Engineering as Marketing-Traction Channel #10

Customer Development

Developing Definition  Jason Mares of Traction explains,”We call this traction channel engineering as marketing: using engineering time to create useful tools like calculators, widgets, and educational micro-sites to get your company in front of potential customers. These tools then generate leads and expand your customer base.  HubSpot, a marketing automation software company, has reached tens of millions in revenue in a few short years. One key to their success is a free marketing review tool they created called Marketing Grader.”

In the article, Your Marketing Job is about to Become an Engineering Job. Get Use to It, the focus on how marketing is changing. “Marketing is largely becoming about algorithms, instead of catchy jingles. How it’s become about optimization instead of “grand openings” or “launch dates.” Data instead of instinct.”

Great Examples of Companies using Engineering as Marketing from Traction book.

Dharmesh of Hubspot says:

“At HubSpot, we really believe in marketing channels that have high leverage (i.e. write it or build it once – and get value forever). As such, we take a very geeky and analytical approach to marketing. We think of each piece of content (blog article, app, video, whatever) as a marketing asset. This asset creates a return – often indefinitely.” 

“We contrast that to buying an ad which does not scale as well. When you advertise , the money you’re spending is what drives how much attention you get. Want more clicks? Spend more money. Contrast this to inbound marketing whereby the cost of producing a piece of content is relatively constant. But, if it generates 10x more leads in a month, your marginal cost for those extra leads is almost zero. Further, with advertising (outbound marketing), the traffic you get generally stops when you stop paying. With inbound marketing, even *after* you stop producing new content, the old content can still drive ongoing visitors and leads.”

Value of Engineering as Marketing  The case for spending engineering resources on marketing becomes much stronger when you think about the resulting tools as assets. These tools have the potential to become a continual source of leads that make up the majority of your traction.

Tactics for Engineering as Marketing (from Traction by Weinberg and Mares)

Annual Promotions  One way to boost your efforts in this traction channel is to take advantage of cyclical behavior.

Micro-Sites  One tactic to really maximize impact is to put your tools on their own website. This simple technique does two things. First, it makes them much easier to share. Second, you can do well with SEO by picking a name that people search often so your tool is more naturally discoverable

Widgets  How many times have you seen Facebook, Twitter and other sharing buttons on a site? For each of those widgets (e.g. Facebook, StumbleUpon, Google +, and Twitter buttons), a company used engineering resources to create a marketing tool that was embeddable on sites. These widgets drive engagement, traffic and traction for these social platforms and the sites that use these tools.

Conclusion  Zack Linford, the founder of Conversion Voodoo, tells about how building tools can help with PR and SEO, while also nailing down the core value proposition for your product.

“Building noteworthy tools that your target audience finds useful is a solid way to gain traction that also pays dividends down the road by helping build your SEO. A simple roadmap to executing this technical strategy includes: Providing something of true value for free, with no strings attached. Making that offering extremely relevant to your core business. Demonstrating that value as quickly as possible.”

Resources