What are the keys to getting started with a developer marketing program?
Key elements to building a developer marketing program are – relevant jargon-free content, a good understanding of target persona, segment developers based on business context, hands-on trial with access to expert support, medium for interaction i.e. communities, the ability for the audience to contribute - just to name a few. The emphasis of the program shouldn’t be about marketing, rather it’s more of creating awareness, build transparent communication, listening to devs, and helping them to innovate faster.
As marketers, we articulate how our products are solving business problems. Developers are the strongest influencers and if we can make them a champion for our products internally in their organizations, that is a huge success for the developer marketing program. In most cases, a single piece of content may not resonate with both developers and dev leaders / CxOs and that’s okay. You can have a bottoms-up campaign to cater to developers through a developer marketing program and a tops-down campaign targeting enterprise leaders, thereby delivering on your business goals.
Get crystal clear on the developer persona, and establish a framework for regularly updating it. I don't think there's any better use of your time than talking to folks 1:1 and using the way they frame value to write your own messaging framworks.
I would also take the time to clearly establish roles, boundries, and overlap with any DevRel or DevEx folks at your organization. What are the goals of each. Why are they different? In what ways are they the same? Ensure alignment with that group on core value, voice, and tone.
I think there are two areas to start with: where the user is working from and what use cases you can create. From a user experience POV, if you need to embed your tool into another system of record, that’s a good starting point. If your software is where your users are going to be working in, then the question I’d ask is if you have the resources to build all of the use cases that your customers may want. If you going to prescribe to an 80/20 rule where you’re able to build those use cases that appeal to the masses, then a developer platform where customers or external developers can solve for those last mile use cases, would also add value.
In terms of building the marketing program, Id start with that top level goal as that will help you drive your value prop and also help define why developers are coming to your platform.
From there I’d get into the details by uncovering what customer value developer offerings would bring, as you’d want to figure out how to market to developers while also planning for how to market what developers create. (Tip: keep these functions aligned, splitting up marketing to and marketing of developers is one of the biggest reasons where I’ve seen developer marketing fail)
As you build out your developer marketing team and function, keep a healthy mix of technical people that can speak to the API details and coding work but don't forget about core marketers who can speak to decision maker personas and can layer in the business value of the developer platform. Over-indexing on one or another will yield an underwhelming program.
And while being scrappy is great, its easier and faster to bring in an agency to do market research to find the answer to that hard question than it is to hire a candidate who has done the specific thing you do in the specific way you want to do it. Gravitate to speed towards the answer you need rather than needle-in-a-haystack domain expertise.
The key to getting started imho is alignment. This is especially important in B2B/B2C organizations where developer marketing may exist alongside a traditional marketing organization that's focused on the customer/buyer persona.
Developer marketing, as mentioned in some of the answers above, is not your traditional marketing discipline in that it's more focused on adoption and advocacy than revenue. If you are being asked to have an impact on revenue, you'll just need to make sure you're resourced for that.
Which underscores some of the other keys to getting started. Assuming alignment on goals, you'll also need to set your team up for success. That means a hiring plan and budget, as well as a handshake on what are shared resources and channels or not. Back to the point I made earlier about developer marketing requiring it's own verbal and visual identity, you'll want to make sure you can advocate for the cleanest developer experience as possible.
At Box, it took our team a bit of time to ensure that developer marketing was not just a hand-wavey thing. We all knew it was important, but no one in the organization had a clear sense of how to orchestrate it, so it was a hackathon here, a promo there at first. And that got us to some initial traction, but nothing to write home about. The biggest thing you can do as a developer marketing leader starting, is to draw up a plan that first focuses on alignment and then inspires with a vision for execution based on battle-tested programs and contents. Have fun with it. By the time we hit our 1 year mark and blew our API key growth goals out of the water, the entire team was rooting for us. I think most businesses, especialy in B2B, understand that the developer channel is existential to their business. What prevents them from reaching escape velocity is alignment and resourcing.
1. Create a community and push all your content towards that community.
2. Create a newsletter that devs get opted in to or sign up for (but follow those GDPR rules)
3. Spend time on good documentation. Good documentation is marketing in itself
4. Find your open source element to tap in to the open source community.
5. Comparison articles are powerful
6. Recruit your developers to write and publish the content (or hire dev rel, but not before your first PMM).