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Why marketing matters even if you are "just" a software developer

I remember some conversations my friends and I used to have a long time ago.  They were obviously about many things, but in particular, I remember the most those about creating applications or even awesome games as a solo thing or maybe as part of a bigger entrepreneurial endeavor (ok, ok! even about smaller ones too). We were dreamers, you know, just like you, and dreaming was awesome!, exhilarating also.  We used to have this lengthy talks about what we could do with our current or yet to acquire skills and how well we could do, planning that incredible future that was almost within our grasp that we could almost taste it (cliche I know).

But then, at the highest point in the conversation, someone would say something silly like, “yeah sure, but, how can we make a living with our ideas, how can we even reach the ones that could be interested in our ideas, we know nothing about selling stuff”, and then all those little dreams that we were building just crumbled like an old but valued ancient vase. So, we continued our lives dreaming in secret and then doing "grown up" stuff (stop dreaming and get to work!) all day long, convinced that no matter all that talk what we were just wasting our time.

But this wasn’t just an isolated convo, no, no, no. I got many of those such conversations for many years with the same friends, different friends and from people I didn’t even know (there was always someone saying silly stuff too on those conversations). And yeah, I sometimes listen to other people’s conversations, I’m creepy like that, I also answer them sometimes - silently (This also annoys my girlfriend and I love it - please don't kill me!).

What I got from that though, was that maybe it wasn’t just my problem or one that just software developers had, but, one for people all around the world wanting to create something out of passion but that were skeptical of even reaching outside friends and colleagues.

Also, for me like for most people, “selling”, was like a very bad word, full of red and yellow text pages with lots of “last day”, “buy now”, many meaningless calls (to unsuspecting victims) or lots of ego talk and stuff that didn’t resonate with me (I do have my ego, though), so why would it succeed with others? how would that even reach like minded people? (at this point I was designing my very first simple persona without me knowing it.  Points for me, right?).

So, I kept on dreaming and decided that I would have to find the answer to my problem. Little did I know that the answer was so simple and that it was in fact within my grasp, if I just reached a little further. So I pressed on.  I tried learning about a lot of new stuff, like psychology, graphic design, UX, leadership, well, you name it.  Selling was still something I didn't want to even try but then I realized at some point that what I really needed was to learn about marketing (which at the time was this magical out of reach thingy that only some amazing people I knew were able to even grasp), to be able to understand how "that" world worked, how can something I created, a blog, a game, an idea, could reach much more people than just my loved ones, without me just saying hey download it now! pretty please!

So, I started buying books, enrolled in many courses, watched some YouTube vids, blogs and what not, all in the name of marketing. After a while I realized that I really needed some structure and maybe a framework that would help me put into action what I was learning.

After I started the Deep Learning foundation Nanodegree (yeah! I know yet another course and stuff to learn, yay!) I realized that this kind of Nano-degree or specialization programs offered by the likes of Udacity and Coursera were really valuable or, well, simply put invaluable.  It was like a way of going back to the university but with real life experience and no more memory tests (Sorry, I do really hate those exams even though if I understand the why they are needed), then just go to the real world and apply what you've learned and then fix or tune it, instead of just a "this is not a good answer for this particularly obscure question"...

But I digress 馃槄, after a while I found out of a new program, the Digital Marketing Nanodegree, also from Udacity, and after asking some friends for opinions about it, I also joined that one (I am also now considering trying to clone myself, so, if you know about any reputable cloning facility, please let me know馃槹).

My hope for the future, after I finish this Nanodegree, is to be able to market and tackle anything that I would like to do, because I think that marketing could help you achieve the following (and because I am still an optimist-dreamer, what a mix!):
  • As a leader or developer in your company it will allow you to "market" coworker's or friend's skills and help them grow within the company.  Because you have to understand that whenever you are trying to pitch to someone that a particular person should earn more money or should work on a particular project, well, you are marketing her/his skills and expertise and trying to convince the other party into, wait for it, buying what you are selling (yeah! bad words, sorry).  It would also help you bring more awareness of your own abilities into others, and that might ignite some interesting opportunities.
  • You could also at some point decide that you would like to become a full time marketer! (highly unlikely for me, at least for now, given that I love software development too much 馃挀, awwww)
  • As an entrepreneur or idea creator you would be able to create your very own startup, publish a game, a course, so on and so forth, and also be able to reach many more people that you would have without it.  I know that lean startup methodologies advocate leaving the building but if you also know how to market! well...
  • And last but not least knowing about marketing will help you to interact with marketing people for future projects, prepare better pre-sales material and will give you more confidence on how things work and how can you contribute in many different situations.

So, why would you join a course or learn about marketing? Or well why wouldn’t you do it?


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