I spend a lot of time with dev tool and data companies. I think I’ve more or less banished myself to a life of working in the space, no consumer products for me. In that world a common topic that comes up amongst marketing teams is how do I get my team to contribute to content? Sometimes the person already has an idea of how they want the team to jump onto the bandwagon of their plan, sometimes they’re entirely open minded. I won’t get into pros and cons of various approaches here, rather after sharing some of my approaches in one on one settings I thought it could be useful to share more broadly here.
Marketing often feels like a dirty-icky thing to many developers. Well until you feel like you have a great product, but no one using it then you have to get a crash course in all of that. And while I might cover some of the actual basics in the future, just knowing what marketing people actually mean when they’re talking can be a huge jump start. Here’s a guide that distills many of the acronyms and terms down to what they actually mean in reality.
I recall extremely early stage where you’d build a feature, realize it was awesome, then the next day write a blog post for it. At some point you start to move from that to more coordinated launches. A larger coordinated launch allows you to reach a bigger audience, can lead to bigger deals, and help expand your overall market. But perhaps more importantly by the time you hit full launch you’ve message tested and ensured it’s going to resonate in the way you expect.
The process itself will both help amplify and validate/refine your message
This is often a more gradual process than a sudden single change, you’ll introduce new parts of this in time. And for many what an entire launch process looks like comes by trial an error, to help shorten that learning curve here’s key areas I pay attention for a launch and process followed by a rough timeline.
Marketing is generally unexciting to a ton of engineers, until it brings eyeballs which bring feedback and dollars. Marketing doesn’t have to always be cheesy campaigns or ads, it can often just be surfacing the things your customers actually do want to care about. My favorite type of marketing is when a service sells me on something at the exact time I want it. Here’s a few short tips on some non-traditional marketing that won’t seem sleezy but still can work quite well.
Last week I wrote up some initial steps for getting started with marketing a developer focused product. The short of it was quite trying to do “marketing” and just start putting out interesting material. A big part of this is sourcing material from your company’s developers. From there you want to gradually shift it from simply interesting technical posts to things that align with your core beliefs and add value to your customers.
Perhaps the easiest way to do this is by highlighting some examples of it.
Commonly at developer focused companies the question from a marketing team will come up of “How do we get content that developers find interesting”? Or how can I get our developers to blog more? Or some other similar question. I general the question of creating content and engaging with developers is a very common one, and often theres a mismatch between what marketing wants to do and what developers appreciate.
Forget trying to “market” to developers. Hopefully you at least have developers that believe in the product their building, if thats not the case then find a new product or a new team. If you’ve got a product targetted at developers and a team that believes in it then you’re already half way there to marketing it. Now back to the first point, forget trying to market it. Start with building some form of an audience, reputation, respect among other developers. This isn’t done through ads, email marketing, SEO or any of that. Its done by creating content that developers find interesting, as a first step forget your product entirely, but don’t worry we’ll get there soon enough.
Following up on my earlier post about CX or Conference Experience – I’m going to dig in a bit on how you get good conversation to happen. In the past two years I’ve been to nearly 20 conferences, I’ve been to conferences with great talks, with great parties, with great swag, and hands down my favorite conferences have always been a result of great conversation. With the number of talks that are recorded and immediately available online after, what can I say I’m a hallway track guy.
I’ve seen a number of conferences intentionally design around this concept, in some ways the unconference is purely a hallway track conference. I’ve also seen conferences that weren’t clearly planned for this and have pulled off some of the best situations where people turn their phones off and engage in real conversation.
A couple of weekends ago I had the great opportunity to attend lessconf. It was an all around great conference, and as a result of the greatness I ended up having a conversation with a few people around conference experience. I must give much of the credit to Swift, as he mentioned he’d already been thinking alot about this since Waza. In general it feels like there’s a few key themes that any conference should focus on, then a lot of small things that can really push it over the top. Here’s a few:
In general the key areas for any great conference are:
- Great people
- Ensuring communication happens
- Bonus points
Digging in deeper on the first area…
The first area I tend to think about when it comes to developer marketing is around advocates. A simple definition of an advocate is someone that speaks/writes in favor of some thing.
Creating advocates is a means of creating more of myself to go out and talk loudly and ideally effectively. However, they do take time to cultivate and it is a hard item to track. But by cultivating advocates I’m able to scale what would otherwise be a bottleneck of my own personal time.
As developers we can tend to be a fickle bunch; especially in certain open source communities. We like to see intelligence and systems applied to things, hope for a better world through making things open, and appreciate when others relate to our world as we often attempt to relate to theirs. Marketing is often a loaded word when it comes to developers – leaving mixed feelings about webinars, email campaigns, and the like.
A quick clarification in terms of marketing I’m referring to product marketing, but of a technical product. This is based on the idea that developers are the new kingmakers and when marketing a product to them it needs to be done differently.