Four Common Developer Marketing Pitfalls

There are some marketing activities devs just don't respond to.

For the past two decades, DZone has helped marketers in the technology sector reach the developer market. In that time, we’ve identified some marketing activities that developers just don’t accept. These tactics can even harm your company’s reputation, as developers are influential within their organizations and often have personal networks with other software professionals.

Keep these activities out of your developer marketing plan, and you’ll already be ahead of the curve in selling your products to this segment.

1. Marketing a Product Instead of a Solution

Developers are trained to solve problems; in fact, a major job requirement for software development is the ability to spot issues and figure out how to fix them.

Positioning a product as an effective solution to a real problem, and accompanying your sales pitch with strategies and tactics for deploying that solution (with examples, when possible) is much more likely to capture a developer’s attention than simply extolling the general virtues of your product, or offering a laundry list of features.

Plus, marketing your product as a proven tactical solution can help your company stand out from the crowd. Your product likely has competitors or even free open-source alternatives. What specifically makes your approach different or more effective?

Developers are busy; if you can show that your product and approach can save them time and give them better results, you’ll be on the right track.


Developers like data. Use it to your advantage. Any unique insight or evidence you can provide using data will go a long way with winning over a developer. Also, don’t shy away from the nitty-gritty technical details of how your product can be used. Developers are more than capable of understanding highly technical content, and speaking to them at their level will help you earn their trust.

Including code in your marketing materials is also a good idea, but be cautious – developers are hypersensitive to oversimplification. They’ll also notice any mistakes, so make sure that code is bulletproof!

3. Using Traditional Sales Tactics

Selling to developers is the surest way to get them to ignore your message. If a developer is on a quest for specific knowledge, anything that isn’t relevant or helpful quickly becomes noise. This includes generic, uninformative, or overly promotional sales messages.

To avoid getting phased out, try to understand what the developer may be looking for and satisfy their search with useful information. Content marketing tends to be a great medium for achieving this goal; traditional advertising and hard-sell tactics, less so.

Be helpful, not pushy.

4. Using Fluff, Jargon, and/or Clickbait

If you are going to put a marketing message in front of a developer, it must be ironclad! Fluff and jargon won’t fool him or her. Developers are trained to evaluate, so superlative statements and unsubstantiated claims will not persuade a developer to buy your product (or even be interested).

Tell them what to expect, then deliver it. If you plan on reaching developers through content marketing, such as blog posts or ebooks, beware of “clickbait” titles (“You Won’t Believe What Software Engineers Are Saying About X,” for instance). Developers see right through tactics like that and are unlikely to respond favorably.

Cloudbees Analyst Research

An example of a great solution-based marketing campaign. Cloudbees offered specific research to its customers and clearly communicated the benefits of utilizing their findings.


Don’t try to pull the wool over a developer’s eyes. This is a market that appreciates honesty, transparency, and usefulness. Developers enjoy solving problems, so make sure you present your product as a solution to a specific issue or challenge.

For more examples of developer marketing campaigns, download our Marketing to Developers ebook.