There is an interesting difference of opinion between developing your product and marketing it for a business. It is a highly symbiotic relationship in which one side cannot exist without the other. Marketing a product that has not been developed is pointless, and developing a product that is not marketed is a waste of resources (time, money, talent, etc.)
This difference in function often puts developers of a product naturally at odds with the marketing of those same products. There are multiple reasons for this phenomenon, but the unfortunate result is that business owners and founders of many startups focus 90% of their efforts on product development, and may pour resources into a potential money pit. When it comes to selling the product and making the money back, many developers who over focus on the efforts of creating the product, find they do not have an interested enough customer base, and the money has run out.
In this sense, many developers make for terrible marketers. There is a multitude of reasons for this. Here we talk about a few of the most prominent reasons.
A developer is all about the “hows” of a product. It is a great perspective to have on one hand because there is a heightened focus on developing the greatest versatility for a product. The developers believe in their mission to get the best product out there but rarely ask what is it that the customer of this product is looking for.
Many developers start their businesses by focusing entirely on product development, never really bothering to find out whether there is a market for it, or how wide that market is. There is a cognitive bias that comes into play: such as a great idea can’t possibly fail! But what seems like a useful idea to a developer, may not be a practical solution for enough potential customers, causing them to choose another product that more directly addresses the problem they are trying to solve.
That means that all of the development efforts are essentially squandered as the developers fail to remember that the point of the business is to sell the product. No matter how great the product is, selling it will be tough when either not enough interest exists for it or if not enough people know about it.
Chasing The Horizon
Developers may be entering a market with a product that many competitors have, and therefore have to distinguish how it is created or put together in some unique way. This is absolutely necessary, but many developers seek utter perfectionism. The product must not only function, but it must do all the extras the developer could conjure up.
This all comes from a good place, of course. Developers start seeing “too much” as “not enough” for how great the product should be. But developing a product that is perfect for any client is akin to trying to catch the elusive horizon. You will never please everyone, and if you don’t know whom you are aiming to reach with your product, you can’t possibly know which aspect of your product is one that potential customers actually find valuable.
When developers fail to probe and research the market and collect customer feedback, either before developing the product or after it has been on the market for some time, they do a disservice to their own efforts. Instead of validating the core idea of what makes the product appealing, and what customers actually want out of it, developers often go into perfectionist mode, trying to add features, bells & whistles, and in doing so, spend a lot more resources for an unproven set of ideas.
The Stigma Of Self-Promotion
Many developers are skittish when it comes to talking about their products. It’s an attempt to stay humble to a degree, but it hurts the ability of a product to actually achieve sufficient exposure in the market.
No one wants to be deemed a “blow-hard” who shamelessly promoted themselves or their product, so many developers focus their energy on improving and “beefing up” the product itself. This is by no means a bad or not an understandable perspective, but from a business viewpoint, how would one sell a product that they do not like talking about?
Marketing draws the attention of the customer precisely by engaging in product promotion. Talking about the product, after all, is the way to garner interest in it.
Getting All The Customers
The developers likely spent a lot of time and mental energy into coming up with the idea for a product, how to make it efficient, and distinguish it from competitions. It is no wonder then, that many developers think customers would be crazy not to seek this product out and purchase it as it would be a valuable solution to any problem they may be dealing with.
The classic error made by many developers is the lack of engagement in the market before the resources are spent on developing the product. Rather than being convinced that an idea will work, developers need to prove that it will work. It is easy to get lost in putting something out that you think is a fantastic product, but if you are in the minority of those who feel it is valuable, it will end up being a costly endeavor.