Snap out of it partner, unless you are in the business of making websites or software then you're marketing department doesn't need a web developer. Here's why:
1. They aren't marketers: A web developer is somebody who can build/maintain websites or take a design and make a website out of it. A more seasoned developer may be able to build a web or mobile app. Those are useful skills kids, believe me, but they aren't marketing-related at all. Do you really think that a web developer is going to help your business get leads or sales? How could they? Sure they can code until their eyes bleed. Great! None of that is going to help you look any better in front of your boss without the right marketing strategy behind it. This is money you could spend on other things like creating content, running marketing campaigns, or hiring the people your shorthanded marketing department might actually need.
2. They lack the skills you need: Let's be honest. Even though marketing departments are getting more tech-savvy, many still have a long way to go. We see this all the time in our line of work. The VP of marketing goes out and hires a web developer thinking that they can fire their agency of record and just do everything in-house. Here's the problem with that. A web developer may only be good in a particular skill set or technology. Maybe they know how to program Salesforce apps, or build/maintain a Wordpress website or write a .NET custom application. Your business may be using one of those technologies now, but what about in the future? What happens when your IT department decides they want to change technologies? Or a new marketing platform shows up that you want to use? Your web developer is going to be as useful as a Christmas Tree on Easter when that happens. Lastly, who on your team is really capable of hiring a developer? You? HR? Please. It's hard not to cry a little every time I see this happen.
3. You can't afford one: A more realistic example is that your budget only gets you a half-decent web developer. You need Michael Jackson (a great marketer in his own right), but can only afford Tito. Here's the thing. Marketing agencies and technology companies hire very high-end developers since they code websites or apps every single day. They need great developers to make money and the developers relish the opportunity to work on lots of different projects. Similar to how law firms have the best lawyers. Do you go to Chili's because you love the way their development team slices PSDs into HTML or because you love the Lunch Double Burger? Depending on your business, your marketing department is probably responsible for something else other than coding.
4. They are a bottleneck: Let's say you hire a web developer and things go great. You're a match made in marketing-technology heaven. You've been together for a few years and the developer does what you need them to do. However, no relationship is perfect. You've probably seen firsthand how the absence of your web developer hurts your department when they go on vacation or miss time for any reason. What happens to your projects then? They probably all go on hold. Which is not their fault. It's yours.
Nonetheless, if you're happy you're ok. Right? Heck, all you need is love these days. That might be great for now, but what about later on? What if your web developer, who you are happily married to now, suddenly decides to go and see other people? What are you going to do? Sing My Heart Will Go On as your marketing-technology Titanic sinks? Because that's what will happen. All of the knowledge, code and logic of code is in your ex's brain and probably not documented very well. That will make it hard for anybody to come in after them and take their place. Believe me, turnover among web developers in marketing departments is extremely high. Further, their skills are usually in demand quite a bit. They are often the targets of Bobba Fett-like recruiters on LinkedIn and other places. If your web developer isn't being recruited then that's another problem because they are probably not very good.
How You Should Address Web Development Instead
Partner with an agency to address your web development needs. It's their job to develop websites, applications and mobile apps. As such, they will have the most skilled developers on their team already. They need them to stay competitive. These days, most agencies can give you access to an entire team of developers at a fixed monthly fee cheaper and without the emotional baggage of hiring a full-time employee anyway. Plus you can easily exercise a non-compete if you have trade secrets going into their hands or being coded. That's all quite common in the web development world. Usually it's an agency's job to take an internal marketing department strategy downfield anyways. This plays right into the ideal agency and marketing department relationship.
As marketing battles become more and more digital you are going to need the services of web developers. No doubt about it. However, there is no need for a shorthanded marketing team or small business to hire them in house. They aren't marketers, they are expensive to train and often keep critical business processes in their heads. Phase your web developer out or don't hire them in the first place. Instead, read this e-book on agile marketing and who to hire on your small marketing team.
About the Author
Sajeel Qureshi is the Vice President of Operations at Computan. Computan helps short-handed marketing departments, businesses and marketing agencies streamline marketing tasks by providing them affordable and reliable back-end support. He has a degree in business administration from St. Bonaventure University, and an MBA from Eastern Illinois University.