Only Happens with Marketing

The important and intimate relationship between marketing and engineering is finally getting the attention that it rightly deserves.

Or, to be more specific, more and more people (especially technical folks) understand that they need marketing to ensure that the very thing that they’ve spent years building can be ultimately appreciated by waiting customers.


via Dilbert

And I know this better than most because I’ve spent my career building technical products, sometimes really big and sometimes really small.

All sizes of products require consistent marketing efforts and I’ve gone as far as suggesting that early-stage companies (and especially indie, side projects) need 50% of their time dedicated to engineering and the other 50% of time spent communicating out the story, the narrative, and building relationships with (future) customers.

Two things: The first is that the 50/50 rule, which I’ve liberally borrowed from Marc Andreessen, does, in fact work. The second thing is that it’s incredibly-difficult to see in the moment and while you’re doing it, especially in the beginning.

But something that’s been very satisfying to experience over the last year while building a much bigger product (and company) is that our commitment and decision to start marketing from Day #1 has really paid off as well, but in different ways.

For starters, we don’t have a public product for anyone to purchase quite yet so marketing has been more of an effort to build awareness, create some light branding, share with our future customers our progress, and to build excitement and gain critical feedback via early customer surveys, polls, and more.

Another net-positive outcome has been the fact that folks from all places are reading our content, including venture capitalists and potential financial partners. Many have referenced our work and blog posts during the due diligence phase and it’s been a huge part of our ever-growing go-to-market initiatives that we’ll deploy this year.

So this “marketing thing” can “bring home the bacon” in many more ways that just customers. That’s been a really neat outcause and a new invaluable, empirical learning.

Thus marketing forms an intimate relationship between engineering and customers (of all shapes and sizes, including capital partners) that can’t be a last resort strategy. We must execute just as much in this area as we do in all the other areas as well.

I’d even go as far as suggesting that a founder of a new venture and especially an early staffer or employee have this tightly designed into their DNA. A great product isn’t anything without customers and that only happens with marketing.

So get to it.