Re: Your Position and Marketing

Subject: Re: Your Position and Marketing
From: Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 25 Oct 1995 09:31:40 PDT

You can expect to find several important differences between the
engineers and the marketing people. The contrasts here, of course,
don't apply to everyone in the respective fields, but I've found the
players in the respective departments to largely stay true to form,
as follows:

1. The marketers believe in the value of high-quality literature. They
may not be able to write it, they may not be able to identify it when
it's put in front of their noses, but they believe in it. Engineers
often do not believe in documentation: they don't read it, they don't
write it, and they are made uncomfortable by the need to deal with
anything outside the walls of the Engineering department.

2. The marketers know how to spend money. Associating with them leads
to lunch meetings, T-shirts, tote-bags, new equipment, raises, and
promotions. The engineers toss around nickels as if they were manhole

3. Marketers tend to be impatient of details, so long as the main points
are hammered home clearly. This attitude often undermines their
credibility, even when their main points are all correct.
Engineers want every deck chair on the TITANIC to be positioned just so.

4. Marketers never do anything until the last minute. Engineers
plan everything in advance -- except documentation.

5. Marketers often believe their own hype, leading to gross errors of
judgement. Engineers ignore or laugh at hype. This tends to
make marketing/engineering communication even worse than you'd expect.

6. Marketers care mostly about markets, customers, and competition.
Products are largely disposable means to an end. Engineers love
their creations for their own sake.

7. Marketing has an endless need for snappy names, tautly written
introductory material, and other stuff that's insanely difficult --
but not lengthy. Engineering documentation is at least an order
of magnitude longer, but has nowhere near the agony per paragraph
of the Marketing stuff.

8. Marketers think about and talk to real end-users. Engineers do not.

9. Engineers know all about the product, and can answer your questions.
The Marketers don't know the details, and their "big picture" is
often incorrect in detail.

The whole business is very strange, since, except in start-up companies,
there's so little overlap in the two groups' perceptions, though both
designing products and selling them at a profit are fundamental
business concerns.

As an employee, I enjoyed working in the Marketing department. If nothing
else, it's nice to belong to an organization that believes in what you
do. The lunches, parties, and off-site meetings were better, though
that's neither here nor there.

As a consultant, I've found that all money flows through Marketing.
In the semiconductor industry, at least, Engineering rarely pays for
documentation -- Marketing foots the bill.

In general, one should always cultivate both Marketing and Engineering,
and being on good terms with the Sales will often lead to important
insights, too.

-- Robert

Robert Plamondon * High-Tech Technical Writing
36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett * Oregon * 97326
robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (503) 453-5841
"I regret that I have but one * for my country." -- Nathan Hale

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