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Discussion on: Do Software Developers Hate Marketing?

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Stephanie Morillo Author

Marketing talks to users. Developers talk with users.

That's one way of looking at it! At the risk of sounding pedantic, it's more nuanced than that. The truth is good marketing does both; marketing should talk to users and customers, and many marketers do this. They do this to better understand the problem space and to come up with messaging that lets a user know: "This is my problem and [product] will address it." But to your point, this isn't a constant thing; some teams talk to users only sporadically or use a proxy for the user (like a developer advocate) instead of finding opportunities to learn from users continuously.

But beyond that, talking to users isn't an activity limited to marketing. Product teams are also responsible for helping marketing derive value propositions whenever a new product or feature is built. And this makes sense because product managers are closer to the customer voice and the implementation than marketing is. Marketers aren't, and shouldn't be, subject matter experts in the product. What they do need to be is conversational in the domain space where they work and great listeners, observers, and interviewers so they can extract the information from SMEs that will resonate with their audience.

I definitely agree with you on this: "If you don't convey the why of features, new users will create expectations which don't hold up." Value propositions should not be a simple rattling off of features. This is due to lots of problems, though, and some I've listed in my responses to other folks: communication breakdowns between teams, not enough conversations with the user, underlying pressures to grow at the expense of everything else. But it may surprise you to know that this is not something limited to professional marketers; developers who have created their own products have done the same mistake. In the past, I was a freelance copywriter who worked with dev shops and small developer-led B2B companies. Many of their mistakes were the exact kinds of marketing mistakes that turned off developers, and they weren't aware why their messages weren't landing. Doing marketing well is actually really hard; it takes a lot to master and it's not enough to say "This is bad" or "We don't like this"; we have to articulate the "why". The good news is there are many examples out there and phenomenal developer marketers and product marketers who are doing this well. And the same goes for developers who decided to study as much about marketing as they could in order to do it the right way. :)