Hypodermic Marketing

Sep 4th, 2002 by Tony in QSM1

In development organizations that sell their products, we often find a marketing function. Marketing is not the customer of the development organization, but a surrogate that represents the customer, sometimes well and sometimes badly. If you satisfy the customers, you don’t really have to satisfy marketing; but if you don’t trust marketing, you have a problem.

We create a marketing function to stand between the customer and the system to reduce the flow of disturbances. “Marketing” in this sense may include a variety of roles, such as developing product requirements, aiding in the installation of new systems, training users, and servicing any problems that arise at the customer’s location.

In return for this reduction of disturbances, however, we put another group of people – the marketing staff – nearer the core of the system, under the skin (“hypo-dermic”) as it were. Because of this position of marketing, their disturbances bypass all other defenses. There may be fewer disturbances, but each one is harder to deal with because they are already “inside”. The effect of these people wandering among the development staff is like a strong medicine wandering inside your body. They act faster, and they act diluted. You may get side effects that are worse than the original disease. That’s why the marketing organization, like any medicine, can so easily stop being a solution, and start becoming a problem.

— Jerry Weinberg, Quality Software Management Vol 1, Chapter 11

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