Having come from the marketing world, I’m the first to say that when evaluating marketing technology, I relied heavily on input from the development team. Not only do I respect their opinion (naturally) but as much as I’d love to be, I’m not a technologist. In sourcing out new marketing technology, both teams had to provide input in the process.
Now working in the CMS space, I've worked with tons of teams over the years. I enjoy helping them reflect and navigate their own needs as well as the vast MarTech landscape. Conversations with marketing teams and development teams, though, couldn't be more different.
The Tug of War
Of course we all want to win: Kenneth Burke, Marketing Director of Text Request, says “Most of the time, our effort to find and implement new tech is rooted in sales or marketing, but will also make our developers lives easier. We certainly don't want to make their lives more difficult!”
It’s always the goal to make both parties happy. In all of my conversations with many different teams, there’s a clear set of criteria that both marketing and development teams need to meet. On the surface, those couldn’t seem more opposite. Marketing teams almost always want an intuitive UI, manageability, and flexibility; developers want extendability, scalability, and security. These aren’t mutually exclusive needs. But, generally speaking, they fall into these categories.
In fact, these needs overlap more than what’s perceived at first glance. It’s as important to the marketing team to implement technology that is secure, scales well, and integrates with other technologies in their marketing stack. Developers also value intuitive UI, technology that is manageable, and doesn’t impede their efforts.
The Language Barrier
Even though there's a mutual understanding of needs, teams often talk past each other. Being the neutral party, I see this all the time.
Patrick Chukwura, Co-Founder of Kuia, says it’s crucial for developers to express their opinions when evaluating new software. “Developers have to understand technical nuisances of the tool, integrate it with other marketing tools and internal company databases, and they often have to tweak settings or build some code to get the tool just right for their team. If the development team isn't involved in the decision - we often see the marketing tool is underutilized.” This is absolutely true.
In my experience and in talking to many teams looking for new MarTech, I've learned something. Marketing tends to listen much more to developers' evaluations than the reverse for one reason: a language barrier. 99% of the time, the marketing team doesn’t "speak tech," so they feel forced to trust developers' judgment.
That puts a lot of power in developer's hands to influence a MarTech purchase.
I should clarify this is not a bad thing– IF developers are as mindful of marketing’s needs as they are of their own.
The (Accidental) Sabotage
First, to lay a foundation, most MarTech sits on a spectrum of developer or marketing-centric. It's advertised as such.
Wading through the muddy MarTech waters is the same walk every time. I see the development team derail a conversation to techno-babble that makes the marketing team uncomfortable, followed by a "we need this requirement met" that the marketing team doesn't really understand.
Calling this section "The Sabotage" is purposeful, though almost never mindfully done by developers. It's a tale as old as time. The dev team pushes for choosing a tool as they think it's better because it suits their needs, without truly consulting marketing. Big no-no.
Ultimately, making choices in MarTech that are more developer-centric can hurt. Every team is different, so by no means does one size fit all. But the point of MarTech is the first word: marketing. Choosing developer-centric MarTech tools requires:
- Marketers to ask developers to get things done (nearly every single time).
- Clogs pipeline of tasks.
- Doesn't empower the marketing team to do their job.
- Unnecessarily puts developers in the position to do marketing work.
- Can become more costly in time, budget, resources, etc.
- Doesn't empower developers to focus on their job (developing, not marketing).
... and more.
Developers, marketers are working with you to make you happy, but please keep their needs in mind. Marketers rely on you to help them choose robust technology that will also work for you. However, MarTech needs to empower the marketer as much as it empowers the developer. Keeping this in mind will ensure investments in technology and minimize turnover for years to come.
This will help keep organizations happy and successful in the long run. Samantha Stone Avneri, Director of Marketing at RegPacks, says “Ultimately marketing is what is driving our business forward and more importantly, growing our business - and so we are choosing other tools and technologies to use to support our marketing based on the direct needs of the marketing team and whatever the budget allows.” In describing her relationship with the development team, Sam states “[Our CTO] is of the opinion that whatever tools and resources I NEED to get the job done is the most important factor for any new tech we bring in.” That’s the kind of attitude developers and marketers need to have to collaborate and bring in new tech to win.