From a product management perspective, I’ve learned a tonne of things. There are a lot of similarities between product management and product and developer marketing.

I’ve had a chance to think through how I was approaching product marketing and what some of the principles were that I could pick from product management and apply to the product marketing world.

Today, I'll focus on what a PMM function is to a product marketing manager, and talk through an agile framework before going into the very specific example of my experience with Progress DataDirect.

Product and developer marketing start with market research

Product marketing is like the Google Translate of the org. And the reason I say that is because we’re essentially connecting different dots in the organization.

It's extremely important for us to understand what the customer is looking for, what they need, where they’re looking for it, and connect it back to the different parts of the organization.

It could be sales, marketing, product, analysis, or leadership. We could go on and on. There are all sorts of stakeholders within the organization, and our job is to enable those stakeholders to have a meaningful conversation with the customer in the context of the problem and the needs (and the developer pain points).

And from the functions of a product marketer, there's a tonne more. I'm sure it would take an hour for us to sit down and figure out what exactly product marketing is, where it begins, and where it ends.

But, at a high level, I feel like it usually begins with market research. It's about understanding where developer are, what the context is, what environment they're playing in, and what the competition is doing.

How are the developers themselves trying to solve the problem? How does your product fit into this world?

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Once you have a sense for the value you're adding to this space, you go on to the go-to-market strategy and the messaging and positioning.

Here, you come up with hypotheses on what the use cases are that you can add value around and what developer personas you should be marketing to. What are the likes and dislikes? What kind of content should you be creating?

And, similarly, demand generation is another major arm of product marketing. We partner super closely with the marketers and the sales engineers in the organization to create content that’ll pull the users back into the product.

But the main focus today is on how we do our research, how we come up with the strategy, how we test it, and how we amplify it in that particular use case.

The agile product marketing framework

When we think of product in the product world, it's always about having a hypothesis, validating that hypothesis, and eventually investing in that direction when you see some leading indicators of success.

In a similar fashion, this is what I was doing even as a product marketer. Back then, I didn’t have a framework as to what I was doing. But, at the very core of it, we're essentially identifying new opportunities.

We’re having conversations internally and externally. You’re validating that in the next phase and saying, “Okay, here are 10 opportunities, but we're going to look at the one that has the biggest potential.”

Something that I borrowed from the product management world is called minimum viable product. And similarly, we have to adopt the style of minimum viable marketing, especially with smaller companies where you have limited budgets.

You can learn more about creating a minimum viable product in our "What is SaaS marketing?" guide.

You have to think, Here are 10 ideas, how do I test them with the least amount of investment? And, then, gradually place higher bets on your winners.

And eventually, once you’ve seen a winner, this is where being a developer hasn’t helped. Developers don't like to spend. I’ve hated spending and always leaned on organic traffic. But this is where you have to compromise and go into the next mode.

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.

Your goal at the beginning of a new idea is to keep your investments as low as possible. And, as you gain confidence in a particular opportunity, you increase your investment. When we say investment, it’s not just about money. It's about your time, your resources, and whatever else goes into the typical marketing funnel.

To be honest, this isn’t a Holy Grail. It’ll totally depend on the organization. Sometimes, speaking to customers might be a lot easier for some companies.

When we’ve seen enough amount of validation, that's when we start improving the product and going into third-party marketplaces. Personally, that has been one of the trickiest things for me, because invariably we get into the legal zone and that takes forever.

The typical traits of developers

This part is where I want to focus on the specific example. This is about a time when I was fairly new to product and developer marketing. I didn’t know a lot of this on day one, but I was building a mental model around what it is that my end user is trying to do.

For context, Progress DataDirect is involved in the business of connecting applications to data sources. So, imagine Tableau or Power BI, and you have data in MongoDB, Oracle, or SQL Server. We built the pipes.

I can't even express the number of times I’ve had to explain to people how we were making money in this business, but yes, this is what we did. We built a ton of connectors.

These are for developers like data engineers, product managers, and data analysts. They’re the people that we were going after. And their traits are probably fairly common. They’re tech-savvy, super pragmatic, and cost-conscious.

Get into the developer mindset
In this article, Liz Moy talks about how to get into the developer mindset, which has helped her throughout her career to better communicate with developers.

In terms of content, they're looking for value. They really care about their time. And if there's a specific problem, they actually prefer a consultant to say to them, “Okay, for this problem, this is the line of code you should be using.” And that's why you’d see them fairly often in places like Stack Overflow and GitHub.

They also don't like to be pitched to or sold to. I've had to learn this the hard way. In the beginning, I’d go to conferences and give them flashy marketing pitches, and it was embarrassing. So, I had to learn the hard way that they don't like being marketed to.