Reach technical audiences with your API, tool, or cloud service.
To get the attention of developers you need to educate and inspire them. In a way, there is no developer marketing. Anything that feels like hype or promotion makes a dev bristle.
But, of course, there are developer marketers. And developer marketing does exist. Developer marketing is how we get technical products in front of developers. It’s just that many of the approaches of traditional marketing won’t resonate with devs. And some marketing will send developers running the other way.
Elements of Developer Marketing
You’ll find all the elements of traditional marketing practiced with developers, as well. Some will work better than others. The most common elements of those successfully marketing to developers include:
- Developer content: authentic blog and similar content written on a consistent basis.
- Documentation: this particular type of content rarely shows up in traditional marketing, but must be top-notch for devs.
- Source code: from sample applications to open source, code will get a dev’s attention.
- Tutorials and guides: a part of documentation, but often forgotten in an effort to provide an accurate reference.
- Events: attend, speak at, and sponsor developer events–just make sure to maintain that authentic voice.
- Advertising: yes, even advertising can work, as long as your message is crafted to resonate with devs.
- Social media: beyond Twitter and Facebook, this should include the platforms–including developer-specific services–where your audience spends time.
You’ll no doubt find other areas to consider, but remember that each of them require the same approach: your interactions with developers should educate and inspire rather than pitch and convert.
Dev Marketing Solves Problems
Developers rarely go in search of a new tool without knowing how they’ll use it. Certainly, dabbling and experimenting is part of dev life, but even there it’s important to have an idea of practical use. Your dev marketing should start from an understanding of how your developer product solves developer problems.
It’s difficult to do this without understanding the audience. Many dev-focused marketing teams get help to create the right content and other materials for developers. They partner with internal teams, such as developer relations, tech writers, or even engineering. Often, they’ll hire external writers to create content on a regular schedule. Some even look within their own community, as long as there’s a process to vet and review the member’s work.
Seek out the problems that your developer product solves. Show you understand those problems, then help developers solve them. If you can do this in an authentic way, developer products come along for the ride.
That means stay away from anything that reads like marketing. Paradoxically, that’s when you’ll be doing your best developer marketing.
API Marketing Should Focus on Use Cases
API marketing is an area of developer marketing where the product is an API. Think of Twilio, Stripe, or any other APIs every developer needs to know. The API is a developer tool, just as installed software or infrastructure.
Often, companies with these multi-purpose APIs don’t want to limit developer imagination. “You create anything with our API,” they might say. This is a mistake.
Enlightened developer marketers will give developers ideas of the most common ways their APIs are used. These use cases become the problems and solutions that help spark the developer imagination. You need to bring your API down to reality to begin to inspire and educate developers.
Regardless of the elements in your developer marketing, you need an approach that resonates with developers. Then create the content–blog posts, documentation, tutorials, code, and more–from that developer point of view.