In an earlier stint at a telecom start-up, I recall an interesting exchange between the marketing and engineering teams.
The marketing head walked up to the engineering head and declared, “Your product is clearly lacking when compared to competition. It has fewer features and is not disruptive enough.”
The engineer snapped, “You clearly don’t know how to pitch it right. And you might want to cut out the jargon.”
Many of us have been on one side or the other at some point. Marketing pushes for newer, more advanced features, while engineering has a different product roadmap in mind. We can’t contest the fact that for an organization to succeed, the marketing and engineering teams need to coexist.
So how can the yin and yang co-exist? Here are three things that can make for a more positive and harmonious relationship. And yes, these would work well in any team set-up.
Junk the jargon
Let us give a break to the “disruptive”, “game-changer”, or “revolutionary” product. Nothing works like plain speak, and more so when there are two sets of people coming from entirely different contexts. Those catch phrases may sound good in a brochure (that’s for another blog post soon) or might make you sound like a technology expert, but they make for a very painful work interaction. You end up miscommunicating, the real insights get lost and the larger picture gets buried somewhere in the jargon.
That should be easy
“Can you just make this small tweak to the code so that the marketing team can use this to run that customer campaign today?”
Every engineer will tell you how difficult it is to make that one small tweak on the go. Sure, it is just about adding that one extra column or making the interface a ‘livelier’ color, but it takes time. And sometimes it means the whole interface has to be redesigned.
When asking for any engineering and product change it is best for the marketing team to assume that it is not easy and will take time. And yes, marketing brochures and product documents are more than pretty boxes. There is a lot of thought which goes into getting that one page which will make a compelling case for your product or offering. So assuming these can be churned in two days flat is not a reasonable assumption either.
Both sides win
Any good product or offering has to work well and solve a real world problem. It also has to be marketed well so that it can reach your target customer. When marketing teams decide to make engineering work on impractical ideas assuming the next blockbuster is round the corner, we are set for disaster. Similarly if engineering decides that just adding more and more complex features, which a customer might not even need, but is technically challenging, we have a problem in hand.
The decision making in any organization has to be democratic and driven by both teams. It’s not in the organisation’s best interest if just one team pushes the agenda. Let engineering and marketing do what they are best at doing, and finally play an equal role in the success of the product.