Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Good Programmers Don't Need No Marketing (fairsoftware.net)
41 points by alain94040 on July 9, 2009 | hide | past | web | favorite | 21 comments

flagged for misleading title. I don't want to be lied to before I even click the link. be honest, say, "Good programmers need marketing too." Do I really want to take advice from someone who is marketing their blog with a lie? This is why "good programmers" don't like marketing -- a lot of it is lies.

What good programmers need is honest marketing. What real programmers need is to learn how they can remain honest, communicate effectively with their customers, and still sell the product.

I've seen this so many times in so many organizations. The sales and marketing team write up a bunch of lies and tell the potential customers anything they need to hear to get the deal and then the programmers are put in a position to have to do impossible things. The sales people don't even know what they are selling.

If a lead asks a sales guy if product x can do function y, they say "Yes." This answer is given without regard to whether or not product x actually can do function y.

Where is the balance?

The programmers lose on the sales side, because they think the customer wants the truth and sometimes the truth is, "I don't know." Or "No, product x doesn't do function y, but if you buy product x, we'll implement function y just for you." Unfortunately, that makes the customer think the product is unfinished or hasn't been well thought out. The reality is that there are myriad functions that product x doesn't do, but can do easily but no one else has asked for it or needed it, so product x engineers focus on other things.

So that's what the programmers do, they focus on other things besides sales and marketing, they focus on making their product do whatever their customers ask them for, but every new potential customer wants the product to do some little other thing so it's an endless cycle.

What programmers need is to know how to market effectively. How to sell honestly. How to close deals.

They don't need to be lied to anymore than the customer does.

" I don't want to be lied to before I even click the link."

I think the word "lie" is a bit strong for your meaning. Misled, perhaps, or ill-advised.

Lying means to deliberately deceive. Whatever you think of the title, there is no reason to think the author is trying to deceive you.

flagged for misleading title: I'm sorry that you missed the satirical aspect of the title, but the expression "don't need no" should have been a clear giveaway.

In a world where jquery is about rock stars and rails is about porn stars, nothing is a clear giveaway anymore.

The only change I'd recommend is quotation marks around the title.

I'm sympathetic to your concerns about deception.

On the other hand, I think the title is a demonstration of the need sometimes to be "edgy" or humorous/ironic... especially with something like headlines.

And, yes, your point is well-taken that that is probably not a direction where programmers are likely to head. ...even when catching the attention of other types (potential customers) might call for it. Hence the value to programmers of outsourcing the marketing process. IMHO.

It was correct, if you take into account the double-negative.

This is so called irony not a "lie". See http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/irony

In a very small business (start-up), it can even be dangerous to treat development and marketing as 2 different things. I get scared by advice like, "Devote x hours per day to marketing..."

Better would be to morph marketing and development into one by maintaining intimate contact with your market as you develop your product. You end up building what they want and have a head start on your sales cycle when you're ready to release.

maintaining intimate contact with your market as you develop your product: totally agree in principle. In practice, I know too many developers who let their introverted side take over. Everytime they have the choice between coding one more feature or interacting with live users, they choose to type...

How do you fix that?

"How do you fix that?"

Not by fighting the urge to type, but by feeding it.

You mention "coding one more feature". Where did that feature come from, you or your users? If you consider "intimate contact with your market" as a box on a flow chart that provides input into "features to code", any self-respecting geek would understand how important it is as a critical step in the dev process.

"Intimate contact with your market" is just as important for development as it is for marketing. Don't allow yourself to play the introvert card when pieces of the puzzle are still missing.

The problem is that the people in this world that are both great at marketing and great at coding can probably be counted on one hand.

Doesn't mean you aren't right and people shouldn't try though.

True. Which is why a team with a great coder and a great marketer (Steve Wozniak & Jobs come to mind) is the best approach.

However, a great coder can probably get away with being a decent marketer. I just think that it's the extreme case of genius coder + clueless marketer that is a killer.

In other words, you need both a Jobs and a Woz.

Even in the rare case where one singular talent is both a brilliant sales man and a brilliant technologist, he is probably better off focusing on one and finding a partner to handle the other, just because there are only so many hours in a day. At the same time, it is still a good idea for the sales person to understand the product and for the product person to understand the customer.

"And I don’t mean read the Web to learn about SEO." Like you want to do marketing the old way, print ads or something? Without SEO there is no online marketing, Without the Web your marketing will fail in 2009.

Poorly consructed sentence. The emphasis should have been: "I don't mean read the web to learn about SEO". Reading is a passive activity. You can read all day long, you will learn a lot, but you still won't have accomplished any of the useful marketing activities of engaging with your users, key influencers and so on.

Of course SEO is useful and the web is a must. But you must write, not just read.

You mean practice SEO. You can't "write SEO".

I totally agree!

I coach a few startups and the gap between having a good technical product and having a successful company is huge. Engineers can design great things, but as the saying goes: if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound :-)

Then again: if you build it, they will come.

I'm going just to quote Peep Show as a response to that: Jeremy: "If you build it, they will come". That's my market research. Mark: Field of Dreams? A man who builds a baseball field in his backyard for ghosts? That's your role model?

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact