JCL Blog

Market Like an Engineer

It seems that every time I attend a presentation, usually at a conference, given by a Googler, it starts with the disclaimer "I am not a marketing person...". The narrative from there can devolve into a rif against the evils of sales and marketing people and the comparative virtues of engineers. Despite the hyperbole, they do have a point. Marketing without good engineering is just snake oil sales.

Here are three virtues of engineering that I appreciate the most:

  1. Desire to build a better mouse trap: Good engineers want to be useful and solve problems. Engineers don't want to work on something that is not really a problem, or that is invented just to serve some other purpose.

  2. Disdain for waste or duplication of effort: Engineers want to share their work so those that come after them can build on top of their efforts instead of wasting effort relearning what has already been learned by someone else. While this does not always result in good documentation, it does produce a collaborative atmosphere with vibrant knowledge sharing.

  3. Thirst for customer feedback: Engineers want to know as much as possible about the customer experience using their product. If you give engineers a choice between the good news (compliments) and the bad news (criticisms) they will take the bad news because it will help make the product better.

These traits are encouraged in engineering departments because most engineering departments are set up like academic institutions where sharing knowledge is rewarded and failures are celebrated as long as there is strong thinking behind them.

Marketing people that think like engineers apply these same virtues to their objectives. They want to get their product into the hands of people that can use it, they don't hoard data, and they want to know the real numbers.

The people running marketing departments need to think about how to create an environment that encourages marketers to market like engineers.