Our Catch-22: Marketing vs. Development

As a bootstrap startup, our small team has to be laser focused on how we prioritize our work. The dilemma we kept encountering was how to decide between “marketing priorities” and “product development priorities.” The only way out of a Catch-22 is to break the circular dependency, so we did just that.

We needed to work on the product to build out new features that would attract and retain our users, but we also needed our marketing dev efforts to attract those people in the first place, and grow revenue to fund development. That was the catch. How do you choose? To date we weren't doing a good job of choosing. We didn’t like any of our choices. 

For the most part, we were hobbling our marketing team efforts. This was not because our engineering team didn’t want to help them out (they're great, for the record). We all just kept making the decision to work on product features over marketing priorities. We knew it was critical to get further along on our product. However, we were also at the early stages of building out our marketing and sales efforts. Without these efforts, we knew we wouldn’t have any customers using our product. 

All righty then, you say... so why not just pay someone else to build our website and outsource that piece of work? Well, that could have been an option, but we didn’t want to spend the money on it. Our background is web development so that sounded silly to us and that didn’t solve the problem long term of marketing continuously evolving over time. We needed a better solution. 

Our goal was to ultimately consciously uncouple the marketing team from the product team; break out of the Catch-22. Neither should be reliant on each other, at least not in the day-to-day sense.

Our solution was to drop our custom web site that we had built and go a more simple route so the marketing team could do all the work. We decided to switch our site to Squarespace. The designer on our team would be able to build out the site without any help from engineering and our marketing team would be able to update it themselves. "Perf," as the people say.

In our move towards a more template-based web site, we knew we'd have to give up some functionality and even some design aspects. We were okay with that. The freedom for the marketing team to iterate and learn in this critical stage of our company development was way more important than having direct control over every decision we make on fonts, button treatment, and other elements. 

Overall the switch went smoothly, thanks for asking. Our designer was able to build the entire site by himself and just needed a little help from our product team to set up our analytics tracking codes. We no longer have prioritized meeting sessions trying to determine if we're going to work on marketing items or product items; the marketing team prioritizes what they need and our product team prioritizes what our customers want. I don't miss the meetings, but I do miss the sandwiches.

Although minor, it's worth noting that we did run into a few roadblocks. While we wanted to build out a site section or two a certain way, we found ourselves constrained in our approach due to the template structure of Squarespace, but we have found solid work arounds that are sufficient for now. 

We know companies deal with this dilemma every day. How does marketing/sales get what they need? How do you keep them agile without compromising greater systems and processes already in place within your company? Our answer was to find tools that allowed the teams to be as decoupled as possible but still highly aligned. 

We’re sharing our story, but we’d love to hear yours. Leave a comment below or drop us a line via email hello@talu.io