Friday, July 10, 2009

Marketing Primer: Step One, unlearn being an “Engineer”

Let me diverge a bit from my “History of FireWire from a Marketing Perspective” to say a few words about becoming a marketer. The move from test engineering to marketing was one of the best decisions I’d ever made. It turned my life upside-down and my life needed turning.

As a test engineer, working on a secret missile project, I had to keep a low profile. When anyone asked what I did for a living, I just said “Test Engineer” and little more. Your whole professional existence was supposed to be invisible.

As a marketer, however, the goal was to be as visible as possible. I went from the euphoria of being quoted in EETimes to plotting how to get more quotes than my competitors. It was not ego. It was my job. My employer even sent me to a class where they trained you on how to talk to the press and get your message in print.

As a test engineer, I spent all day, every day in front of a computer monitor. If I was talking to someone, and it was not about a design issue, I was wasting time and my employer’s money. My corner of the cubical was my cell in solitary confinement. I’ve heard others who were working at the same facility comment that once they left their car and started walking towards the building, they could feel their soul being sucked out of them with each step. Once they scanned their badge and starting walking down the endlessly long hallways (called “spines” by my employer), they had morphed from a person into an engineering zombie.

As a marketer, I had to learn to be a person again.

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