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The Wavelength Conflict Theory and The Full Stack Dilemma

Have you ever wondered why conflict may exist between marketers and programmers in tech startups? I coin this as The Wavelength Conflict Theory.


The Wavelength Conflict Theory: “A marketer and a programmer do not think on the same wavelength. A non-technical founder (NTF) may lack respect for ‘how’ a product is built. A programmer (TF) looks for instant growth due to their thought process …


Marketing a product and building a product both take time, creating conflict between the two parties involved – on such a simple issue as – ‘not seeing eye-to-eye.’

The Wavelength Conflict Theory

The Wavelength Conflict Theory by Luke Fitzpatrick @iamwormify

This all comes down to expectations. Take a second and think about it – a programmer cannot (well most) build a product in one day. Likewise, it’s unrealistic for a marketer to obtain massive growth in one day. Both of these, take time to develop.


This is why conflict can arise due to the different ways that programmers and marketers think. They operate on different wavelengths.


Just like a mathematician operates on a different wavelength, so to does an artist. In tech startups the same thing happens.


Equal time: If it takes you three or six months to build a product, you should spend at least the same amount of time marketing it beforehand. Marketing and coding go hand-in-hand. There is no use building a product that people cannot find; or, do not know about. This might sound pretty simple – what’s scary? Most do not do this.


Nietzsche on conflict: “It is not conflict of opinions that has made history so violent but conflict of belief in opinions, that is to say conflict of convictions.”


This is not to say that conflict is ‘violent’ between founders but to illustrate conflict exists around convictions, formed by beliefs.


Time to build, time to market: If there is a major gap lacking from when the product has been marketed and built – likely conflict will exist. I have witnessed the same scenario play out a bunch of times. It all starts with a full stack developer as the Founder, which brings me to my next which I call The Full Stack Dilemma:


“The Full Stack Dilemma – defined as a single technical founder with the build-it ship-it mentality.”


A full stack founder often just builds it, and ships it. Then that defining moment comes, “Oh, nobody knows about us, we are not getting any web traffic, our sign ups and conversions suck. I should get a marketing cofounder to fix this problem.” Most times, this is when the wavelength theory comes into play.


A lot of technical founders (TF’s) have the mentality of seeing code. If they want to do something, they’ll just write some code off to handle the task. Marketing on the other hand, has too many variables involved, not to mention 19 channels and rigorous testing.


Since, it can be hard for a programmer to see or understand this – conflict may arise. TF’s want to see immediate results, like code. “I code this, it does XYZ – finished. Why can’t you do the same?” Marketing is not the same as programming.


On the other hand, many marketers lack appreciation of technical founders. Why don’t you do this? Why don’t you do that? This creates further conflict.


A front-end founder vs. a full-stack founder: Paul Graham wrote that often the best founders are full stack developers. Even though it is undeniably useful to have a full stack dev as a founder / cofounder – it’s of my opinion it can do more harm, than good. Let me explain …

  1. Front-end founder.
  2. Full stack founder.
  3. Full stack founder.


Make sure you click on the links to check them out.


By taking a look at the above sites, can you notice the difference between the design, web copy and layout? There is a big difference. Not only does a CMO & a full stack think differently – but front-end developers think on a different wavelength too.


So, what’s this Full Stack Dilemma all about:

  • Builds it, ships it without doing any marketing. May lack in customer feedback and validation.
  • Front end design and web copy may impact on user experience. This may come with the “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it mentality.”
  • Hacker mindset. Quite often a full stack will just take bits of code from here and there, jam it together and release a more often than not ‘buggy product.’
  • A full stack dev founder, thinks on a different wavelength to marketing cofounders and front-end founders. This may create conflict in founder relationships.
  • Forms a team too late as they’re too busy coding – missing the key opportunity to pre-market their product.


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Categories: CMO, Coding, Full Stack Dilemma, Marketing, NTF's, Shushnote, Startup Theory, Startups, TF's, The Wavelength Theory

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1 Comment

  1. Hello Luke,

    I am Internet Marketer. Your mentions the points in between thinking of marketer and programmer is right. Because they not understand our points for marketing purpose. Thanks for share with us.

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