Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Colliding worlds: Development and Marketing

During my career in the software industry I've worked in both marketing departments and in development labs. Now, as a technical advocate, I'm part of the development organisation but I work with marketing.

As a software developer my first reaction to any kind of marketing information, no matter who it comes from,  is that it is likely to be junk.  I wouldn't feel this way if I felt the material was aimed at me and was telling me about tools or products that would help me. But all too often it isn't. And yet, whose fault is that? We, as developers, can't expect marketing to 'just know' about cool stuff we are working on.

Really, development and marketing should talk to each other. And now we do - a little bit :-)

To illustrate the issues for both sides, this is the story of trying to create a marketing message that both organisations were happy with.  We were trying to find an illustration to go with the phrase "Turning developers into superheroes", this was the starting proposal from my marketing colleagues:

What's wrong with that? Seriously, just about everything. This might work if the caption was "Turning salesmen into superheroes".  No developer I know would come to work dressed like that - well, the cape maybe, but the shirt and tie? Forget it.

Development's counter proposal for the image was this:

Somewhat predictably, my colleagues in marketing issued an immediate veto. Underwear on display is apparently unacceptable even if it's worn over the top of other clothes and other underwear is being worn underneath. Actually I don't know that other underwear was being worn underneath, I'm not on that kind of terms with the model. Although I can safely assert that he is, in fact, a real developer.


I spent the weekend 'gimping up' the aforementioned unmentionables and came up with this:

However, I never got to  show it to marketing because they produced this:

which I  like a lot. The use of a QR code was a great idea and the guy doesn't look like a salesman. The image is a bit more "Incredible Hulk" than "Superman" but it works fine.  I'm really happy with this outcome, I think that we've got a much better result by working across an organisational boundary than either of us could have achieved on our own.

Next challenge - depict the benefits of Enterprise OSGi  in the style Marvel comics :-) I will be SpiderWoman.

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