James Governor's Monkchips

Developer as Marketer – see Twilio

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RedMonk is all about developers. We try and help people understand how the world is changing, as developer influence becomes ever more significant in business and IT. We have many clients that work with us to try and understand developers better. If we help these clients serve developers better, they will in turn be more effective in building successful platforms. But traditional marketing disciplines can be particularly ineffective in attempting to appeal to a geek audience.

As I posted on Monday – A big merge is the only press release your open source project needs.

But of course, marketing isn’t a one way process. While devs might not like more widely appreciated marketing disciplines, those very disciplines can be extremely useful in building engagement and buzz outside core developer community audiences. Donnie recently wrote a post entitled Developers OR marketers? Nah, developers ARE marketers.

Today Jose Valles from Telefonica tweeted something extremely germane to the discussion – a view from the trenches from Rob Spectre, a coder who joined Twilio as a developer evangelist so that he could test himself, learning some of the, he thought, soft skills needed to become an effective CEO when he runs his own firm.

So what did A Hacker Learn After A Year In Marketing?

1) This Shit Is Hard

“As it turns out, the ones who do it well are rare and far less visible because – like good programmers – their work is a lot harder to notice. Good marketing is a product of the same inputs as good code; long hours, sweating the details, and the judicious application of experience doing it the right way.”

2) Data Wins Arguments

“Marketing data shows in stark relief what works and what doesn’t and – especially when working on the Internet – is readily available if you spend a little effort trying to find it. Folks with a technical background excel at such, and wielding that power in this discipline can yield very powerful results, if less powerful buzzwords.”

3) Calendar Management Is A Skill

” I must have run up and down Manhattan every day the first month I was at Twilio. I’d set a meeting at 42nd and Broadway next to one at Fulton and Church with 15 minutes in between. I’d double and triple book in email, leaving two or three of the parties asking where the hell I was. This function that had always been a nuisance in my life was now a critical skill and I found out I sucked at it.

Took a long while to learn. I’m still not very good at it.”

4) You Can Learn To Schmooze

Ask people what they are working on, always treat them not as a means but an end, and be your authentic, flawed, fully present self. Nearly every human you meet will respond kindly. And those who don’t, you just don’t have to worry about.

It’s hard, but so is learning Erlang. And just like you cringe when you revisit the first Post-Nuke you ever built, so too will you when you recall your first attempts at building your interpersonal skills.

5) The Impact You Can Make Is Huge

“Just a little encouragement at the right moment helped a team build something of which they are rightfully proud and serve some people who needed it. The satisfaction I got from watching that squad’s product blow up on the news was immense.”

Rob’s Bottom Line –

Good marketing is tough to do, good programming is tough to do

The post is excellent, and you should read it whether or not you’re a developer that is is marketing curious, or a marketer that is hacker curious. Its ever more important that developers learn how to break bread with marketers, because they are increasingly the folks that are commissioning new apps. Developers are the new Kingmakers, so the marketers need you, but the relationship needs to be symbiotic. Disdain is not a good basis for partnership.

And we can learn new skills.  Meanwhile Spectre now looks more investable, doesn’t he, and that’s something both sides of the house understand.


THANKS to Riss at Build A Beard for the awesome photo (let me know if using was a problem), which indicates Rob may already have some advanced self promotion skills 😉


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