Let The Engineers Do The Marketing.

On why you should never tie a specific initiative to a key result.

Luca Cipriani
4 min readFeb 25, 2024

Often time, when OKRs are first introduced in a company, both managers and individual contributors tend to understand them by matching them to existing best practices and habits within that organization.

That’s a normal stage of the adoption cycle — of course.

Today I will dive into one of the most common errors that organizations fall into during this stage, with an anecdote from my consulting experience.

A marketing problem?

I shared this story on the Dreams with Deadlines podcast before, it’s one of my favorites 👇

I was coaching a B2B technology company on the correct use of OKRs, and the whole team was excited about them — not just the management.

Their primary OKR was related to gathering more leads as the top of the funnel traffic was the main bottleneck to the growth of the whole company.

The OKR was worded somewhat like this:

Objective: Ensure a consistent pipeline of qualified leads for the sales team to work with.

  • Key result 1: Increase the number of warm leads from 5 to 15 per month.
  • Key result 2: Increase the percentage of introductory calls realising into contracts from 25% to 50%.
  • Key result 3: Decrease call to contract signed lead time from 10 to 5 weeks.
This lady and my client had something in common: they hated their current funnel :)

Traditionally, the effort of gathering leads was carried on by the marketing department through various initiatives (online campaigns, international conferences, lead magnets etc).

Now, with an OKR pointing directly to lead collection, the marketing team was feeling the pressure.

They felt they were the only team that could get the company the key results needed.

Thankfully, this wasn’t true.

Why am I even here?

The CMO had organised a special in-person session and was kind enough to invite me to brainstorm new initiatives around this OKR.

This is something very common for companies that are new to working with OKRs.

Usually, as soon as an OKR is published the department that traditionally owns those metrics/results will hurry to find an initiative that solves for that OKR.

By doing so, they marry a key result to a specific initiative and to a specific team.

That’s a dangerous game.

Anyway, I had asked the CMO to invite a few engineers to the meeting as well since I am convinced that no department should tackle an OKR alone.

He wasn’t thrilled at first, but he gave me permission.

How the CMO reacted when I told him to invite the engineers.

The engineers I invited stayed silent most of the meeting, probably bored out of their mind and wondering “Why am I even here?”.

But all of a sudden, while the marketing team was discussing how difficult it is to collect leads at international conferences, one of the engineers raised his hand:

😌 “You know sometimes I go to local tech meetups here in the city and I always walk out with a few emails of people interested in our product, I think one of them turned into a pretty big contract last quarter…”


Happy ending

During that meeting, a small budget was allocated to pay a few engineers to attend local tech meet-ups and practices.

That method proved effective, the product was exciting for the local tech audience, and the engineers were able to secure a lot of leads by casually explain what their product did and how it worked.

That quarter the company drove 2x the leads for a fraction of the budget. If you know anything about marketing, this is just short of a miracle.

This finding also had strategic implications, the company stopped sponsoring international conferences and started targeting tech enthusiasts in their advertising.

Let the engineers do the marketing

Look, most of the time the engineers won’t be of any use on your marketing efforts. Trust me, I’m an engineer 😅.

But that’s not the point — right?

The point is that OKRs are about getting the whole company thinking about one problem, and when this happens you might be surprised about the contributions you can get from the talents you have in-house.

Even if they are in a department you wouldn’t even invite to the meeting usually.

Nerd out links

  • Listen to my episode on Dream with Deadlines, where I first mentioned this story.
  • Read my analysis of what Unicorns have in common.
  • Copy some well written OKRs.

Thinking your OKR strategy might need a tweak? Let’s talk about it. You can always hit me up on LinkedIn, or follow me there for more content like this.

Ciao for now, 👋




Luca Cipriani

I’m an OKR coach for scale-ups and the Head of Engineering @ Jimdo (formerly CIO @ Arduino).