Introduction to Developer Marketing - Catchy

Part 1: What is Developer Marketing, and why does it matter?

Why Developer Marketing is Important

Without a developer marketing strategy, you’re falling behind your competition.

Developer Marketing is a set of aligned marketing initiatives to attract, connect and incentivize developers to build using your product or service.

Developers are a valuable audience. As technology and the web have evolved from Web1, Web2, and now into Web3, developer skills have never been more in demand. Because of increased competition and a limited developer population, securing engagement and advocacy with developers is essential to adopting tools and platforms. If you don't have a developer program, and your competitors do, your business will face a significant, potentially critical adoption challenge. It’s time to create a developer engagement plan.

Technology impacts every area of commerce, and there are significant rewards to be had across industries. The disruptive power of technology means that many others fail for every platform or technology that gains traction. As your engineers create leading solutions, your developer marketing team needs to establish developer engagement strategies to ensure the limited pool of developers rushes to your platform rather than your competitors. 

Winning the hearts and minds of developers is a journey. A long-term relationship with developers is more rewarding than a quick transaction. However, maintaining that relationship takes insight, ideas, and persistence. Don't be surprised if your developer advocates need to be convinced repeatedly. You don't need the best technology - strong support, excellent communications, and first-class engagement can lead to success.

What is a Developer?

And how do you start marketing to developers?

We should begin by asking a fundamental question before delving deeper into the world of developer marketing programs: what is a developer? You probably have an image in your head, but we think about “developers” broadly. Technical engineers or programmers are all developers of course, but still, we think of a developer as anyone involved in selecting tools and products for creating software or devices. We speak of developers as both individuals and organizations. 

Let's take a moment to think about all the people who could affect the choice of technology within a business - large or small. Whether they work for a large corporation or a student starting in their mom's garage, a coder or designer has a voice. How about system administrators, finance managers, or salespeople?

Creating software and devices involves diverse organizations, individuals, and decision-making processes, so our definition of "a developer" must be equally varied. Identifying your audience is crucial when considering your developer marketing strategy, or any strategy, for that matter. The people involved will vary from business to business and even from project to project, but here are a few to consider:

Hobbyist

Sometimes referred to as "bedroom coders" or "community developers," this population can be vitally important to the growth of technology. They select, adopt, and advocate technology because they believe in it. Passion is contagious. We like people that care.

Student

Computer science and engineering students learn their trade by experimenting with various tools and platforms (among other things), the best of which they will stick with throughout their careers. They are not only a great developer audience to influence, but their proximity to other students ensures buzz will spread quickly.

Startups

Small businesses often have tiny budgets and big dreams. Only the best will survive, but your developer tools and platforms could be the foundations on which they build the next Twitter, Tesla, or Nest Labs.

Creative Designers

Depending on your technology, creative teams can be influential developer advocates within a business. Your tools and platforms can positively or negatively impact the working lives of industrial designers, materials experts, graphic artists, UX, and interactive designers. Since they work closely with product management and engineering teams, they're a great audience to have on your side.

Engineers

Developers who work directly on your products and services are vital. For most businesses we support, they're the primary audience. Maybe they're still hobbyists and students of yesteryear, or perhaps they're working on community projects in their spare time on the side.

Product Managers

Product managers are interested in what's being developed with your technologies, even if they may not be as hands-on as developers. They need to feel confident that their engineering team has the right tools to meet the needs of the business or customer and a strong understanding of your product. They are responsible for bringing a product or product feature to market and are an essential audience to engage.

Business & Finance Managers

Someone has to pay the bills, right? It doesn't matter if the finance manager reviews the BOM (bill of materials), the supply chain analyst evaluates annual costs, or the finance director is accountable for the balance sheet. If you don't engage the money guys with stories about how you're helping them, then someone else will.

Your product may have many of these in your target audience. It’s likely, especially if you are targeting Enterprise clients that a group of people within an organization will influence the purchasing decisions. Mapping out the buyers journey and the builders journey, because they are very different, is one of the first steps in creating your developer go-to-market strategy. 

These are just a few examples of diverse audiences that can influence product selection. Each of these audiences can be further niched and targeted as required, but engineers are the number one priority for many businesses we support. They, too, can be segmented into an assortment of categories – traditionally by discipline. 

Developers can be defined in many different ways, perhaps referring more broadly to their focus:

  • Front End Developer
  • Game Developer
  • Full-Stack Developer
  • Back End Developer
  • Enterprise Developer
  • Systems Developer
  • IoT Software Developer
  • IoT Hardware Developer
  • Industrial IoT Developer
  • Maker

Identifying, understanding, and targeting the developer audience is the primary objective. When segmenting and prioritizing your audience, take time to understand what their needs are and make sure your developer marketing strategy reflects those needs. A variety of developer marketing tactics are needed to meet the varying needs of developers, so there may not be one approach that works for all.

We have many different ways of engaging developers, both for our own business and on behalf of our clients. We may be the first point of contact between an organization and a prospective individual developer. We might take a consultative role, advising a client on a product created to solve problems for developers. For some of the biggest tech companies on the planet, we develop marketing strategies to better serve their existing developer communities. We also provide logistical and practical assistance at developer events.

No matter the activity, our approach is based on an understanding of developer audience needs and how our clients' goals and technical solutions meet both developer and business objectives. To have a great conversation, you need to know who you're talking to and why they would be interested in what you have to say.

A Developer Marketing Framework

The six components of developer marketing

Experience has taught us that successful developer programs typically involve six interlocking components. Combined, they support a developer's journey from first impressions to becoming an informed, enthusiastic advocate. Each of these elements contributes to the success of a program. Take a look at FAMGA (Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon), and you will find five world-class developer programs integral to business ecosystems valued at billions of dollars.

To help audit and score the components of your developer marketing program, Catchy uses a bespoke Developer Marketing Framework.

The Framework consists of the following six components and subcomponents:

Value Proposition

  • Target audience
  • Competitive landscape
  • Developer journey
  • Developer motivation
  • Messaging

Portal

  • Developer experience (DX)
  • Support
  • Tech docs
  • Navigation
  • Onboarding

Content

  • Blogs and articles
  • Developer stories
  • Use cases
  • Newsletters
  • Whitepapers

Channels

  • Distribution
  • Social media
  • Email
  • Paid media
  • Campaigns

Community

  • Developer to developer (D2D)
  • Owned and 3rd party forums
  • Reward and student programs
  • Advocacy
  • Influencers

Events

  • Meetups
  • Hackathons
  • Contests
  • Sponsorships
  • Conferences

Even though it may seem like a lot of work, determining the right strategy for each of these six components is crucial to the success of a developer marketing program. However, it is rare for an organization to plan and launch all six components simultaneously. Every component has subcomponents. Some of these are essential for your program's launch, but others can be added as you scale.

Now that you know the six components of a developer marketing program, you can spend some time assessing your developer marketing maturity with your team.