Can you describe the scope of what you do at Catchy?
Within the consulting team, we handle all the strategic work for our clients’ developer marketing programs. We are typically involved right from the beginning of new projects, running a discovery phase consisting of various activities such as stakeholder interviews, qualitative and quantitative developer research, data analysis, competitive audits, which we bring together to form go-to-market strategies. In addition to developer marketing strategy, I have my eye on the horizon in terms of potential new areas of consulting for Catchy, and new products and services we can offer as an agency.
We asked Tom a few questions to highlight a few of his experiences at Catchy. Here’s what he had to say.
Which Catchy value do you strongly resonate with and why? (Collaborative, Fluid, Inclusive, Accountable)
Collaborative. I highly value the diversity of skills and talent we have at Catchy. My favorite projects are those that involve collaboration across all our teams, drawing upon all our various skill sets to produce work that is far greater than the sum of its individual parts.
What do you like about working with Catchy?
In most roles, especially in large tech companies, I have found that you are put in a fairly small box, with a narrow remit of responsibility. At Catchy, I get to stretch lots of different mental muscles, from analyzing data to working with visual design, and balancing qualitative and quantitative research methods. This year alone I’ve enjoyed the variety of conducting dozens of stakeholder interviews, wireframing web pages, delivering user research workshops, writing tone-of-voice frameworks, as well as delivering strategy projects in a variety of industries including blockchain, communications, banking, and academic research. I love that I get to interact with a lot of very smart people doing exciting things on a daily basis.
Beyond the work we do, Catchy has brought together a wonderful team of genuine and lovely people. It is a cliché for agencies to talk about being “one big family”, so I’ll avoid that, but I love that I get to work with a bunch of extremely talented people who also happen to be great friends.
How did you start doing developer marketing?
Prior to working at Catchy, I ran content marketing for Amazon Kindle in the UK. In 2013, Amazon relocated their offices to central London, prompting me to make a move in the opposite direction to Bath in the West of England. I was introduced to Richard, which led to me first starting work in developer marketing. I subsequently worked for several years in website development and then on a huge digital transformation project for the UK’s Intellectual Property Office, before returning to Catchy (and developer marketing) in 2021.
What do you love about developer marketing?
I think “developer marketing” is a particularly compelling paradox: developers can be averse to traditional marketing techniques, but developer marketing can help solve very real and complex problems. Consequently, marketing to developers is far more nuanced than most other forms of marketing, requiring the careful balance of clarity, usability, and accessibility, while also avoiding making any unsubstantiated claims about what a product or technology can do. It appeals to me that developer marketing strategy is iterative (much like digital product development) in that it follows a cyclical process of generating hypotheses, testing with data, and then iterating the strategic approach.
At an organizational level, I enjoy how developer marketing taps into all levels of a company’s strategy, from C-level objectives down to tactical campaign execution. I appreciate how we get to work across all areas of an organization, and our opinion is valued because we’re the experts at representing developer needs, and at translating corporate hyperbole into tangible developer solutions.
How has developer marketing changed over the past 2 years and how do you think it will change in the next 2 years?
The pandemic caused a shift in how we all work, and changed how developers build, learn, and collaborate. We have seen a significant increase in remote hackathons, as well as growth in popularity for online learning platforms and self-directed technical training. We’re also seeing the wax and wane of various social channels, with Facebook dropping out of favor with developers, Tiktok emerging as a significant new search tool for younger developers, and both Slack and Discord becoming established as prominent hubs for online communities.
Over the last two years it feels like developer marketing has finally come of age. We’re now seeing a large increase in companies recognizing the value of developer marketing, as well as the importance of adapting their business models to support developer innovation. Demand for developer marketing services has shifted away from mobile app acquisition towards API integrations across a wide range of industries, and of course the emergence of development opportunities across web3, AI, and ML.
Looking ahead, I’m fascinated by the explosive growth of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), and I spent the first half of the year interviewing AI developers and product owners to better understand their perspectives concerning what’s coming. This year we’ve already seen a massive spike in the popularity of AI content generation tools, with AI now capable of producing high-quality writing, images, and video. Looking beyond content creation, AI and ML are increasingly being used by developers to write or edit code, such that 3% of Google code is now written by AI.
Despite all the potential efficiencies and benefits of AI, this kind of automation carries substantial risk - there are countless notable examples of algorithmic decision-making gone wrong. As a result, developers now carry a significant burden of responsibility to ensure they are not developing AI irresponsibly or unethically, which is not a simple problem to solve. Over the coming years, as AI regulation starts to emerge, we are going to see an increasing demand for tools to help developers ensure that AI is developed responsibly and fairly. Just like any other developer tools, in order to work well and to be adopted by developers, these will need to be practical, easy-to-use, and capable of integration directly into development workflows.
Any recommendations for things to read, to listen to, or subscribe?
The Ezra Klein Show is my favorite podcast, covering an extraordinary range of topics including neuroscience, philosophy, politics, and psychology. The recent episode on the philosophy of games is highly recommended.
Cory Doctorow’s blog, pluralistic.net, is a frequent destination for me. He dives in extraordinary detail into tech topics ranging from hacking John Deere tractors to the perils of smart dishwashers, but in particular his recent teardown of Tory Britain is absolutely on point.
Lastly, I’ve got to plug McSweeney’s Quarterly as my favorite physical book. I’ve been collecting them for years, and every edition is an absolute gem, combining unique print design with wonderful writing. These books are a healthy reminder that some publications are impossible to reproduce in digital formats.
Give me 1 hint to find your pet on the Catchy website.
She’s a snooty hors d'oeuvre.