A Programmer Joins the Dark Side (Marketing!)

We came across a post this week too good not to share.

What a Hacker Learns After A Year In Marketing” is fascinating on a variety of levels. One, it’s a great personal story. Two, it almost certainly applies in your company. And three, it gives insight into our company and what it’s like at a tech startup.

The World According to a Punk Rock Technolologist (not a typo) — his story

That’s how Rob Spectre describes himself. He also describes himself — or would have up to a year ago, anyway — as a programmer. But not just any old programmer; rather, he was a programmer who wanted the CEO role at his own startup. In his words:

I came around to the notion I could make a greater contribution to that endeavor by pushing the vision and the culture rather than the technology and architecture.  I didn’t want to be the technical co-founder – I wanted to run the circus.

But before that could happen, he wanted to beef up his sales and marketing skills. So he took a year’s position at Twilio as a “developer evangelist” and learned a whole bunch of stuff in the process. The short version:

  1. Marketing is hard.
  2. Persuasion is hard.
  3. Calendar management is hard.
  4. Schmoozing is hard.
  5. Your impact can be huge.

You’ll find the full post at http://brooklynhacker.com/post/29901112213/what-a-hacker-learns-after-a-year-in-marketing.

Why your company should care — your story

Unless you’re a one-person operation, you’ve dealt with employees/coworkers who don’t fully understand what goes into being successful in department A, department B, department C, etc. (Heck, even if you’re a one-person operation, your left hand doesn’t always appreciate what your right hand is doing.)

Lisa, Windward’s own Queen of the Dark Side.

The gulf gets even more intense when one department is IT and the other is marketing. You know the stereotypes — IT is a bunch of egocentric, antisocial geeks; marketing is a group of frivolous, flaky liars.

This article blows up those stereotypes. Forward it through your company and you’re bound to get some lively discussion going, not to mention maybe better appreciation across the board.

Behind the scenes at Windward — our story

As a software company, our marketing and IT departments work very closely together. In one direction, marketing helps get the word out about what our software does. It works in the other direction, too. Marketing learns what resonates with users and passes that valuable knowledge to the development group.

So for us, it’s extra important that marketing and IT have good communication and that each department understands the challenges the other one faces. Otherwise we’d have been out of business a long time ago.

The universal “their job is easy” — my story

Finally, a personal anecdote. I’m a freelance writer and a few years back was chatting in an airport with a woman who was flying to the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference. Excited to meet another potential freelancer, I asked if she was a writer.

Oh no, she replied, I’m not a writer. I work for a living.

Ouch. As if there’s no work involved in being a writer.

No matter your coworker’s job description — marketer, tech geek, writer, etc. — “What a Hacker Learns After A Year In Marketing” is a great reminder that whatever what they do, doing it well is a lot harder than it looks from the outside.