The Go-to-Market Channels Every Developer Marketer Needs

A quick guide to five essential awareness-building channels.

As a developer marketer, you face a difficult challenge: getting your products into the hands of an audience who prefers to find solutions organically (aka without you).

And this attitude isn’t just prevalent with your developer audience. Your developers might be convinced the product sells itself.

Let’s pause for the commiserative eye-roll. Even the greatest products do not sell themselves.

Product success is nearly always the result of a thoughtful go-to-market strategy that addresses three key questions: What are we selling? Who are we selling to? And how are we going to get it to them?

In this post, we’ll explore the channels and tactics available to marketers taking a SaaS or other developer product to a software developer market.

Start with Your Current Customers

If you are launching a new product or a major overhaul of an existing one, look to your current customers. If your product sales cycle includes direct sales, ensure your sales team is prepped to discuss new products with your customers. Helpful assets here include conversation guides, one-sheeters, and training on product narratives.

If your product doesn’t include direct sales interactions, a series of digital touch points may be enough to gain traction among your customers.

Tactics:

  • Make sure you update your software developer kit (SDK) and other documentation on your company website or product success site.
  • Include a new product announcement in your newsletter.
  • Send a dedicated product announcement to the segment of your customer base that is most likely to use it.
  • Re-send multiple versions of the announcement to customers who don’t open the announcement email the first time around. We all get busy.
  • If the new product impacts the use of the old product, consider planning a training webinar to ease the transition into the new product.
  • If your product is platform-based, consider a user-directed tutorial to guide customers through the new interface when they first log-in.
  • Don’t forget to announce the product internally. This is a great opportunity to ensure everyone in the company is comfortable talking about the new product.

Find the Right Developer Media Partnerships

Endorsement from respected developer publications or influencers can quickly heighten the profile of your solution. Many publications cater to niche developer audiences, so spend some time identifying the right media for partnership.

Tactics:

  • Seek opportunities for co-branded content that will appeal to your market. For example, here’s a Refcard on continuous delivery we recently created with BMC to highlight their thought leadership.
  • Annual trends reports are a guaranteed hit with many audiences and offer a perfect platform for discussing the challenge that your product solves. Partnering with well-known publications or complementary businesses can be a great way to produce one of these reports while keeping costs down. BMC, Mesosphere, and OutSystems recently partnered with DZone.com to create a guide on DevOps developments for 2019.
  • As an alternative, consider submitting content as a guest blogger. Most publications don’t allow backlinks to your site, but they will usually honor a request to link your website in your author bio.
  • Endorsement by the right B2B influencers not only opens new market access, but also gives your brand credibility a big boost. And, if you have time to devote to personal outreach, it can be done to a high standard with almost no budget.

Dip Your Toe into Developer-to-Developer Communities

Product endorsement from peer-based communities is like apples of gold amongst trees of silver. Winning endorsement from communities like Reddit Programming, Hackernews, or Slashdot can catapult product awareness among developers. But, it’s not always easy.

Here are a few ideas for success in this space.

But, before you begin, Google: “{your desired forum} community rules.” You’ll thank me later.

Tactics:

  • Use a conversational framework when posting in dev forums. Talk with your audience, not to them. Provide technical expertise, answer their questions, make a joke every now and then. Do not spew value propositions or overtly try to corral developers to your website and down your funnel. They’ll massacre you.
  • When you’re promoting a product on a forum or asking for feedback, make sure you have something for developers to play with. Link to an interactive demo, open sandbox, or free trial.
  • Use a tool like Mention, Buzzsumo or Hootsuite to monitor mentions of your brand. When someone asks a question, have someone ready to swoop in and answer it.
  • Share pre-recorded product demos or micro-videos of specific, awesome features. As marketers, we tend to think of demos as bottom-of-funnel content that should always be gated. But, for developers, interest in a product demo can come much earlier in the buying cycle.
  • Consider launching your product on a product aggregator site, like Product Hunt. This is a low-effort, high-return way to get more eyes on your product.

Explore Developer Events

Face-to-face events are excellent opportunities to introduce developers to your products in an authentic, casual way. Remember, trade shows aren’t the only place for real-life engagement. Consider sponsoring a hackathon, networking evening, round table, or a local speaker event. (Tip: Google: “Developer events {your city}.”)

Tactics:

  • Don’t just send your sales team to trade shows — send your developers and SMEs. Developers trust other developers more than they trust your sales team.
  • Attending a trade show doesn’t just mean sponsoring a booth or reserving a speaking position. Recently, Devada sponsored the wifi at Developer Week in Oakland, Calif. Who doesn’t love free Wi-Fi, right?
  • And don’t forget, developers love swag – t-shirts and stickers are always a hit.

Build Your Developer Community

If a developer is interested in your product, they will want to hear what users are saying about it.

A great way to capture the narrative at this stage is by operating your own product community. Developers love to share their product knowledge. But if you don’t own a part of the conversation, you’re missing an opportunity to engage your developer community.

If you don’t already have a community forum, you should consider adding one. Companies like LinkedIn, Microsoft, and Unity all operate high-engagement developer communities. Here’s how Unity built its developer community.

Tactics:

  • Link to your developer community from your SDK. When prospective customers search for your SDK, they’ll also find your community, where they can see the discussion taking place around the product.
  • Answer questions quickly on your community site. It’s important for developers to see that you respond quickly to inquiries – even when they’re really niche.
  • Hire a community manager to curate the discussion and online narrative of your product.
  • Post announcements about new products and product updates in your developer community.

Go Forth and Grow Your Awareness

The key to getting a product to market successfully is knowing who your buyers are and where to intercept them. Customers are always a safe, productive starting point. Test strategies with this group before taking them to a larger audience.

When you’re confident you have the right message, use wider communities, publications, and events to build awareness and amplify your proposition.

 

 

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