Reflections on Ten Years of Catchy Developer Marketing

Catchy started ten years ago in January 2010. It’s been an amazing journey and this post tells the story of how Catchy got started in developer marketing, a little about what we’ve learned and how things have changed along the way.

The developer program world looked very different back in 2010. It was dominated by a small number of big players, the iPhone was still a relatively new kid on the block and even the Apple and Android programs weren’t the powerhouses they are today. One of the biggest at the time was Nokia, they were still pushing Symbian and were fighting on all fronts to keep the new entrants at bay. 

This kind of environment can provide rich pickings for an agency, and so it was for Catchy. Although it started as a mobile and technology marketing agency, it quickly became obvious, with our new blue-chip client Nokia, that there was a huge unserved opportunity in developer marketing and developer program management. In less than a year we were entirely focused on helping our clients build, grow and manage their third-party developer programs, developer marketing. 

We weren’t the first, I’d say our friends at WIP have that distinction. However, especially after we opened our Seattle office in 2014 we became one of the biggest and best-known developer marketing agencies, in what is, admittedly, a fairly small and specialized field.

We grew quickly and matched our offer to the market. At one point we ran a full telemarketing outreach call center, but we stayed focused on developer marketing. That focus enabled a modest-sized agency to quickly compile a client list which would be the envy of much larger agencies. Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, SAP, IBM, and many more global brands have been and are Catchy clients.

The Evolution of Developer Marketing

So what has changed during the last ten years? Most notably marketing to developers has become much better understood as a discipline within the wider marketing space. It’s now well accepted that marketing to developers is difficult and that they are a fickle audience with a low tolerance threshold for some of marketing’s more basic tactics. I used to apologize for being in developer marketing now I hold my head up high, calling it the highest form of marketing.  If you can market to developers, you can market to anyone. 

Second, we’ve seen the rise of developer relations or devrel. While we see this as an entirely different space to developer marketing, there’s some perceived overlap. Debate rages in the industry about where the lines are drawn. For us, it’s relatively simple. Developer Marketing drives developers to join your community, devrel teams play a supporting role in that objective. Devrel teams manage and support your community, developer marketing plays a supporting role in that objective. Neither should be considered more important than the other, they are different.

Finally, the profile of our clients has changed. If you’d said to me as recently as two years ago our clients would include names like Avis, Dow Jones, Barclays and Bose I would have dismissed the idea. But now these types of businesses are looking at how to take advantage of the open innovation economy and extend the usage of their products and data beyond their in house built applications. 

Then there’s the rise of the DevTech industry. Start up and scale up businesses who are extending their reach through offering API access to their platforms or in some cases are focused entirely on attracting developer users.

For Catchy this has meant that we’ve evolved our offering to meet the needs and demands of these segments. Clients with large established programs usually know what they want us to do for them, create content, competitor analysis, contest management, campaign delivery. The newer style clients often aren’t sure what they need/ For them we’ve evolved a developer marketing audit and go to market strategy service that is usually where we suggest they start. I’m sure our client profile and service offerings will evolve again in the coming years.

If you’re reading this as someone who’s recently discovered Catchy, welcome. If you’re an ex-client, someone who worked here or a friend of Catchy, thank you. We’re looking forward to the challenges and changes ahead in the next decade of developer marketing.


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