Donnie Berkholz's Story of Data

Developers OR marketers? Nah, developers ARE marketers.

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My fellow Monk James recently wrote a piece on developers versus marketers as customers for IBM, SAP, and Adobe (with the last of them shifting toward marketing). I’ve been thinking about it lately, and I coincidentally came across a link while reading the latest Coding Horror post. It’s about a 2008 interview with the inestimable Steve Yegge, a former Amazonian now at Google. When he talks, you’d better listen. He’s the same guy who wrote about Amazon’s internal shift toward mandatory API usage.

Here’s what Yegge said about developers and marketing:

If there was one thing I could teach every engineer, it would be how to market.

Hold on, what was that again? Marketing?! Stop the presses! One of the best developers out there has said that the most important thing every one of them needs to learn is not the latest hotness like Javascript, old-school languages like Lisp, or how to document their code, but marketing.

Marketing isn’t a dirty word. Jeff Atwood put it wonderfully:

  1. people understand what you’re doing
  2. people become interested in what you’re doing
  3. people get excited about what you’re doing

Steve Yegge gave a talk on the same topic at OSCON a few years back: “How to Ignore Marketing and Become Irrelevant in Two Easy Steps.” It’s at the top of this post; if you’re a developer, consider that video required viewing. If you’re not, it could give you a glimpse into how a great developer sees marketing.

The best examples of this in action are generally in open-source projects and startups, where there simply aren’t enough people to dedicate one to every role when things start out. Non-technical founders may need to learn to code, at least enough to prototype something interesting enough to recruit a developer. Technical founders, on the other hand, may need to learn the vast number of other tasks necessary to run a business.

This doesn’t mean all developers are marketers, or all marketers are developers. But both should be thinking and learning about the other side and the value it can provide — and in some cases, be willing and able to go it alone.

Disclosure: IBM, SAP, and Adobe are clients. Google and Amazon are not.


One comment

  1. […] SAP and Adobe conferences. Developers developers developers … marketers?” and “Developers OR marketers? Nah, developers ARE marketers” on the role of developers in championing technologies internally and […]

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