Five Tips to Secure Buy-in for Your Developer Program

How to Secure Internal Buy-in for Your Developer Program

Technology firms increasingly depend upon third-party developers to turn their software and hardware tools into products that can be enjoyed by end users. It’s one thing to build a killer piece of technology, but it’s a different challenge altogether to grow wide scale adoption via third-party developers.

The result of this reliance upon developers is that they are now a core audience in any robust marketing plan. But developers as a whole distrust marketing; in fact, blatant marketing can even damage your relationship with developers. How then can large companies go about encouraging developers to work with their tools in an authentic, organic way?

We take as a given that developers love great technology. But equally important is making it as enjoyable and painless as possible for developers to build things based on this technology. That means backing up tools with developer resources such as showcase apps, deep-dive content, sandboxes and code samples. These should be combined with reliable developer support and a genuine sense of community. In other words, you need to avoid traditional marketing and instead grow a complete developer program – one that supports and engages developers by adding value at every touchpoint.

Now, that’s great in principle, but a comprehensive developer program takes significant time and money to achieve results. And as we all know, internal stakeholders and budget owners can often be impatient to see results. Consequently they can end up questioning the value of a developer program.

How then can you demonstrate the value of a developer program internally, in order to secure buy-in and budget from internal stakeholders? It’s a challenge that Catchy has helped a number of companies overcome in the past. Based on these experiences, the following is a selection of key steps that can help secure internal buy-in, and get everybody on board with a nascent third-party developer program:

  • Understand and clearly state what the developer program is trying to achieve. Too often we see a developer program positioned as an isolated marketing initiative within companies. Far more effective is to explain how the program fits within the context of overall business goals. By positioning the role of developers as directly related to other business goals, it becomes possible to frame the program within the interests of each individual stakeholder.

How can Catchy help? By helping you produce a strategic developer program marketing plan and messaging deck, demonstrating how the developer program fits into the objectives of the business as a whole.

  • Get to know how various parts of the business view developers differently. In order to identify how a developer program can support the goals of multiple business units, it’s essential to get to know those various areas and team members. Some team and individuals might feel that external developers are totally irrelevant. It’s only by asking the right questions that we can uncover the barriers and opportunities across the full breadth of the company.

How can Catchy help? By conducting a series of interviews with key stakeholders across your business, helping to identify how developers are perceived, and how the program can best be positioned to complement other areas of the business.

  • Get to know your developer audience. Whether we are talking about internal or external developers, having their direct feedback on your developer program, including technical products, content and support, is vital groundwork for informing your ongoing strategy. The counter-intuitive aspect here is that developers more than any other audience want to be treated like people, not like numbers.

How can Catchy help? By conducting a series of developer interviews (1-to-1) or a developer survey (1-to-many), we generate feedback and insight from the relevant audience. This  feedback can then form a core component of an internal to external developer landscape perspective.

  • Humanize your developers. Stakeholders who do not work directly with developers can often find it difficult to visualize who this audience is and what they look like. It’s also important to be aware that there is no single type of developer.

How can Catchy help? Based on research into your organization, and our knowledge of the developer landscape as a whole, we can generate a set of developer personas representing key developer types. When distributed among internal teams, these personas can help teams to perceive their audience, understand who is using their tech, and who makes up their developer community.

  • Demonstrate success by increments. Show the internal stakeholders and budget owners what has been achieved. Keep telling the story of how this is playing into the overall goals of the business.

How can Catchy help? We are experts in helping our clients produce internal success stories to justify their developer program. By producing regular internal presentations and updates, we help to demonstrate wins and secure incremental budget.

  • Keep an eye on the competition. Benchmark yourself against key competitors. Track these trends across time. As well as helping you understand the industry leaders, this also helps you avoid the pitfalls of complacency, which has seen the demise of many former tech giants.

How can Catchy help? An initial competitor analysis, followed by ongoing competitor reporting, provides clear perspective of the industry landscape, helping justify incremental budget and inspire fresh initiatives.

All too often we come across companies with a developer product which they are keen to push to market right away. They show little interest in fully coming to understand their audience and objectives. It’s hardly surprising when such companies struggle to gain traction with developers, or have budgets cut from their developer program because they failed to demonstrate success. Far more astute are those companies that appreciate the importance of the long-game in their developer strategy, and who build a solid foundation of knowledge upon which to grow a developer program, and demonstrating success one stage at a time.

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