How to “Engineer” a Marketing Fiasco


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Here’s the all-too-common scenario: A team of highly skilled engineers rolls out a product that passes beta and actually starts to get some traction (usually through networking with people they already know). Encouraged by their first few orders, the company promotes those engineers or product developers to fill the marketing and sales roles. Who better to sell the product than the person who built it? Besides, the product is so good, it will sell itself, right?

We have seen a few companies luck out and have this scenario come true. But for most B2B companies, evolving from the “two guys in a garage” phase into a sustainable enterprise means finding the marketing leader who can turn your technical inspiration and list of features into compelling value propositions that hit the right audiences using a fluid repertoire of proven tactics – all driving quantifiable awareness, leads and revenue. Let your engineers design. Find a marketer to market. It’s worth it.

Sales is Not Marketing

Just as marketing is a distinct and vital discipline from engineering, so is the sales role different from marketing. Some tech companies throw a bunch of cash or equity at a sales guy with a huge contact list or give the reins to some inexpensive cold callers. This seldom works. First, the sales model must proceed from a structure in which your product strategy and brand promise have been carefully forged. Secondly, that new hotshot sales VP or that boiler room you hired to cold call are going to fail if they don’t have enough targeted, qualified leads.

The point is that even the best VP of sales won’t have the time to be very good at sales if he or she has to keep the top of the conversion funnel filled with leads. That’s what a VP of marketing is for. Asking that of your sales team is a poor use of their time. If you want results and are focused on growth, bring the right skill set to bear on the right endeavor.

This blog post was excerpted from a longer article titled Fatal marketing mistakes for tech companies, published by ColoradoBiz Magazine.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Christopher Ryan
Christopher Ryan is CEO of Fusion Marketing Partners, a B2B marketing consulting firm and interim/fractional CMO. He blogs at Great B2B Marketing and you can follow him at Google+. Chris has 25 years of marketing, technology, and senior management experience. As a marketing executive and services provider, Chris has created and executed numerous programs that build market awareness, drive lead generation and increase revenue.


  1. As an Engineer working Marketing, I think you’re right on target with this scenario. While I think there can be value in approaching Marketing with an Engineering perspective, it’s a very different discipline requiring a different mindset to be successful.

    As an example of the good, Engineers commonly like to measure and systematically improve for the best performance. That approach can have a great influence on Marketing performance.

    But I also know of many examples, particularly in small and medium sized technology companies, where “Engineering a Marketing Fiasco” is the best and only way to describe an Engineer’s contribution to Marketing. Customer behavior is rarely consistent with Engineering logic, resulting in a fiasco.


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