The mobile app developer-marketer: A multi-faceted myth

In a world of rapid development, it is only natural for people’s skill sets to grow and change. While most people seek to acquire skills that will propel them in a particular direction, others attempt to bulk up on skills that they feel will make them proverbial jacks of all trades. Therefore, you have designers who write, writers who code, coders who test and developers who market. You heard it right – developers who dabble in marketing.

Theoretically, it’s a great idea – making oneself a veritable one-stop shop for application development and marketing. But does that mean that you need to alter your requirement specs the next time you decide to hire developers? Certainly not. In fact, this growing trend of generalization is rather worrisome. Developing applications and marketing them are two distinct processes that are pretty time-consuming by themselves. Expecting one person to do both in order to ‘simplify’ things is, to say the least, quite short-sighted.

Very simply put, it splits the focus of the individual resulting in less than satisfactory deliveries. Remember the mother who wanted her child to be an international sportsperson and a celebrated classical  musician? Chances are that the child excelled at one skill while having a basic know-how of the other. Although startups often find themselves tempted by candidates with seemingly dual capabilities, it is good business sense to identify which one of the skills is stronger and hire accordingly.

To give you a better idea of what it takes to be a mobile app developer or marketer, here are some skills that one just can’t compromise on.

Skills that make a mobile app developer:

  • Working knowledge of various platforms of choice – iOS, Android, Cross-Platform tools and relevant SDKs (not all but whatever is relevant)
  • Knowledge, if not mastery of interaction design
  • Ability to understand, in some cases write and in all cases consume APIs
  • Write unit tests and test everything that s/he develops
  • Understand test scripts and test for them
  • Good developers also tend to go beyond the above and help you provision and set up server infrastructure, deploy on the app stores

Skills that make a mobile app marketer:

  • Understanding the psyche of the target audience and knowing the app inside out
  • Naming of the app, putting it up under the right category
  • Using the right keywords to describe the app
  • Up-to-the-minute insights to metrics such as CPI, MAU, DAU of similar apps
  • Working knowledge of tools such as Fiksu, App Annie, Mix Panel etc.

The above mentioned capabilities are just a few examples of what skills are required for each role. As is evident, the required skill sets are entirely different. Expecting one individual to demonstrate both sets is not the best way to go about it. There are likely some exceptions where great developers have proved to be effective marketers as well, but that’s not a chance you should take with your fledgling app. More often than not, candidates who offer both services have a better instinct for one than the other.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to one thing – what is your motive behind building that app? Is it a manifestation of the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) tendency or is it to build an app that is unique, serves a purpose and delights customers? If it is the former, you can certainly go ahead with making development and marketing a one-man show. If it is the latter, you’re better off hiring specialists who will be focused on the respective roles and produce expected outcomes.

Image courtesy:
Aaron Meyers
http://www.proactivecontinuity.com/2013/02/podcast-appearance-two-headed-nerd.html

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