Peter F. Drucker once commented "The job of business is to create a market." He was quite right,
Revenue comes from outside the enterprise. Companies get revenue when customers buy the products it makes, and engineer's salaries are paid out of that revenue, To generate revenue, companies must make products people want to buy. Understanding who the customer is and what products they need is the essense of marketing.
Marketing and sales are often conflated, but they aren't the same thing. You can't sell it until you have it, and if you don't understand what your market wants, you can't sell it even if you do have it, because it doesn't do what the customers want.
Engineers are designing and building products people will use, If you're an engineer, you don't exist in a vacuum. If nothing else, you need to understand how people will use your products, and how they must be designed and built so customers can use them effectively.
Engineers tend not to be good at sales, but I recommend some time spent in the trenches with the customers, seeing how they use the products you design, so you can do a better job of design, How many have tried to use a particular product in the course of their job as an engineer, and said "This is supposed to be a tool I can use! Didn't they talk to people like me about what we do and how we do it before they released this? This tool doesn't help, it gets in my way!"
You don't want to be an engineer whose products get that sort of comment...
@Sanjib.A Learning what you do well, and liking it, is key to a happy career. As engineers, it's vital to understand what the other disciplines in a company contriute to success (or lack of it).
In my experience, the best products come out of groups that are well integrated and each values the contributions of the others. That doesn't mean giving in to pressure when you are certain that the team is going the wrong way.
Few people are "right" even 50% of the time, so engineers need to recognize that sometimes they aren't right. But major differences over technical content really needs to be hammered out. Differences in opinion rooted in facts means that someone doesn't understand, the facts are wrong, or they don't apply. Coming to technical agreement is key, presenting it is another matter.
@Sanjib: Perhaps marketing is very fascinating and intricate thing. It is always not superior product that sales. There many other facets in product marketing. Most time I like to be uderdog with product but take challenge and sale make those product pretty popular among engineering group.
In my first company after I completed my engineering, I was pushed to marketing. I worked for a while and knew that it was not for me. When I went to customers, I had no confidence, much less knowledge about the product/application I was going to sell. Secondly, I felt my competitor's product was much superior and had a bad feeling in my mind that how I would convince the customer, when I, myself was not convinced. Eventually I was desperate to change my career as I felt it was not for me. In the last 13 years I was into design & development. I was comfortable, but also learned that without a marketing/sales person selling the product I designed, I would not have survived. And I believe most of the engineers have an entrepreneurial dream and in order to full feel that, getting into the marketing skills is essential. That is why I find this discussion very useful.
I can think of two scenarios a marketing person faces: (1) Selling somebody else's product (2) Selling the product, which he/she thinks of his/her own. In the second case, it is a bit easy, isn't it? Because the person might has done good amount of research already. In the first case if it is possible to partner with the team, who is actually engineering the product much early from the conceptual phase, the feeling of "own"-ness would help the person in selling the product. I guess partnership between engineering & marketing during the complete product/project lifecycle is the key & win-win for both.
Unfortunately many people think that marketing is all about socializing. But there's plenty of solo work sorting through numbers, analyzing endless data, and pouring through competative literature. Parts of marketing is also about networking to gain competitive intelligence. Then there is the brand marketing where there appears to be glad handing and parties. Even this discipline is harder than it looks.
Redardless of the marketing fidcipline, hard science is joining the softer science of behavioral psychology.
@Bert22306 " ... to achieve those goals, aggressive marketers, often without the technical knowledge they should have, let's say "misrepresent the truth," unwittingly many times." That about encapsulates the issue a lot of the time. BUT, I look at the situation as a management failure coupled with people who have the technical knowlesge failing to stnad up for the facts.
Usually there are disappointed customers, but the hard failures are legendary. Take the case of a solid rocket booster o-ring. Engineers warned that the temperature was too cold to launch. Management over-rode the decision and the results are history.
I believe that some recent articles here, e.g. the one on supposed modulation breakthrough, you can see why marketing gets a bad reputation in engineering circles. I understand what the goals of marketing are. It's just that to achieve those goals, aggressive marketers, often without the technical knowledge they should have, let's say "misrepresent the truth," unwittingly many times.
Marketing is quite a fascinating field if you like talking and socializing. Of course Marketing is one of the important department of an organization just like design and development or production. Today's times need everyone to have little bit of marketing skill in them in order to excel in their work.
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