This article is based on a talk from the Developer Marketing Summit March 2022.

My name is JD Prater, I’m Head of Marketing at Osmos. Before my role at Osmos, I was the first Product Marketer at Quora, I went on to be a Product Marketer at Google Fiber and then, at AWS.

In developer marketing, too many times we’re so focused on the product when it should be about the audience first. Now, how do we get there?

In this article, I’ll share four strategies to include in your developer go-to-market playbook, using the STP (Segmentation, Targeting, Positioning) framework:

Let’s go ahead and dive in. 👇

#1 Define and segment the market

There’s no single type of developer. There can be a world of difference between someone who's working at a tech company like Google or Netflix, and someone who works at an early stage startup like myself.

We can use many words to describe what a developer is doing; it could be software, data or SaaS algorithms, for example.

Define the market

define the market osmos

Let's get started by breaking it down in defining what our market is:

  • TAM → Total Available Market
  • SAM → Serviceable Available Market
  • SOM → Serviceable Obtainable Market

For example, below is the first pitch deck from Airbnb. There's roughly $2 billion in trips booked worldwide but we're going to focus on people who are looking for budget and online trips. That's 532 million trips booked with Airbnb and our market share is roughly $10.6 million.

first Airbnb pitch deck

They're focused on this minimum viable audience. If you focus on the minimum, it’s too small, and if you focus on the viable, it’s too broad. The intersection, as determined by Seth Godin, is the smallest possible audience that you can serve and sustain your business.

Once you focus on delighting your minimal viable audience, you'll discover that it's a much larger group than you expected, and they will start telling others about your product.

On the other hand, if you just shoot for the mass (in other words, for the average), you're probably going to create something that isn't gonna get you very far; so, we have to break it down and find this minimal viable audience.

minimum viable audience concept by seth godin

Segment the market into sub-groups

To do that, we're going to segment the market into subgroups. Market segmentation is the process of dividing the market into subgroups. These can be based on characteristics such as age, behaviors or income levels.

This process will help you understand what your key customers want, where they are and how to talk to them effectively.

osmos - segment the market into sub groups

Full-stack, back-end, front-end, desktop, mobile, DevOps, systems admin, database admin, these are all different types of developers. When you’re segmenting, you have to figure out where your product fits, who it’s for, and focus on those markets.

Other ways we can segment is by targeting the age range; we can also look at our competition and who they’re focused on. Here's our company. Here's competitor one, competitor two, competitor three. You're going to find there will be some differences and that's what's going to be key, so you can focus on when we get to that positioning to win.

From here, let's start breaking down our segmentation mix. Maybe you want to focus on CTOs, software developers, infrastructure, ops or security developers.

Then, break it down and understand how they consume media and what their hashtags are to understand more about them. This is similar to personas we're used to creating, but think of this as markets and now subgroups.

Maybe your ideal audience segment is one that is both large and still growing, it’s built to support your business and you're able to reach them with your marketing efforts.

You want to align that segment with your business strategy. From here, once we align it, it's going to require tough choices. There may be a large number of variables that can be used to differentiate consumers on a given product category, yet, in practice, it becomes impossibly cumbersome to work with more than a few at a time, so we have to focus.

osmos audience analysis on IT decision makers

Here are a few audience intelligence tools I've used in the past:

  • Audiense
  • Sparktoro
  • Branswatch
  • Buzzsumo
  • Google Analytics

These tools will help you understand who your audience is and start breaking down the market. That way, you can focus on your core persona and also on your market and subgroup.

#2 Evaluate and select your target <dev_groups/>

Step two is targeting. Which segments are most likely to generate the conversions? We have to figure out if they’re big enough, if they're going to be profitable and if they’re reachable.

You'll need to take that into account in your overall business strategy, so we're going to zero in on the segments you feel will be the most profitable for your business.

Evaluate the attractiveness of each segment

osmos evaluate the attractiveness of each segments

You've got segment one, two, and three, for example. Then you come up with quick strengths and weaknesses or you can even do a full SWOT analysis if you want for each segment.

Knowing what the strengths and weaknesses are is going to be very important because this will also help your sales team think about your objection handling and the questions that might be coming up.

Porter’s five forces

Porter's five forces

Porter's Five Forces is all about the market segmentation evaluation. He's broken it down into five undeniable forces that play a part in shaping every market and industry in the world, with some caveats, but the five forces are frequently used to measure the competition, intensity, attractiveness, and the profitability of an industry or a market.

They are:

  • The threat of new entrants,
  • Bargaining power of buyers,
  • The threat of substitute products,
  • The power of those suppliers, and
  • The rivalry among existing competitors.

When you fill this out, you're able to objectively understand and evaluate each target segment.

For example, in our target segment, we're going to focus on IT decision makers. It's roughly 7600 people. We know their geography, their influencers, the technology brand affiliations they have with it, etc.

Now we can see how well does this align, we'll use those segments to list our strengths and our weaknesses.

Then, we'll do the same thing for segment two and segment three. In the end, we're able to evaluate objectively to conclude, for example, that segment one is going to give us a clear path to win.

Therefore, we’ll focus our positioning and our marketing mix on segment one and not segment two or three. This is the trade off and the tough choices you'll have to make.

