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Marketing Sucks! Or Does It?

John Braat

Jonathan Braat / October 7, 2022 โ‹… 5 min read

I have had a somewhat negative mindset towards marketing. It seemed like only sleazy sales people are the ones doing it. This is how I changed my mindset.

You may know this feeling when you enter a store to buy something specific. An employee comes up to you asking if they can help you with anything... If you are like me, you will instinctively say "No thanks, I'm just looking"...

EVEN if you actually don't know where the item you want to buy is located in the store, and a little help would have been nice.

We are basically conditioned to have an aversion towards sales people. In modern media, they are often portrayed as deceptive and manipulating. Just think of the stereotypical car salesman.

It's not surprising we often have a difficult time imagining ourselves doing sales or marketing just for that reason. Additionally, software engineers aren't exactly known as outgoing.

In this article I want to talk about the mindset towards marketing and sales. Specifically from the perspective of a software developer.

Optimally, I want to incite a small mindset shift, and motivate you to put your product in front of people without feeling like the stereotypical salesman.

Is marketing manipulative in itself?

Ok. We somewhat established there is a general sentiment against sleazy salesmen. We are sick of false promises and incomplete information.

It often feels like they just want to pull us into a private conversation and sell us a product or service we don't really need. Marketing often gets conflated with "pushy" sales.

Let's separate marketing from sales:

  • Marketing informs and attracts leads and prospects to your company and product or service.
  • Sales on the other hand works directly with prospects to reinforce the value of the company's solution to convert prospects into customers.

Focusing just on marketing, given you don't misrepresent your product when publishing content or talking to people about it, you probably aren't manipulative. You are simply educating others how to improve some part of their lives with your product.

A better product is not enough

As a developer myself I had the belief building a good product is enough.

Potential users will recognize the clear superiority of my newly programmed service with the better tech, and I'll be swimming in dollar bills soon enough.

Yeah... If you have been in the game of trying to make it as an indie dev for a while, you already know the end to this story.

Even if - and that's a big if - your recently launched product is 10x better than your all the alternatives out there, users don't just magically find out about it. The simply don't know it exists.

Nobody knows what you are building if you don't tell them about it. This is probably one of the biggest learnings for any technology focused indie hacker/startup founder.

If you truly believe your product is better than the alternative, YOU must tell people about it, otherwise it's a disservice to your potential users.

How to think about marketing tasks

Your number one goal should be making someone's life easier. In my opinion, marketing is less about pushing a product, and more about educating people on how they can improve their processes, lives, satisfaction etc.

We simply don't want them to be stuck with an inferior product. It would be a disservice not to tell them about the better one.

However, this comes with a caveat: Not everybody is the right user for your product. Make sure to stay true to the mission of improving lives instead of manipulation.

Here are a few ideas on how to market your products with this in mind:

  • Direct outreach (DM, Phone, Email): Make sure to qualify people first. Ensure they are the right target for your product. In my opinion warm outreach is always better than cold outreach.
  • Provide migration guides from other services to yours: Supabase for example recently did this, when heroku discontinued free plans. Not only did they provide a guide, but they also built a small migration tool.
  • Content on why or how to use your product: This could be blog posts, Twitter threads, LinkedIn posts, YouTube videos, TikToks or any other medium you think of.
  • Improve the copy on your landing page
  • Build complementary free tools related to your product: E.g.: Banks make mortgage calculators, insurance companies publish free comparison tools. I'm sure you can think of something for your business.

Closing thoughts

Changing my mindset towards marketing helped me to reduce the inhibitions I had. The realization that building an exceptional product isn't enough and recognizing the necessity of marketing have been two of my biggest learnings so far.

I hope this article can do a similar thing for you ๐Ÿ™‚

If you liked this article and know a friend who could benefit from it as well, please consider sharing it ๐Ÿ™ If you want to get news and updates from me, subscribe to the newsletter below ๐Ÿ‘‡ or follow me on Twitter.

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