Creating a Compelling Developer Value Proposition

Developer marketers should test, evaluate, and iterate their value propositions.

A developer value proposition is a concise and powerful statement that defines the value of your product or service for your developer audience. 

It is no secret that developers are sensitive to marketing fluff and time-wasting. Therefore, your value proposition must convey:

  • What is the motivation for a developer to use your product
  • Why your product or service exists
  • Who it’s for
  • Why it succeeds

Though creating a value proposition may sound easy, it takes thought, testing, and iteration to create one that is compelling. It can be challenging to convey the essence of a product or service to developers in a few sentences. Taking the time to compose a clear and focused value proposition statement pays dividends over time.

We highlight some examples of companies creating a single sentence value proposition, a tagline in effect. Your value proposition may not be that. It could be a paragraph or few sentences, or even a bullet point list. Your value proposition, in this case, is used to define your marketing messages across all of your materials. 

A value proposition is vital in communicating internally to your team and externally to developers. It can also play a key role in product and service development. As you define your development roadmap, you should evaluate how it aligns with your value proposition. Ask yourself, “Does feature X enhance or undermine our value proposition?” Sometimes the most straightforward questions can cut through hours of debate on resource allocation and investment decisions.

To illustrate this point, let’s look at some examples from the world of developer marketing.

Pinterest Developers

Pinterest enables you to discover, collect, and share products, ideas, and trends through images and videos. The company's developer portal explains its purpose with a brief value proposition statement: "Build apps with the world's inspiration platform." Notably, the statement communicates both the scale of the company and the passion of its users.

Box Developers

Box, an enterprise cloud storage platform, keeps things simple at its developer portal. "Build experiences with Box Platform" may not seem the most creative value proposition. However, it explains the product (Box Platform) and what developers can build (Experiences).

Box could do more to articulate the benefits of their service or how it is different by focusing on the "why," not the "what." But overall, the proposition is clear.

SAP Concur Developer Center

Concur is a leading provider of travel and expense management solutions. The developer portal headline asks, “Want a better spend management experience? Challenge accepted.” This value proposition focuses on the opportunity available to developers using its APIs and platform. The company communicates the benefits of its solution in a statement that promotes confidence in its technology.

Concur's developer marketer team provides more context in additional statements under the main headline. “Together we can deliver innovative solutions for your own organization or across the 48 thousand companies who use SAP Concur for travel booking, expense reporting, and accounts payable processes. What can we help you build today?” It’s here that Concur emphasizes the reach and scale of its solution, so developers are inspired to build with their APIs.

Creating Your Value Proposition

Help developers understand why your product is essential.

There is no magic formula for creating a dazzling value proposition, but there are guidelines. And remember, you may not end up with a single tag line like the example above. Instead, your value proposition may be a few sentences or bullet points. This type of value proposition becomes a north star within your business. You should ensure that your marketing messages speak to the value proposition you have agreed to.

Here is one path you could take.

Step 1: Identify Your Benefits

List the significant benefits your products and services provide developers. Small campaigns can also serve as qualitative tests so that you can compare multiple value proposition statements and measure how well they perform in a targeted audience. You don't have to boil the ocean. Less can be more. Identify the core benefits that matter most to your developers. If you already have developers using your product, then ask them. Your team will learn so much from developers who already use your product and help you hone the value proposition statement to resonate with your target audience.


Step 2: Identify the Value You Create

Your product or service benefits developers in some way. Why should they care? How do you add value to the developer community? Are you saving or making developers time or money? Do you offer something truly innovative? Are you simply giving developers a chance to forget about their worries and laugh aloud once in a while? 

From the outside, some value propositions might seem boring. Even highly technical and complex value propositions carry emotional equity for their intended audience. Maintain discipline and find ways to communicate value in ways that resonate with developers.


Step 3: Identify Your Audience

Define who your product or service is for. The first response is often "for developers," but this rarely leads to a well-articulated value proposition. Knowing who you're talking to makes it much easier to figure out how to communicate. It is equally essential when it’s time to take your developer program out into the world.


Step 4: Identify Your Difference

Why you? In the words of the song, “It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it. And that’s what gets results”. You may have a product or service that isn't hip but is valuable to your developers. Concur is a good example. But how you deliver your message can help you stand out from the crowd.


Step 5: Craft the Value Proposition Statement 

Start to build a statement that summarizes your thinking. You won’t nail it in one attempt. Use different words or expressions to clarify your purpose or express your value.

You can find excellent value proposition templates online to help structure your developer value proposition, but don’t be constrained by them. Write many versions and try them before settling on the best one.

Many marketers find inspiration from Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs if they have difficulties identifying the need for their product or service.

Evaluating Your Value Proposition

Test, evaluate, and iterate.

You have thoughtfully crafted your value proposition. How can you tell if it's compelling? You can try multiple iterations across different media to gather qualitative and quantitative feedback. Share your value proposition with a few trusted developers and gauge their response. The statement must be compelling for various audiences - developers, partners, employees, and perhaps even shareholders. 

Evaluate your value proposition against the following criteria:


Is your developer value proposition statement clear about what you do, who it's for, and how it's different from the competition?


A clear statement is crucial to engaging your developer audience. Does your product description make sense? What impact will it have on developers’ lives? Does your product sound valuable to developers when they hear its value proposition?


Knowing your target developer audience, their needs, and how you can meet them will give your business a clear direction. If your value proposition is unambiguous, you will save time and money in developing features, products, or other services that are irrelevant to your target developers.


Confidence comes from clarity and direction. Value propositions should be positive, motivating statements that align the business to focus on the right developers and the right products.

Now that you have a compelling value proposition, you're ready to take the next step in building your developer program: Community. In the next part of our Developer Marketing Guide, we’ll discuss the role of your brand in community building and how to engage developers in the community.