Marketing is constantly changing, as well as its channels, and the people who are working as marketing professionals. Marketing has changed a lot since the rise of the startups. Startups are unable to afford expensive marketing campaigns via traditional channels (e.g. TV, radio, internet, social media), so they have to come up with different forms of marketing, which will sell their product at the lowest cost possible. Instead of hiring a marketing professional, they have decided to use their own resources and engineers became marketers.
At PLATFORM, we have previously relied on a traditional form of marketing. We hired some of the leading local agencies, and the results were extremely ineffective. Few years ago, banners were skyrocketing and they were generating incredible amounts of clicks. A couple years later, people have developed banner blindness and they subconsciously ignore all the banners on the websites. Later, social media became a valuable marketing resource and with it sponsored posts (which are now also being partially ignored) opened up new opportunities. Over time, we have decided to give up on traditional marketing strategies and instead used our entrepreneurial skills combined with our highly skilled development team to promote our services.
Engineering as marketing is a new form of marketing, where engineers build a special tool which is used for marketing purposes. Gabriel Weinberg, the author of the book Traction, defines the different functions of engineering as marketing as “useful tools like calculators, widgets, and educational microsites that are used to get the company in front of potential customers. These tools generate leads and expand the customer base”. Each tool then becomes a marketing asset, which creates a return that is often indefinite. The best tools are single-purpose and relatively easy to use tools that solve obvious pain points for the customers.
If you want to develop something that will boost your business you have to stick to these three core features:
- You have to provide something valuable and give it for free
- You have to make it relevant to your business.
- You have to demonstrate the value of your product really fast
How do we benefit from engineering as marketing?
It is a very useful tool, which will not only calculate the cost of an app, but it will also provide a lot of educational content. It's a free, easy to use and easy to understand tool that will give you a rough idea of your future project costs, breaking it down by the different features your project requires and the associated cost.
It is a win-win for both sides. The visitor will find out whether his project is feasible or not, and we will get all the necessary information we need such as details about his project, and most importantly a functional email, which is a high quality lead.
“The project cost calculator has been generating new leads every day. Over the last few months, we have gathered more than 3,000 leads. In fact, it is more than we acquired during the whole existence of our company while using traditional marketing strategies. Furthermore, these leads are coming from people who have the interest in launching a web or a mobile app – thus they are an ideal target audience.”
Lukas Horak, CEO of PLATFORM
In comparison with traditional marketing, it won’t stop generating leads as soon as you stop supporting it financially
“Want more clicks? Spend more money. Contrast this with the inbound marketing whereby the cost of producing a piece of content is relatively constant. But, if it generates 10x more leads in a month, your marginal cost for those extra leads is almost zero. Furthermore, with advertising (outbound marketing), the traffic you get generally stops when you stop paying. With inbound marketing, even *after* you stop producing the new content, the old content can still drive ongoing visitors and leads,” said HubSpot’s founder, Dharmesh Shah in the book Traction.
PLATFORM was not the only company that benefited from engineering as marketing. Let's now look at the other examples of how other companies benefited from this new form of marketing. Aforementioned HubSpot is also among them.
How does HubSpot benefit from engineering as marketing?
Just by giving away this valuable tool for free, HubSpot acquired an incredible amount of quality leads, which were turned into customers, and earned millions of dollars.
How does CodeAcademy benefit from engineering as marketing?
Interactive platform CodeAcademy launched in 2012 a microsite, which has been offering free online coding courses. People will enter their email address and they will receive a free lesson every week. Back in 2012 more than 450,000 people signed up for their free courses. Now, they have over 25 million users, and they have their email address and they know exactly what they want to learn.
Engineering as Marketing can be extremely valuable but it's not the easiest form of marketing to implement. The right tool could provide long term ROI to your core product but getting new leads is just the beginning. The next hurdle to overcome is to automate and optimize the next steps so that you can use all of the hundreds or thousands of leads effectively and efficiently and transform them into customers.
The good news is, there are amazing opportunities for new AI-powered marketing tools that provide additional value to the user and aim to show innovation for that product or brand. These make it easier to take advantage of large volumes of leads.
Here are just few examples of AI-powered marketing tools:
- Whole Foods: Recipe finder bot
- CNN: Top news stories bot
- The Weather Channel: Weather update bot
- Purchase Recommendations - Grey Jean's Genie
In the end, engineering as marketing may not work for every organization, but if there is a tool you can create that could serve this purpose, don't miss your opportunity.