What marketers can learn from software developers

Marketing and software development seem worlds apart. They're closer than you might think.

Young woman writing on whiteboard, outlinging software development user feedback loops.
Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng / Unsplash

Marketing and software development might seem worlds apart. One deals with creativity and behavioral economics, the other with zeros and ones. There are of course developers who are brilliant marketers, and many marketers are more than capable of articulating the value of highly technical concepts.

Is there anything one can learn from the other? In my experience marketing open source software to developers, there's quite a lot. To start, marketing teams can learn from the way software developers organize their work.

In a prior role I had the privilege of marketing an open source software project globally. Coming from the entertainment industries prior, along with co-founding a book packaging startup, technology marketing was a new and exciting experience.

I noticed that engineering teams met regularly each morning for 10-15 minutes to discuss their work. Speaking with an engineering director, he introduced me to the basics of agile development, sprint planning, and stand-ups.

This made a lot of sense to me as a marketer. The market is so dynamic and integrated tactical planning beyond 12-months is pointless (especially in a startup). Breaking quarterly goals into sprints seemed like an effective way to maintain growth momentum.

Which is how a 15-minute stand-up and sprint planning is now part of how I run marketing teams.

The benefit of this methodology was realized during the COVID-19 pandemic. With an already distributed marketing team, and everyone working from home, a daily sprint check-in meant that we did not skip a beat.

Discussing open task progress and any blockers putting critical delivery timelines at risk kept everyone aligned. More importantly, this process had a material impacted on the team's sense of comradery and belief in our shared purpose.

Given the massive stresses to everyone at the time, this last benefit cannot be understated. Especially as so many marketing teams now work remote from each other.

If you're a marketer and would like to learn more about running a stand-up, Dan Radigan at Atlassian wrote an excellent post explaining how they "help uncover blockers and strengthen your agile team."

What is a Stand Up Meeting? [+ Expert Tips] | Atlassian
Discover how Atlassian masters daily scrum to keep software teams agile, focused, and free from blockers. Make your stand-ups stand out!