Threads #5: Building the bridge between engineers and marketeers

Guest blog: Top tips from founders, to founders, on some of the best techniques to overcome communication barriers between different team
24th November 2017

As a founder you’d be mistaken in any belief that marketing happens retrospectively to shout about your great idea. Marketing helps share your vision, it asks and addresses questions, and lays the ground for a solution offering.

“Effective sales and marketing should be systematic, backed by end-to-end processes which are reasoned, proven and repeatable”

 

It’s important that you get the blend of engineering, operations, marketing and sales activity right, to arrive at a well-conceived product that people need and are pleased to hear about – and that you can deliver.

Here are some tips from the summer series of Threads meetups, helping you to understand how to get your marketing people working in harmony with your engineering and ops people:

Sales and marketing is a science and, just like operations and engineering, it should command equal rigour and status within your organisation.

Marketing brings your prospect to a point at which they feel ready to engage by giving them the data they need as they need it. Sales are based on your prospect knowing, liking and trusting your people or brand. The sales process can only begin when both parties are ready to talk about buying.

Both marketing and relationship development should continue thereafter. Marketing should ensure that the existing client base is taken with the business to the new position as repeat business is less costly than new.

Marketing focuses on perceptions and how to change them. Some perceptions are deep-rooted. For example, traditionally a ‘heavier’ product is assumed to be better quality and better engineered. Customer delight may come from adding unnecessary weight to meet an irrational expectation.

Marketing and ops/engineering should run seamlessly in parallel with no surprises as the result of teamwork and communication. It’s not necessary for these teams to like one another, but it is essential they trust when one says it can’t or mustn’t be done.

Value is an expectation based on a comparator and a level of trust. A common experience is the constant bombard of calls and emails from recruitment consultants. Hence the often-used opening statement ‘we are not like other recruitment consultants’ i.e. ‘you can trust me’. But businesses find it difficult to truly differentiate the recruiter’s range of services from the throwing of multiple candidates from a database ’til one sticks, through to the bespoke alternative hiring department experience.

“Positive internal perceptions among your team will be conveyed into external communications”

 

Marketing value comes from thinking differently and asking ‘why’ or ‘consider this’. The water glass in the Ashfords meeting room was chosen for reasons beyond just being an efficient way to hold water, otherwise we would all buy the same glass. The difference in thought may lead to creative fantasy or genuine insight. The Nintendo Wii came from the question ‘what do mothers want from a child’s electronic game?’.

Effective sales and marketing should be systematic, backed by end-to-end processes which are reasoned, proven and repeatable. There is a place for instinct too, provided it is evidence-based through prior experience.

Your first hire in marketing – whether in-house or outsourced – should be multi-skilled, with generalist capabilities spanning strategy, product development, technical marketing, branding, communications and process. You can augment these skills later, once you have momentum.

It is costly to build a product no-one needs or knows about. You will see benefit from embedding your technical marketing people amongst your ops/engineering functions who can then understand why ‘it must be green’ and sales and marketing can understand why their insistence on a particular shade of colour is the least of operations’ problems in delivering the product at all.

Consider the morale boost of refreshing the office, its seating plan, layout and decor. Cross-pollination of ideas and positive internal perceptions among your team will be conveyed into external communications.

It may be better to ‘no-bid’ than to price yourself out of a contract that you don’t want. Disclose your reasons constructively, illustrating what it would take for the project to become viable. This retains trust and leaves the prospect free to return in the future.

Begin with narrowcasting, as distinct from broadcasting, in your early social media activity. You aren’t shouting into the ether, you’re having an authentic human-to-human discussion. Your brand and values will inherently convey.

Threads meetups are a way for founders and department heads of technology companies to share learning, experiences and conundrums. These roundtable discussions unpack topics around leadership, business and operations. Most people find at least one improvement to take away and implement.

Threads is held at 6.30 – 8.30pm on the first Wednesday of each month. Its next meetup, on Wednesday 6 December, focuses in on finding your businesses barriers to growth and how to address them. To RSVP, head to the Threads South West meetup page

Keep an eye out for more Threads guest blogs coming to TechSPARK soon.