The Future Developer Summit brought together the leading players in the global developer marketing community last week. As an event sponsor, along with Accenture, Developer Media and GLG, we were able to take part in lively conversations and listen to best practice talks from industry experts. Participants included a number of Catchy clients past and current, including Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Qualcomm, Intuit, SAP and Oracle. This blog post like the whole event is governed by Chatham House Rules, we can talk about the content discussed but can’t attribute anything said to specific individuals or companies.
One of the most hotly debated sessions involved asking teams of developer program experts how they would spend $1,000,000, to further grow their theoretical established developer program. Each team placed bets on which element of a developer program they would spend their money. The debate was lively, with many of the long-standing challenges of developer marketing surfacing – what is the role of an evangelist, where does DevRel end and developer marketing begin, and even should you market to developers at all. Often there were no firm answers to these questions but, based on responses from developers SlashData was able to declare a winning team. An interesting exercise, which certainly raised more questions for me.
As a developer marketing agency, it’s Catchy’s role to help our clients meet their business objectives. The harsh reality is that those business objectives may not always align with those of developers. Great documentation and support are essential hygiene factors for any successful developer program, however, they alone will not always guarantee achieving your growth or engagement targets. For developer program success, you are likely to need some form of developer marketing. The example I used a few times was Ford asking buyers why they chose an F150 truck, popular answers might include the performance numbers, the load capacity and so on. An unlikely response from buyers would be because of the dealer network (although this may play a support role) or because of the TV ads. These responses won’t mean Ford would then disband its dealer network or stop running ads. Sure they work hard to improve the things buyers like, but they also continue to use marketing to drive awareness, brand recognition, and loyalty and ultimately sales.
Anyone looking to get their product adopted by developers should do the same thing. Yes, continue to work on documentation, support, onboarding and all the other factors that make up a great developer program, but don’t forget marketing. Marketing to developers uses different tools than marketing to truck buyers, we’re not suggesting a nationwide dealer network or Super Bowl ads to any of our clients. The principles are similar though – identify your target market, use messages that speak to their motivations and then amplify those messages using appropriate channels and campaigns. It’s a simple formula but it does work.
Our top 5 takeaways from the day:
- Developer tools, support, documentation, and tutorials are the essential table stakes for a developer program – spending money on developer marketing will likely fail without them in place
- Understanding the relative strengths and weaknesses of your developer program is essential when considering next steps for either growth or engagement
- Going beyond segments and personas, truly understanding developer motivation is key to product adoption
- Budget restrictions and market immaturity mean that starting small and trying multiple options is the favored approach for developer marketing today
- Content can still be King, focus on practical, reusable, snackable content in formats and channels that match the learning habits of your audience
We had a great time at the Future Developer Summit, it was great to see some familiar faces as well as some new. We’ll be back next year and we’re already looking forward to more conversations about the challenges faced in building, growing and managing developer programs.