During our fantastic Developer Marketing Summit in March 2022, Ginevra Mambretti, Product Marketing Manager, Developer Platform at Square, led a panel discussion about best practices in terms of messaging, working with developer influencers and all things developer marketing with two industry experts:

  • Jeremy Castile, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Docker
  • Nishanth Kadiyala, Contributor at Developer Marketing Alliance

Let’s get started. 👇

What is canary testing?

Jeremy Castile

Canary testing is super interesting for marketers and PMMs in the developer space. It's when software development teams release a software update to a subset of their users.

In a way, it's similar to A/B testing but for software developers trying to test in production in a real world scenario. They want to find bugs, see if their code has weaknesses or will break in a production environment, without impacting all of their users as they're just impacting a subset of users.

Then, they can essentially fix those bugs before they continue to roll out the software release to the rest of production.

It’s a best practice for DevOps and PMs can learn from this technique and leverage it to our advantage for message testing. Building your messaging and testing it in rural scenarios. Before a big release, you can test your messaging for a new product or launch, get feedback from a subset of users or customers and incorporate that into the messaging before you go to launch.

The science behind feedback gathering from developers
We’ve discussed the importance of marketers getting into that headspace of a developer. That’s our ultimate goal, to bridge the gap between the marketer and the developer.

Nishanth Kadiyala

I love that idea of being able to pick existing mechanisms and best practices and other worlds and bringing it to the product marketing world. On similar lines, I want to introduce the idea of minimum viable marketing.

We have something called minimum viable product on the product side but, in both cases, the concept is that you want to test things out with the least amount of risk and investment.

When I recommend a messaging idea or a go-to-market strategy, my philosophy is that, once we have identified, we need to verify before we start amplifying it. In the verification phase, I go for quick and inexpensive mechanisms to test these ideas (quick website, A/B testing, email subject testing, go to a meetup, etc.).

At some point, you feel like it’s working and then we start amplifying, which could be writing a blog, a white paper, talking to analysts and press and have them start talking about the product.

Do you work with developer influencers?

Jeremy Castile

It's super important to have a network of trusted developer advocates or influencers. One of the most important reasons for that is to have an authentic developer voice.

Leveraging developer influencers with message testing, content creation, thought leadership and just general feedback on go-to-market is going to help you make your go-to-market that much more potent and effective and resonate much better with developers.

We have a program called Docker Captains. This is a group of folks who don't work for Docker but are experts about Docker. Some of them have their own large platforms and they do training.

We did a launch with a number of folks: people at Docker, Docker Captains, internal engineering teams, and influencers in the developer space outside of Docker. When we bring them in ahead of the launch, they champion our new products and our new pricing, and represent a voice of validation beyond just Docker talking about itself.

When we think about developer marketing for PMMs, don't be afraid to go out there and make connections with developers who are knowledgeable in the tools you provide, and see if you can pull them into your go-to-market.

How to go from product marketing manager to developer marketer
Do you know what it takes to transition from a product marketing manager (PMM) role to a developer marketing one?

Ginevra Mambretti

With developers, paid marketing doesn't work very often so it's very important to have advocates who can influence the others with an authentic experience.

Nishanth Kadiyala

Some of us may not have the luxury of having a wide and established community with plenty of advocates to choose from, and we may have to create that community from scratch.

When I say from scratch, it's not like there are no champions at all, it’s just a smaller pool. That's where it becomes critical to be able to bring those SMEs into the pool and get them excited about speaking about your product in various forums.

The way I went about it was by introducing new ideas into the market. I would go to meetups and chat with people about this idea, see how they're receiving it and take the feedback, write a blog about it and then share it back to them.

After that, they started having conversations about it on Twitter, so now we had a few people who understand this concept and I was able to tap into those contacts every time I needed some information in the product or written news.

Essentially, educate people, get them excited and they want to be part of the initiative.

Some people are motivated by technology, some people are motivated by fame, some people are motivated by giving back to the community so you have to understand what a particular person is interested in and position it accordingly and give them relevant opportunities.

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.

Ginevra Mambretti

I can relate to both of your experiences, because Square has a very big developer community in the US, but I look after Europe. We just entered the European market and I feel like most of our influences are from the US and the narrative has a tendency to be very US-centric.