How to Market to Developers As a Product Marketer
Marketing to developers is a unique and challenging task as they have different values, beliefs, and personas.
Unlike ordinary consumers, developers require specific persuasion techniques to buy a product or to build something using the solution provided.
As a product marketer, even if you have a B2B (Business to Business) or B2C (Business to Consumer) experience, that won't necessarily translate into B2D (Business to Developer) marketing. When marketing to developers, you’re not just trying to get them to buy something, you’re asking them to make a commitment to whatever solution you are offering them.
Developers tend to be passionate about whatever they are building. They want to work on projects that have a real-world impact and are constantly looking for ways to learn and stay up-to-date with the latest technologies and trends. They tend to struggle to communicate the benefits of the technology they are working with to non-technical people. They often feel isolated, avoid conflict, and therefore value being part of a community that shares their passion and interests.
The challenge with marketing to developers and engineers is that they tend to be highly intelligent, and more resistant to marketing strategies that would normally work on typical consumers. Traditional marketing techniques like hype, FOMO, and other methods do not always work on developers. However, they respond well to authority and community building.
Developers are still human, and when marketing to developers, one must remember to appeal to their values, present information in a problem/solution framework, and provide educational resources.
To effectively market to developers, it's crucial to prioritize knowledge, align brand values, and establish trust through transparency. One can adopt several helpful tactics, such as developing a developer portal, offering support resources, and collaborating with respected organizations and influencers.
Marketing Is More Than “What”
Most of the developer-led projects and startups that I’ve worked on obsessively focus on “what” their product is, and hyper-focus their communication, and messaging on the “what”.
Focusing on “what” your product is simply does not work, yet I’ve seen it over and over again from Web3 projects to SaaS companies. Even companies that have raised series A funding and even sometimes series B companies still have this problem until they hire a product marketer.
They almost always forget the “who” (or personas of the users) and often struggle to communicate “how” their product is different. They rarely include “why” their product solves a problem (or what problem they are even solving). Developers assume because they are a developer themselves, that naturally other developers will just magically understand what they’re working on, but the reality is even understanding another developer's code is like trying to read someone else’s handwriting. It gets even more convoluted when trying to understand someone else’s vision, mission, problem, solution, and of course the technical details when all you’ve done is tell them what they built, and not how others can use it as well.
To market to developers, you have to appeal to values, present information in a “problem/solution” dialectic or pain point and supporting argument framework, and not insult them with traditional consumer marketing techniques.
Many developers will not spend the time and energy figuring out the what of your product, until after they’ve emotionally decided to invest in your product. That’s why opening with “what” doesn’t work. You have to articulate the problem you’re solving for them, how you are solving this problem for them, and explain the value you are creating for them by relieving whatever pain or discomfort they’re feeling. Match this with brand or operating values they can relate to, and make them feel like if they use your solution they will belong to a community, and you’ve now convinced them to try your product.
Developers Are Driven by Empathy
Developers have radically different values than most consumers and hold these values extremely tightly. Some of the values the majority of developers tend to relate to are authenticity, accuracy, transparency, security, community, collaboration, and inclusivity. Developers want to build a more fair and equitable world where they belong to something and no longer feel isolated. On the other hand, they tend to quickly surrender to authority, as developers tend to be conflict-avoidant. This is why social proof (especially from an authoritative source like a professor, doctor, or scientist), community building, and educational content are key to reaching developers. While also purposely avoiding traditional B2C, and B2B marketing techniques that might make them skeptical of what you’re offering.
Developers highly value knowledge and are particularly receptive to rapid access to information without a lot of sales materials. In order to effectively market to developers, it is imperative to prioritize the provision of ample educational resources, provide information that has been validated by credible sources, and offer solutions that directly address their pain points. It is crucial to concentrate on presenting how your products or services alleviate their challenges and solve their problems.
To win over developers you have to build a community that developers can belong and relate to. As a product marketer, you need to build trust with said community through clear communication, transparency, and values-aligned messaging. Developers tend to be skeptics, and you have to find ways to overcome their skepticism and build trust through educational materials and support resources. It also helps to build credibility through partnerships with trusted organizations, influencers, and trusted authorities.
This often means creating a developer portal or using developer-friendly platforms like Github. Find what tools developers are already using, and figure out how to drive product-led growth by interacting with tools developers are already using. The purpose of a developer portal is to have a place for developers to visit on your website that doesn’t speak down to them or insult their intelligence or even really try to sell them on anything. The purpose is to help them get to the information they are looking for as quickly as possible in a clean and simple experience.
Marketing to developers is about values, community, education, and using pain points and supporting argument messaging frameworks that appeal to the problem-solving nature of how engineers think. Your goal is to convey how your solution relieves their pain, builds trust, cuts through their skepticism, and makes them feel like they can belong to a community if they use your product.
Marketing to developers is a unique and challenging task.
Developers require specific persuasion techniques to buy a product or build something using the solution provided.
Traditional marketing techniques do not always work on developers, but they respond well to authority and community building.
To market to developers, you have to appeal to values, present information in a problem/solution framework, and provide educational resources.
Prioritize knowledge, align brand values, and establish trust through transparency to effectively market to developers.
Articulate the problem you’re solving for them, how you are solving this problem for them, and explain the value you are creating for them by relieving whatever pain or discomfort they’re feeling.
Match brand or operating values they relate to, and make them feel like if they use your solution they will belong to a community.
Developers have different values and hold these values extremely tightly such as authenticity, accuracy, transparency, security, community, collaboration, inclusivity, and equity.
Building a community that developers can belong to and relate to is key to winning over developers.
Educational content, social proof, community building, and avoiding traditional B2C, and B2B marketing techniques are key to reaching developers.
It is crucial to concentrate on presenting how your products or services alleviate their challenges and solve their problems.
Create a developer portal or use developer-friendly platforms like Github to drive product-led growth.
Find what tools developers are already using, and figure out how to interact with those tools.
Overcome skepticism and build trust through educational materials, support resources, and partnerships with trusted organizations, influencers, and authorities.
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