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Posts Tagged ‘seth godin’

Marketers and Technical Folks…Living Happily Ever After

Monday, October 13th, 2008

I’ve spent most of my career marketing for technology companies.  I still chuckle when I remember the old Saturday Night Live skits about the IT guy, Nick Burns (played by Jimmy Fallon), who always had to fix someone’s computer, and it was usually something minor.  One skit involved someone in the marketing department that didn’t know what they were doing on their computer.  Impatient Nick instructed the marketer to get out of his chair with the famous “MOVE!” so he could fix the issue rather than trying to troubleshoot the problem with him.  Seth Godin put it best – “Different people have very different agendas.  The key in understanding someone’s actions is understanding their agenda.” 

Marketers and technical folks often run into challenges, and in the end it comes down to having different agendas.  Marketers and technical folks need to communicate more openly – learn about each others’ agendas – and realize they have common goals of achieving success for their organization. 

What are the challenges between these two distinct groups that often cause them to butt heads and what do you do about it?  Here are some insights and pointers I’ve learned along the way.

Marketers create the brand perception and recognition; technical folks think they already know it.

It’s amazing how many times products have been developed without much customer feedback.  Techies feel they know what customers want, build it and then tell marketers to go out and tell the world about it.  Often it turns out that these products aren’t very user friendly in the real world. 

I have been involved in numerous product development meetings where I’ve seen demos and wondered, “How in the world are users going to know what to do with this thing?”  As a user, I’ve been able to contribute feedback that has been implemented into the products.  I’ve convinced technical folks that although the product has a lot of benefits, unless these products are intuitive and easy to use, they won’t be a success.

Marketers argue “customers won’t want to use this” while techies are convinced “they want it, they just don’t know it yet.”

Technology folks often feel marketing people don’t understand the product well enough to communicate its benefits.  That’s been a fun time for me.   I’ve been told by technology folks in my early years that marketing is “just fluff.”   Try to convince someone like that about the true value of marketing! Usually I will test the product (as a user) and communicate the challenges from my perspective in the way they understand it – documents with bullet points of exactly what I tested, results and recommendations for making the product more user-friendly.   I realize I may be lucky to even be involved in this process compared to organizations where products are created under lock and key away from the marketing department.  I have earned the rights to barge into product development, but it wasn’t without a fight.  Remember, not all organizations have product managers – marketing’s only hope of learning about upcoming products and features. 

What’s a marketer to do?
OK, so there are a couple of challenges between these two strong-minded groups.  We got that.  How do we do our jobs, co-exist and even develop warm and fuzzy relationships between each other? Well let me tell you how I’ve been able to do it.  To date there has only been one way for me.

Make marketing “technical!”
On-line marketing has quickly evolved, and marketers are now able to track marketing efforts better than ever.   Having the luxury of working for a marketing technology company, I can say I’ve become a marketing geek.  I have used on-line marketing in conjunction with traditional marketing efforts to measure marketing programs much more effectively and present data to technical folks that they can use.  For example, through the use of email marketing and surveys, I’ve collected and tracked product feedback that can be communicated back to product development; anything from new feature suggestions to existing features that are hard to figure out.  Another example is working with my technology group doing A/B Testing – testing variable elements of email campaigns to see which produce the best results.  Collecting and reporting measurable results helps bridge the gap between marketers and techies.  Most importantly, it helps techies realize the true value of marketing and why organizations can’t survive without it! 

Marketers and techies can co-exist and learn from each other.  In the end, always keep in mind that despite the differences between these two groups, there is one common goal – customer satisfaction.  If you keep your eye on the prize, you will realize technology folks aren’t much different at all. 

Have you had similar experiences in your organization?  I would love to hear about it!

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Marketing Roundup - Seth Godin - A Dumb Branding Strategy

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

In “A Dumb Branding Strategy,” Seth Godin warns about choosing your company name, which plays a big part of branding strategy. Companies like Party Land and Computer World are meaningless because they don’t add value and are too generic to really stand out. Plus, if you’re not careful what you name your company and you become successful, it’s hard to prevent competitors from copying you. Lesson learned, think smart when naming your company.

Lori A. Rochino - With over 7 years of marketing communications experience, Lori has worked in a variety of industries, including finance, publishing, and fashion. She is currently a marketing specialist at an e-commerce firm and manages web content for the AMA Boston Chapter. She resides in Natick with her husband.

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The views and opinions on this blog are solely those of the contributors and do NOT necessarily reflect the official opinions of the Boston Chapter of the American Marketing Association.