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A Developer is not a Growth Hacker

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A developer is not a growth hacker and should not be considered one. Focus engineering on creating value for customers, encourage your marketing, sales and customer success teams to buy technology and hire hackers as part their teams to take advantage the technology available.

I’m sure you’ve all been hearing tons about the new term ‘growth hacker’ – a technical savvy person with internet and marketing background/intuition that uses technology to drive business results using smart techniques. In times when good developers are scarce and much needed, even small companies must focus engineering teams on creating value to customers, nothing else, period!

At the same time, the businesses environment requires ever more technical knowledge for being successful. Some predict that marketing IT budgets in few years are going to be bigger than IT budgets.

Many young companies make the mistake of thinking that everything that is technology should be managed by developers. In reality, marketing, sales and the product roadmap compete for the same technical resources. Marketing usually doesn’t come out on top. For those companies that insist on building all things technical in-house, marketing and sales initiatives are often slowed down due to the unavailability of development resources.

I hate to admit this to myself, but we developers are control freaks and just because we can build a tool in-house, such as a landing page/salesforce integration/list mining tool and so forth, doesn’t mean we should. To developers, those business tools seem very trivial and simple to build in-house, so why waste good dollars on buying them?

After all:

  • A landing page is a simple web form
  • A CRM is a contact list which could be managed on Google Docs for free
  • Email automation tools could be implemented in minutes on Amazon Simple Email Service

…and I can go on and on with many more examples.

Stop! Resist the urge! There are several pitfalls: the initial hack maybe easy but the ongoing maintenance and improvement of each of these systems could become tedious. Are you going to be there to service your sales and marketing team when your initial hack needs updating or improving? Beyond that, do you really want to dedicate your engineering talent and valuable time in maintaining these in-house tools when there are companies whose entire goal is to specialize in such tools and upgrading them? And lastly, what’s worse – do you want to slow down your customer acquisition in the process?

This is how I think young companies get the biggest bang for their buck: we, the tech savvy founder/CEO/CTO/VP Eng, should help the marketing team with technology evaluations, ideas, tip and tricks but also allow them to buy the tools they need and hire the tech people who are going to help them operate effectively. We shouldn’t however try to control all technology in the company.

You should allow your marketing, sales and customer success teams to operate at their own rhythm without the need to be part of the product release schedule or wait around for engineering to handle one-off requests. Ultimately it’s about delivering user value and all companies resources should be aligned around this single goal.

Guy Nirpaz

Guy Nirpaz is a Silicon Valley-based Israeli entrepreneur and CEO of Totango, a Customer Success software platform. A pioneer in the Customer Success field, Guy established the Customer Success Summit and is a well-regarded industry speaker and community contributor. Guy loves people and technology and has dedicated his career to improving the way in which business is done through innovation. Fun Facts: Guy moonlights as the lead guitarist in a rock band based out of his garage in Palo Alto and used to command a tank well as having grown oranges.

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