There's one big problem when trying to sell to developers: they don't like being marketed to.

While this might sound like a wild generalization, it holds true for vast swathes of the developer community - they're savvy, switched on, and are often turned off by buzzwords or anything that comes across remotely like a hard-sell.

This is why developer marketing is important! So, how do you market to an industry that doesn't like being marketed to?

In this article, we're going to look at 5 essentials for a killer developer marketing program that actually work.

Your guide to developer marketing
Developer marketing involves techniques and strategies aimed at raising awareness, driving adoption, and boosting the championing of SaaS platforms, tech solutions, etc. Peer validation is incredibly important in developer marketing, as is the relationship between marketers and developers.

The issue for many traditional marketing agencies that are used to selling products or services in other niches is that your toolbox of marketing strategies won't work with developers. In fact, traditional techniques don't just “not work” - they actively turn your audience away.

That's why you need a bespoke solution that breaks through and gets your product into the hands of the people that need it, without pushing them.

Why developer marketing is HARD

You know you've got a killer product that's going to make developers' lives a whole lot easier, but these guys are often skeptical of people trying to tell them what's good for them. They don't like being sold to, so how do you sell to them?

To really break through and get results with such a tough crowd, you need a custom-made marketing plan that's tailored just for them. This relies on a layered marketing approach that makes the most of the sources they trust and channels they rely on.

One of the big problems with developer marketing is that developers typically aren't one, big autonomous group. They're switched on, often skeptical of newcomers to the scene, and, ultimately, don't all think the same.

There isn't one "go-to" place where you'll instantly have a voice and a direct line to the top. There are also many different types of developers, which can make this even more difficult.

The different types of developers
To meet the new tech demands around the world (and to be able to keep innovating), developers tend to specialize and focus in certain areas, which is why you’ll find so many different types of devs.

And a lot of it is community-based, where they tend to only listen to people they already trust. So whether it's Reddit, StackOverFlow or Discord, you need a voice they can believe in.

Developer marketing presents a number of key problems that simply aren't there with traditional marketing. This isn't an easy sell, so you need an approach that takes all these variables into account.

Let's have a look in more detail:

1. Why understanding your audience is vital

To really get to the heart of how to "sell" to developers, you need to understand how they think. Not only are they turned-off by traditional marketing tactics that might have worked so well for you in other industries - they also know what they're talking about. It's a highly educated field, after all - but it's also very sceptical.

Developers tend to want technical solutions rather than fluff. To come up with a marketing strategy that really works, you need to spend time with the developer community. Building some sort of credibility in their community is often key here, and making connections with voices they trust can go a long way.

To really start making bank with a killer developer marketing strategy, you need to start thinking like they do - or at least understanding exactly how they think.

Challenges in marketing and perception to developers
Asaf Shevach, Product Marketing Lead at Wix, explains the challenges in marketing and perception to developers, and how he overcame them, sharing key lessons learned.

2. The importance of a tailored strategy

Not only do you need to fine-tune a way of communicating with them that they'll both listen to and believe, you also need to present clear solutions to problems they're actually facing.

Again, you need connections here. Start communicating with developers and hopefully bring a few on board to help. Community is key when it comes to developer marketing strategies - simple Facebook or Google Ads often don't cut it in an industry that relies heavily on other channels.

Don't just approach developers with an assumption that you know what they're looking for without the evidence to back it up.

And always be flexible enough to change both your product and the way you market it once you've learned more from the developer community about exactly what they're looking for and exactly what works for them.

3. With developer marketing - short-form content is king

You've probably already seen the growth in popularity of short-form content across the marketing landscape as a whole - but it's especially important when trying to reach the developer community.

These guys often don't have the time or inclination to read long-form sales pitches or watch a lengthy video. In fact, they often don't want to look at anything that seems like a sales pitch at all.

They want quick, easy-to-digest content that gets to the bottom of their issue with as little fluff as possible. Without ever coming across like a hard sell.

What product marketers need to know about engaging developer audiences
In this article, I’ll share what I’ve learned so far, why I believe it shouldn’t be about developer marketing but the developer experience, and how to approach each stage of your go-to-market strategy as it relates to crafting it to fit developer audiences.

4. How to take peer validation into account

We've touched on this a little already, but the developer community is big on internal recommendations and they really only believe something is the right solution if people they actually trust and have listened to before actually say it is.

While most developers will want to try it for themselves as well, having a couple of authoritative voices on-side can go a long way.

But it's also important to remember that this community doesn't agree on everything. Everyone here can think for themselves...

But if you can get a bit of traction when it comes to community advocacy and credible peers being impressed, it'll make an impact with your marketing efforts that many traditional marketers fail to achieve.

5. Why you should work to solve the problems developers face

Always know exactly what your audience needs, and how to deliver them both the experience and solutions they're looking for. Don't just assume you've got the answers without extensive research and data to back it up.

Test, test and test again. Offer free access to beta versions and get relevant feedback to tweak and perfect your offer before you go live to a wider audience.

Developer marketing isn't easy - hopefully that's already clear. But coming up with both the perfect product and the perfect strategy to market it will go a long way towards conquering many of the issues other marketers have struggles with.

It's all upside if you do it the right way.

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