Meghan Hughes, technical marketing leader, shares her top tips and strategies for strengthening a developer marketing function at various sized organizations. This article is based on a session from when Meghan was Global Lead of Developer Marketing at Stripe.

Today, we're going to talk about how to build a team. I don’t know why, but over the last 5 to 7 years I’ve built three marketing orgs. As we were talking about what might be relevant for this summit, we thought maybe we should just go back and look at how I approached that. And when I went and approached those things, I had my network and team to go back to and ask, “What should I do here?”

So I came up with a little acronym for all of us to share, looking back on how I approached it and what stayed true throughout.

We'll run through the go-to tools for each stage of your team's growth. So whether you're jumping in and starting from scratch with no dev marketing, or you have a team and you need to scale it up, we’ll go through how to apply those to your planning process.

Then I'll run through some examples from the seed-stage company, the mid-sized company, which is Niantic, and then the giant experience, which is with Stripe. And then just some extra learnings for fun that we probably grapple with along the way.

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Building a dev marketing org in the wild

Who knows ‘Bear Grylls Running Wild’? For those who don't, he goes out into the wild and survives on his own. He has this new show called ‘The Challenge,’ where he does a two-day challenge with actors and teaches them how to survive in the wild.

One of the things he teaches folks about outdoor survival, and what I thought might have commonality with the way that we have to approach building our team, is this acronym: ‘Please Remember What's First.’

I thought maybe you could walk away knowing how to build your dev marketing org, and you'll also be able to know how to survive should you get lost in the wild.

So, when he talks about ‘Please Remember What's First,’ the interesting thing to me was that the first thing is ‘Protection’. So when you get dropped somewhere that's totally unknown to you, you might think you need rescue or water and food so that you can survive. But, really, it’s about checking your immediate surroundings.

See what's going on, check for the threat of animals, and check if you’re going to fall; otherwise, the next three don't matter. If you’re hurt or there's an animal right next to you, you can't get to the rescue, the water, or the food.

Then you go to the ‘R’ for ‘Rescue’ and you look for ways to get seen. You find a spot where you can maybe put up a signal, and then, and only then, do you figure out where your water is. And after you have that, you go foraging for food.

So, when I was approaching the teams that I was building at these organizations for the first time, you know how that flip for me happened. So here's how we go about this and how it relates to us.

People Research Wins Future Opportunities

For me, ‘Please Remember What's First’ started with people. We're looking at your community and the people in your department, but also the people and developers in your organization. And then the research, the wins, and the future opportunities.

Sometimes, I think we look for the future opportunities and the wins first, and it's really about going back to your developers and having those conversations.

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So, going back to the people, the first thing that I did at each stage of growth was talk to developers one-on-one and meet with those teams.

So, just remind yourself, your teams, and your executives that this is really when you're scaling or coming in from scratch and building an org that didn't exist in the past, which is what I'm doing at Stripe.

Jump in and personally know your community, whether others on the team know them or not internally.

Ask them questions, learn what they need beyond your product, what they look for, and what helps them succeed. And then just repeat that as you scale. Do the same as you grow across regions, launch new products, and build new teammates out as you get more resources.

Second was research. It's going back to the data, but really for this one, I’d like to flag that you should constantly be doing the surveys and research reports internal and external, understanding the sentiment and the barriers, and then comparing those discussions with your one-on-one discussions with your developers.

You've already started with your people, so you should be armed with the tools that you understand about what your developers need. And then the research is backing that up, versus starting with the research and not really having a comparison or a pulse to be able to check that against.

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I would also check with your internal teams and see if this is aligned. Are executives thinking the same way? We just heard one thing from our developers and now they're saying this other thing externally in this larger 1,000-person research report.

And, yet, internally, when I talk to PMs or executives they're thinking a third.

This is a good way to start thinking about where the cracks are and what you might need to double down on or fix.

Then, I would go to the wins and look at what's working. For example, these things for Stripe Docs are really working, and for Niantic what was working was the brand.

Then I would move to: why are these programs hitting the mark? What is it that makes this company work here? Do I just not touch it, keep it, and let it go? Do I double down on that because that's what's working and we want to invest more in that area?

That helps answer those questions based on the conversations you've had with the community and with the data you got from your research reports.

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And then where to focus next? Again, remember that this might also just be the future opportunities, things that don't exist yet. They're not built. We know we need them so we're going to try to build those out from scratch.

So, where are the gaps? What are the areas that you've learned from your devs and the data that you might need to fix? What can wait?

This is the hardest one too, where you’re looking at future opportunities and the sky is the limit. Especially in dev marketing, we can constantly be making content such as webinars and tutorials and doing events.

But, hopefully, with the data that you’ve got, you'll have a good idea of which ones you’d prioritize over others, which ones you’d save for a little bit later, and where you’d need to invest immediately.

So, here's the little acronym for us: ‘People Research Wins Future Opportunities’.