#3 Position to <win/>

segmentation, targeting, positioning

Your positioning is going to funnel into the four P's: your price, your product, your distribution and your promotion.

Positioning here is more than a strategic narrative or your messaging, it’s how we are going to position our product or even our company to win.

Positioning Exercise

A common positioning exercise I've used in the past is:

  • What is the product?
  • What market are you going to be competing in?
  • Who is that target segment? → Which we’ve covered in our first strategy.
  • What are the competitive alternatives? → This includes competitors that are free, a lot of times you have to include open source and Excel. Many times, Excel is the competitive alternative because it's the status quo, the way we've always done it.
  • What is your primary differentiation?
  • What are the key benefits of those differentiations?
positioning exercise by osmos

Another way to think about this is April Dunford’s method. She follows a very similar path where she looks at the competitor alternatives, their unique attributes, their value, the customers that care and the market you can win.

Understanding customer needs

Once we’ve defined a subgroup and we've targeted it, we have to understand what our customer needs.

understand customer needs

What is their occupation? What is their interest? When they buy, understand the purchase cycle. Can you offer a freemium? Can they come in and start using it and then it'll eventually grow with them? Is it something that's going to require a buying committee? Maybe they need their CTO's approval.

All this will impact how they buy. These questions affect your customers' needs, because they’re going to expect something of you. Once you disappoint, they may never come back.

It’s incredibly important to understand your customers’ needs if you're going to gain repeat business.

2x2 Product positioning map

Once you’ve gone through the steps to understand your customers’ needs, you have to understand the positioning map. Is your product complex? How is it priced?

product positioning map

Where does your competition fit and how are they approaching the market? Do you see any gaps? This is incredibly important to determine whenever you're thinking through your own product and how to price it.

Competitive positioning matrix

Your company probably has competitors. You need to know who their target customers are because I've seen the same product be positioned for different teams.

competitive positioning matrix

There are different ways to understand who your target customers are and where those overlaps are, what your key benefits are and how you price your product; that’s ultimately your value prop.

Once you do fill in this competitive positioning matrix, you have amazing battle cards to then equip your sales team with. This is a win/win because it’s going to feed into the strategy for your positioning.

Positioning strategies

There isn't just one way to position. You could focus on a category and user acquisition for a specific target group of users; maybe even under what is the best for a certain type of application.

You can then focus on your attributes, which is positioning focused on zeroing in on your unique selling proposition. These are your value props, and you can just focus on that.

positioning strategies

Ultimately, it's thinking through how to get your product to stand out from the rest on the market. Focus on how your positioning can win the largest amount of market share, that's what's going to be key.

Positioning matrix

positioning matrix by osmos

We’ve already determined our target specific segments; we then focus on strengths and weaknesses and, now, for each segment, we know how to position the product by their top customer needs and the value props.

#4 Develop <marketing_mix/>

However we decide to position, it's the marketing mix that's ultimately going to figure out how we position to our segments and how we get to them.

marketing mix

This exact makeup of the four Ps looks a little bit different. It has various changes based on new technologies and ways of thinking how you're pricing it, as well as your unique selling props.

Targeting strategies

targeting strategies

There are many targeting strategies to choose from, whether it be mass /undifferentiated marketing, or micro-marketing. But the vast majority of us are probably going to be somewhere in the middle with differentiated and niche marketing.

You'll develop a quick template like this and fill in these boxes: how do I reach my customers? Where are my platforms? And, ultimately, how am I going to win the customers?

targeting strategies by osmos

Dev customer journey

OpenView put together a developer-focused go-to-market playbook which mostly focuses on the distribution side of the four Ps. This playbook talks about how to discover, start, activate, convert and scale.

dec customer journey

It's no longer this traditional prospect lead opportunity of getting customers in, letting them into the product, letting them figure things out themselves and then they'll convert in scale.

Freemium vs free trial vs demo

One of the biggest things we all struggle with is figuring out when to do a freemium, a free trial or a demo. I have found this 2x2 to be the most helpful when figuring this out.

freemium vs free trial graph

If you have high complexity and price, that's a demo. If you're not as complex, you could probably get away with a free trial as long as customers can complete their POC quickly. Maybe it’s super easy to get started so you’re going to do a freemium version of it instead.

Lastly, when you're thinking about your marketing mix, I wouldn't sleep on influencers and media. It’s underrated for developers but what you'll see here on the X axis is mentioned volume. So, in other words, you can see how often software developers are sharing articles from media publications.

media engagement analysis graph

The Y axis is showing the number of engagements resulting from those media mentions and the size of each bubble is total impressions. The total impressions in this context is the aggregate sum of the followers for every engaged person.

It’s interesting to see where developers are hanging out and where they're sharing things. Don't forget, engaging those influencers and influencer marketing will bring B2D to B2C.

Key takeaways

strategies to include in your GTM playbook

The entire process is: we define the market, we create segments, we evaluate them, we then create those profiles, we evaluate how attractive those are, we select them, we develop our positioning strategy for that target market and, then, based on the positioning strategy, we implement our marketing mix.

Lastly, we measure performance; that's what's ultimately key for all of this.

By the end of it, you'll have your segment market, target market, and positioning, and then your ultimate marketing mix for product, price, promotion, and place.

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