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This was an article from the First Round Capital blog originally submitted August 1st 2014 that led to a great discussion about the intersection of marketing and engineering.  https://growthhackers.com/the-case-for-why-marketing-should-have-its-own-engineers/

  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    about 5 years ago #

    I thought about this article a couple nights ago after I met with growth engineers from Pinterest, Uber and Eventbrite. I asked a couple of them if they would have been enthusiastic to join a marketing team and their answer was no. This got me thinking that growth teams are probably largely an evolution of marketing teams with engineers. But hiring an engineer for a "growth team" is much easier than hiring an engineer for a "marketing team." Curious what other people think about this.

    On a related note, the original marketing team that I built at LogMeIn looked a lot more like today's growth teams than a typical marketing team. My first two hires on the team (one week apart) were an engineer/designer and a data analyst (who had trained as an actuary and was as good as any of today's data scientists that I've met).

    • DC

      Dan Cave

      about 5 years ago #

      This is worry of mine right now. I'm looking to hire a developer/engineer into my marketing team in the UK where attitudes and understanding of Growth are maybe a little less developed. Especially considering my place is a tech startup with a digital product all the developers are going to want to work on, instead of "marketing". The irony being, they will have more autonomy/freedom to impress the world with their brains sat in marketing, than in the front end app development team.

      Having spent the last month in SF (runway incubator) i've seen how seriously Growth is taken and how empowered Growth leaders are; Its seriously impressive, and something i'd love to push in the UK. Talking to some (not all) developers in the UK as a marketing person still makes me despondent that still in 2015 people still don't get that without marketing, even the best products can fail.

      Questions:
      1) Has anyone ever put together a Growth/marketing team engineers job spec before? I'd be kind to get some inspiration.
      2) What do you think the best way to socially engineer buy-in from developers into growth marketing?

      • CB

        Chris Bolman

        about 5 years ago #

        We have an engineering team of 4 on our marketing team. Responsibilities are divided among (1) true growth projects, (2) building, supporting and improving "growth infrastructure" and (3) more down-funnel products, internal tools and optimizations.

        It definitely takes a certain type of engineer to want to work in a growth environment -- a lot of engineers don't like the constant iteration, short sprints and multi-tasking. Last year my experiences interviewing engineers for growth led me to write this (which also prompted a very thoughtful response from John Egan at Pinterest): http://blog.chrisbolman.com/tag/growth-engineer/

        • SE

          Sean Ellis

          about 5 years ago #

          Great point on it taking a certain type of engineer to want to work in a growth environment of fast iterations.

      • SE

        Sean Ellis

        about 5 years ago #

        Regarding your questions:

        1) There are a bunch of growth engineering job descriptions online, so I'd just do a few Google searches and you'll find some good ones at the top companies.
        2) Feedback I got from an engineer is that most engineers want to work on product. You need to explain that much of their work will be on product, since product is often the most powerful growth lever. A couple benefits that this growth team engineer highlighted are that growth engineering provides a good feedback loop on development projects. And that growth is very important for any company, so that means that growth engineers are very important (driving a huge part of value creation in the company).

        • TM

          Tom Maiaroto

          about 5 years ago #

          I'm not sure if I agree that there are all too many growth engineering jobs though. Most companies isolate developers from marketing and yet again separate from design. It's extremely rare to find a company that actually would understand how to manage or let someone with that range of skills operate.

          Totally possible I've always looked in the wrong spots. But if you know a job where I'd actually get to work with marketing data on both the back-end level (distributed systems, advanced databases, the whole nine yards) and then on the front-end with visualizations (clever JavaScript and visual communication) and then work with a team to actually act on all that observed data. Well, you just let me know. They don't exist. It's part of the whole "unicorn" dilemma. Everyone talks about how great it'd be to have someone who possessed all those skills - the problem is, no one actually wants to hire said "unicorn" because no one actually knows what to do with one should they even be able to spot and capture one =)

        • RS

          Rob Sobers

          about 5 years ago #

          In addition to working on in-product growth projects related to onboarding, referral flows, and retention, you can put a growth engineer on a whole new product whose sole purpose is growth.

          Look at something like AppSumo's SumoMe plugin or HubSpot's Marketing Grader. These products were purpose-built as growth vehicles for the company's main products.

          Also, I'd argue that companies should treat their public-facing sales website as an actual shipping product with its own engineer, designer, and copywriter.

    • TM

      Tom Maiaroto

      about 5 years ago #

      I'm an engineer (designer too) and I'd be excited join a marketing team. Especially one that was focused on measured growth. I have a very unique set of skills and experiences though. I do realize I'm in the minority. ... I just like to understand and be capable of executing the entire process.

      • HW

        Hannah Wright

        about 5 years ago #

        I guess the main concern there would be, "Is the marketing team I'm joining growth-focused? Do they have similar overall goals? Will we be on the same page?"

    • GG

      Giselle Gonzalez

      about 5 years ago #

      I consider myself a fairly well-rounded marketer as I've worked on nearly every part of the funnel (you gotta hustle when you're the only FT marketer on the team, right?). Anyways, I find that my needs are sometimes prioritized below other dev requests. Things that from a dev perspective are probably fairly simple. So I've decided to make the plunge. I'm going to start a formal coding bootcamp - mostly out of the frustration from having to depend on someone to build something that I can't and because I'm genuinely excited to be able to bring an idea to life. I don't want to transition to a web developer - I want to be a growth engineer. I love being able to identify problems (retention / customer acq related etc.) and find creative ways to solve them (through creative direction) but now I think I'll be able to come full circle and actually execute on my ideas. I think the movement could be toward getting more marketers deeply immersed into the benefits and power of learning web development.

      • GA

        Greg Aubert

        about 5 years ago #

        I think this is a smart move. You'll be a growth machine once you finish the bootcamp.
        I had similar frustrations. I just finished a 9 week course and super glad I took the time to do it. Learning coding full-time is much better than doing a few hours on Codecademy after work. Tried the latter for a while but it was slow progress. Best of luck, would be great to hear the things you're working on after you finish the bootcamp!

        • GG

          Giselle Gonzalez

          about 5 years ago #

          That's awesome! Would love to stay connected with you as I'm sure there's a ton of overlap in business interests. Just sent you an invite on LinkedIn.

        • GG

          Giselle Gonzalez

          about 5 years ago #

          That's awesome! Would love to stay connected with you as I'm sure there's a ton of overlap in business interests. Just sent you an invite on LinkedIn.

        • SG

          Simon Goldsmith

          about 5 years ago #

          Agreed, I think there will be more marketeers moving towards coding than the other way round. I am currently making the same pivot - i consider myself a growth expert in terms of SEO, PPC, etc but I'm now looking to add CSS, SQL and PHP to my roster. I've also noticed marketing job specs are demanding this kind of umbrella variety of skills. Am also looking to link in with other growth hackers, so if anyone wants to add me feel free.

    • MO

      Michael O'Brien

      about 5 years ago #

      Yes, business is simply adopting that 12 man unit special forces mentality. A small group of Engineers and marketers in each individual can have the throughput of 100 "normies" This I think gives credence to the 10X workers but it's hard to measure something that semantic. I find this to be very true: You want marketers that can hack and you want hackers with liberal arts, creative juices. A good mixture of both leads to "stack zen"

  • RM

    Robbie Mitchell

    almost 5 years ago #

    Glad to see so much discussion on this story. Camille at First Round did a great job synthesizing a long and winding interview. Say hi: twitter.com/superstrong

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