’s zoom in one level and examine that next.

And that’s what marketecture is great at: breadth-first explanations. Here’s an overview of the concept/process/system. It doesn’t depict every detail at every level. It’s not complete, but it’s not inaccurate. Think of a block diagram for a CPU, or a diagram of the human circulatory system, or of the electrical wiring of a skyscraper. Not complete, but not inaccurate.

I’ll also add this completely unscientific study of every presentation I’ve ever delivered. When I’ve been asked to skip or hurry through the marketecture slides, I am invariably peppered with questions 4-7 minutes later that were addressed in my marketecture slide.  When someone is texting through the beginning of my presentation, their first set of questions once we’re into the technical depth is invariably marketecture content.  And when someone is looking over my shoulder to find someone more “technical” to talk to at a tradeshow, their questions are always, always, covered in my marketecture diagram.

Just like it’s time to stop trivializing marketing, it’s time to stop hating on marketecture.

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