When you have a hammer everything is a nail. Imagine you are a developer (or higher form being – a hacker). Every problem is a script or a tool or a side project you can build (including marketing or sales problems). That’s because that’s how developers think. Which is awesome since the focus is on creating something “useful” that prospects will use. When you can develop a tool or a script which consumer / customers can use instead of just read or consume you engage them more actively.
The next two decades (and quite possibly beyond) is all about being an engaging marketer.
So how does one become a marketer that “engages” their audience or consumer?
Some background: For the longest time, marketing meant advertising. So the “ad guy” who was a two-martini lunch, cigar smoking, creative director would come up with this brilliant “idea” and execute the TV ad, Print Ad and Radio ad. Accolades will follow. The ad campaigns that bomb would be forgotten.
The trouble with TV, radio and newspaper is that they are “passive” mediums for the consumer / user. They are recipients of marketing messages or propaganda.
Consumers were required to consume useful content (sitcoms, music, news) and interruption content (ads) with not much ability to ignore the interruption content.
Then came the Internet. Suddenly the consumer was more “active”. They were not waiting and passively looking at what was being fed, but were active in seeking useful content and equally active in ignoring interruption content. Note I am not saying useless content (some ads are useful, but they still are an interruption).
To actively engage a consumer or user, you have multiple choices but the biggest of those right now is gaming. This includes useful consumer tools, games, contests, polls, etc.
Although “content marketing” is being touted as a key part of inbound marketing, it is still “passive”. Content marketing is no different than newspapers. Imagine content strategy = editorial calendar, content producers = editors and content = news / editorial.
Here are some examples of how developers are building marketing tools by adding value to their prospect / consumer / user.
a) Website Grader tool is a useful tool, (but very complicated) that tells you how good your website is on multiple factors. (link)
b) Look at many opensource versions of hosted products (one of the companies I have invested in Plivo is an example) which are “free” to use and still provide marketing. (link)
c) Free starter versions of hosted products (such as Mailchimp) are also a form of marketing.
I could give you a lot more examples, but you get the point.
Developers need to think about their user / consumer, figure out what tool they can build which will make their life user’s easier and still keep their users engaged (as opposed to passive observers).
This is absolutely easier said than done, but its an easier bridge to cross than getting a “marketer” to build tools.