Marketing is as foreign to most software developers as flying is to fish. We’ve found a list of ten truths of marketing, and we’re secretly sharing them with the developers who hang out here. Shhh. Don’t tell anyone in marketing.
John Dodds wrote Marketing 101 For Geeks, where he shares 10 observations about marketing that might make sense to geeks and coders.
Here’s John’s list with our comments:
- Marketing is not a department. A great way to segue into the conversation – as an engineer, the first visual I always have of a marketing department is the one from Dilbert (Scott Adams draws marketing people as if they are at a perpetual cocktail party).
- Marketing is a conversation.* This is hard for developers. Conversation requires two-way communication. That’s a truth. But good marketing pre-empts questions and answers them. Imagine the reader having a conversation with your copy (marketing materials): “I wonder what this is?” “oh.” “I wonder how we could use that?” “oh. cool.” “where can I get it?”
- Simplicity does not negate complexity. A clear, easy to understand message is what coders might call “incomplete,” “over-simplifying,” or “simplicistic.” The secret that marketers keep to themselves is that this clear message is what opens the door – making it possible for customers to (eventually) understand and appreciate the power of a product that might be described with greater complexity.
- Think what? not how?. As cool as it might be that your search engine uses a trie data structure, what potential customers care about is the fact that you can search a billion documents in a tenth of a second. This secret seems to be the reverse of a simple definition of geek – “someone who cares about how it works more than what it does.”
- Think will not can. Featuritis is the condition of having too many features. Even the swiss army knife eventually became too large to slip in your pocket. We have to focus on what users need to do, and not everything that could possibly be done.
- Only you RTFM. Think about the obvious ways to use a product. Intuititive user interfaces have affordances. They don’t require people to read the manual. And the manual should be written to help people accomplish their goals- not as a description of the functionality.
- Technical support is marketing. Every touch-point with a customer is a marketing opportunity. Remember, we market not just by purchasing ads and putting up booths at conventions. We market by word of mouth.
- You’re not marketing to people who hate marketing. Remember the disdain you had when you started reading this list? Well, we’re not marketing to people who hate marketers. People want to know how to solve their own problems. They want to know how they can use our products to help. And they like the people who tell them.
- You’re not marketing to people who hate technology products. The people who get our message are the ones who are technology-agnostic (see #4 above). They neither love nor hate the product. But they love solutions.
- Marketing Demystifies. Remember the conversation from #2? As the conversation progresses, we enlighten our customers, and eventualy they develop an understanding of what they can do with our product. And from this, they develop a desire to buy our product.
Don’t let them know, but we’re on our way to understanding how this stuff works.