What marketers can learn from software developers

Marketing and software development might seem worlds apart. Here's how marketers can use sprint planning and stand-ups to win.

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 human psychology, the other with zeros and ones. There are of course developers who are brilliant marketers (Joakim Lindkvist at TinyMCE comes to mind), and many marketers are more than capable of understanding and articulating the value of the most technical concepts.

So, is there anything one can learn from the other? In my opinion, plenty! To start, marketing teams can learn from the way software developers organize their work.

To set the scene, for nearly five years I had the privilege of marketing an open source software project. Coming from the entertainment industries prior, along with co-founding a book packaging startup, technology marketing was far outside my comfort zone.

I noticed that the engineering teams met regularly each morning for 10-15 minutes to discuss their work-in-progress. Speaking with the 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 marketplace is so dynamic, and tactical marketing 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 all colleagues now work-from-home, a daily check-in on sprint progress and any blockers delaying critical tasks kept everyone aligned.

Perhaps more importantly, this process had a material impacted on the team's sense of comradery and belief in our shared purpose.

Sound interesting? If you 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."

Standups for agile teams | Atlassian
Learn how standups contribute to a healthy agile program and some tips and tricks for you and your team.
Learn more about agile development with Atlassian