Nicole Silver

A New Idea for Marketers: Learn from Your Development Team

I spent most of last week at HubSpot’s Inbound conference in Boston. It was an inspiring series of speakers, presentations, and sessions with action items that I plan to implement at Kindling over the next few months. I left fired up about our marketing program and the ways to use HubSpot (and yes, I’ve already put the dates for next year’s Inbound conference in my calendar).

Do you remember the enthusiastic telemarketers who called around dinner time in the ‘90s announcing “This is a courtesy call from Company X”? When we were growing up, my brother and I used to call these interruptions “discourtesy calls” and as soon our family got callerID, we stopped answering them. The Do Not Call list limited this form of telemarketing in 2003, and Inbound highlighted that it’s not just telemarketing that’s over—we’re moving away from all unsolicited “interruption” marketing. Today’s consumers are accustomed to finding the information they want, when they want it, and Marketers need to use the data we can now collect about our customers to provide them with the right solution for their needs, formatted for the device of their choice.

Now that I’m back at Kindling thinking about our marketing strategy going forward, I’ve realized that this process of considering exactly what the user wants to see and when they want to see it is something that the rest of our company already does, and does very well. Our Design and Development team focuses on how users will experience the product, what sequence they will go through, which text descriptions will be most clear and persuasive, and how the product should look to keep users engaged. The instructions for how a user should create an account appear immediately when that user logs in for the first time, and only the first time they log in. These instructions clearly address the problem of “What now?” and lead the user to the next step. Thinking about the user is a critical and intuitive part of designing Kindling and all successful software products these days.

Maybe Marketers have a valuable lesson to learn from Design and Development teams, which are expanding and experiencing industry growth as the traditional marketing industry contracts. The foundation of traditional marketing is the Marketing Plan: a chronological outline of all of the steps and channels a Marketer will use to educate a candidate about the product. In contrast, many Design and Development teams are using Agile methodologies designed to enhance flexibility and quick response to changing needs. Our consumers are changing, and Marketers have to adapt to a more flexible system if we want to stay relevant.

Software developers are keeping their end users in mind, and consumers are using their products and driving growth of the industry. According to CNN Money’s annual jobs list, estimated 10-year job growth for software developers is 24.6%. In comparison, traditional marketing is nowhere to be found on the list, and many companies have dramatically cut their marketing budgets over the past few years. However, the same list includes Market Research Analysts, who identify and track consumer preferences and enable more targeted and flexible interactions, and estimates the role will see a 10-year job growth of over 40%.

Marketers and Developers have different skill sets and roles so the comparison isn’t perfect, but the point is that marketing is adapting to a reality that software designers and developers know already: it’s all about the user.

We, as Marketers at technology companies, and really at all companies, have something big to learn from the other side of the company. It’s not about telling our consumer about our product, but instead understanding consumers’ needs, how they want to interact with us, and how we can most clearly communicate with them.

Evolving Kindling’s marketing program will be an iterative process over the next few months, and I’m sure we’ll learn some lessons of what not to do as we learn what our prospects and customers do want to hear from us. That said, we are making a commitment to deliver solutions and share information prospects and customers want to see when they want to see it. We’re taking a step back, learning from our Design and Development team, and focusing on how users will experience our marketing.

Feel free to let us know how we’re doing!