When you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail. I’m a developer marketer and when I see products and services with capabilities that require technical acumen, I see a justification for dev marketing. I’m wrong in doing so, as the picture is bigger than that. Just because a developer will eventually use, i.e. implement, a product is not a strong enough justification to invest in building and managing a developer marketing competency. If that’s the case, what makes it a necessity?
Dev marketing, as we see it, is the collection of prioritized marketing tactics aimed at incentivizing third-party developers to choose to build with a particular tool or service. In order to justify investing in this type of business function, the organization needs to account for how it generates value. Simply put: what influence can the developer exert on the sales cycle. If the developer is simply a user with no say on what he or she gets to build with, your organization is not at a stage where it needs dev marketing.
Business stakeholders are placing a lot of trust in internal technical subject matter experts. While there is still a segment of the market that might ignore the needs and motivations of developers, it doesn’t take long before devs become a driving force in how the company thinks of its digital assets. If your P&L relies on legacy tactics and the imperative is to extract as much value from the old model as possible, dev marketing is not for you. Now, if your organization is not just looking for a lifeline until the inevitable, you must take a deeper look into how dev marketing works and start to building the competency.
Dev marketing begins by understanding the role of each developer persona. Each of these types of developers can impact every stage of the sales cycle, which has direct operational implications on both the pre and post-sales processes. Your organization will now be required to communicate a value proposition that helps developers to easily understand and realize the benefits you claim. From there, the offering must account for key factors that affect the expected developer experience. I often reiterate to our clients and colleagues that unless they are improving the dev cycle by at least an order of magnitude, they better make their products absurdly easy to plug into the developers’ workflow. Just opening an API or making an SDK available is not enough to declare you are embracing dev marketing as a core competency.
As I stated in the opening, I see lots of nails in this conversation. I believe that businesses unable to empower third-party developers will quickly become obsolete. Consumer expectation is growing at the fastest rate providers have ever witnessed. The wow factor of digital services is as ephemeral as ever. It is by harnessing the power of the collective network of builders that organizations can pragmatically respond to this new market reality. Dev marketing is how you operationalize a function that can help your organization extend the reach of its infrastructure. Establishing a dev marketing strategy is how you provoke, incentivize and embrace innovation.
We are not in the business of clicks and likes. Dev marketing embraces the agile manifesto and prioritizes working software above all.