Advice for the New Delphi Marketing Guy

An open letter to the new Delphi Marketing Guy:

I am glad to hear that there is a fresh face tasked with the difficult job of marketing Delphi. I’m glad because every time there is a new marketing person, it represents an opportunity to radically change the way Delphi is marketed. From reading your web site I must say that I am really encouraged. You appear to be far more technically savvy than your predecessors have been, and you clearly have a “Developer Relations” bent. That’s great. Your Zamples site is terrific. Here’s hoping you “sound” like a developer and not a marketeer!

One of the first things I am sure you will discover is that, right or wrong, many folks consider “Delphi Marketing” to be an oxymoron. You probably are making it one of your top priorities to change this state of affairs. In fact, if after twelve to eighteen months on the job, the only thing you feel you’ve accomplished is that the Delphi community no longer holds this attitude, I would say that you will have been a roaring success and will deserve a huge raise. Simply changing that one perception would be a huge step forward.

Now, I’m not a marketing guy. I admit it. I’ve never taken a marketing class, and I’ve never had a marketing job. But I do know what I like when I am marketed to and I have been hanging around the Delphi community for ten years. I’m in the business of selling Delphi and Delphi services, so I have seen a thing or two over the years. As a result, I do have some humbly-offered advice for you:

  1. Get a copy of The ClueTrain Manifesto. Buy it. Read it. Live it. Be it. In my view, the very first thing you need to do is to bring Delphi marketing into the 21st century by realizing that “Markets are Conversations”. The Internet has transformed the way marketing is done, and I must say I don’t think that in the past, the folks doing Delphi marketing have realized this. It seems that all Delphi marketing has been done in the classic “Sell Tide on the Soap Operas” mode, with Marketing 101 textbook techniques and horribly over-controlled “marketing campaigns.” That’s not the way it gets done anymore. Most of what follows here flows from the basic concepts in that book.

  2. When you get done with the ClueTrain, read everything Guy Kawasaki has written. Guy Kawasaki knows all about marketing technology in the technology age. One of Delphi’s greatest strengths is the community of developers who believe very passionately in Delphi as a tool, as a language and as a product. Guy knows how to harness these folks, and you’d do well to try to do the same.

  3. Walk the halls where the Delphi team works and read the Dilbert cartoons posted there. Scott Adams is a genius. I’m a firm believer that anybody can get the pulse of an organization and the ills that effect it by reading the Dilbert cartoons posted on people’s office doors and in their cubicles. Wandering the halls and reading the Dilbert strips posted there will be one of the best ways for you to find out what the team thinks about the problems and issues with the product and the company.

  4. Post to your blog two or three times a week. The fact that one of the first things you did on the job is to set up a blog and invite a conversation is extremely encouraging. That is really cool. Now, the trick is to stick with it. Too many blogs at are pretty much dark. Post what you are doing. Post where you go, the conversations you have with other Borlanders, with customers, with the execs. If you are doing market research, post about it. You don’t have to post the results, just post what you are interested in, where you are looking for information. Ask your customers questions in your blog and then respond to their comments. Get other Delphi team members to blog more. Talk about your boat, your life, funny stuff that happens at work, whatever. But just keep posting.

  5. Don’t sound like a marketing guy. I think that much of what Borland is doing with the SDO strategy is really cool. However, a lot of it sounds like marketing, not like straight talk. I’ve read it carefully, and I’m not even sure I know what it means. However, the talk that Boz Elloy gave at Borcon, particularly the skit done by the Sales Engineers, was much better. It was clear, concise, and delightfully devoid of marketing-speak. I think that Boz’s talk was so effective because he realized he was talking to developers. There’s a reason that marketing guys are such ripe targets for Dilbert cartoons. If you sound like a marketing guy, people will tune you out. Normal, rational people can’t understand the language spoken by marketeers. “Process” and “paradigm” and “maximizing” and all that stuff needs to be banned. Converse, don’t “market”.

  6. Be an active newsgroup participant. Put on your asbestos suit and start posting in the newsgroups. Clearly label yourself as the Delphi marketing guy. Start out by being adamant that you won’t discuss the past, as that is gone forever. Insist that you only want to talk about the future. You’ll be flamed and berated. You will be inundated with tons of input, flames, comments, insight, advice, and even total nonsense from all of us arm-chair marketers. But these guys and gals that are hollering at you are the heart and soul of Delphi. You must have a thick skin and listen to them. Converse with them. Talk to them. Inform them. Get to know them. They are your soldiers, your eyes and ears in places you can never be. They love Delphi. They want to spread the good news of Delphi. Be there for them to help them do that.

  7. Join the fight for more money, resources and freedom for the Borland Developer Network. BDN is utterly essential for Borland and Delphi’s success, but I sometimes get the feeling that no one outside of Developer Relations realizes this. BDN is a huge, yet totally under-utilized marketing tool. Developers need resources, code, examples, articles, support and more. Having all of that in abundance on BDN makes every Delphi sale that much easier. The Developer Relations guys do heroic, McGyver-like work in providing content on the site with a shoe string budget, masking tape, baling wire and some glue. They need more and better resources to get the job done. They need more freedom to publish content without the lawyers breathing down their back. They need strong, clear support at the highest levels. You can help them get that, and get a great marketing tool in return.

  8. Go after disaffected Visual Basic programmers. You want a rich, ripe market for Delphi? A fecund field ready for harvest? Go after the rather large group of Visual Basic programmers who are quite unhappy about what Microsoft is doing with Visual Basic. Don’t know what is going on? Give this a read and get a feel for what is going on. Remind these folks that Borland has a twenty year legacy of not doing exactly what Microsoft is doing to them. These guys are ready for the plucking. Go for it.

It’s really, really hard for open letters like this one not to sound smug, and I’ve tried hard not to be smug, but I suspect that I’ve failed. Please forgive that. All of this is probably no more than the delusions of a chuckle-headed Delphi programmer, so maybe you should treat it that way. But maybe there are some good nuggets of truth in there that might work and make the words “Delphi Marketing” roll a little more smoothly off the tongue of the average Delphi developer.