Marketing to developers

Marketing to developers is a topic I find fascinating and think about a lot. Whether you’re attempting to sell a SaaS subscription, dev tooling, a cloud platform, a course/book or consulting services, you need to understand the complex needs and desires of individual developers and their organisations.

In fact, even calling it marketing can be a turn-off. I bet a few of you winced at the sheer mention of “marketing” and “sell” in that first paragraph! In his book Developer Marketing Does Not Exist, Adam DuVander makes this exact point — developer marketing needs to be invisible and not appear at all like marketing. Think blog posts that don’t try to upsell, but simply aim to be helpful.

Another interesting angle on developer marketing comes from Shawn Wang. Traditional marketing (to non-developer audiences) recommends talking up the benefits (how something will improve your situation) and playing down the features (the specific implementation details on how these benefits will be achieved). Shawn says this is flipped on its head for the skeptical-leaning developer audience:

One thing I’ve consistently had to relearn in developer marketing: “Talk benefits, not features” doesn’t work! Developers are sick of vague promises and wary of black boxes. — @swyx on Twitter

I thought I’d share a few good examples of developer marketing I’ve seen in the serverless ecosystem.

Firstly, Serverless Stack (SST) have a subtle but powerful tagline on their homepage which I recently heard them mention in their virtual conference:

Helping you go from idea to IPO

The message that an application platform will grow with my startup and I won’t need to eject or go elsewhere once I hit a certain scale is a very compelling one IMO.

Secondly, Begin have an amazing wall of undifferentiated heavy-lifting tasks, cheekily titled Just look at all the 💩 you’re not doing anymore by building with Begin.

Begin.com's wall of undifferentiated tasks

What’s the best example of developer marketing you’ve experienced?

— Paul

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