When it comes to building a developer marketing function from scratch, the journey involves a blend of strategy, creativity, and a deep understanding of your audience. 

I'm Megan Spier, Director of Developer Network at Twilio. Having transitioned from hands-on technical roles to strategic marketing initiatives, I've accumulated a wealth of insights on engaging with developers effectively and authentically. 

In this article, I’ll share practical tips and foundational strategies for establishing a developer marketing function that resonates with and effectively serves the developer community, ensuring your efforts lead to measurable success.

My journey at Twilio: Expanding horizons

My adventure at Twilio began in 2015, primarily focusing on supporting our developer community on StackOverflow. My role gradually expanded to encompass a variety of tasks including writing and editing technical content for our blog, optimizing content distribution across developer social channels, and orchestrating developer events and conferences. Additionally, I spearheaded the creation of our Champions Program.

You could say I was building on the back of giants. However, in 2021, as I searched for new challenges, fortune smiled upon me. Twilio had just acquired a customer data platform called Segment. The marketing leader of this new division was keen to infuse some of Twilio's magic into her team. She was incredibly supportive yet made it clear that I was starting from scratch. 

They hadn't formally engaged in Developer Relations despite maintaining a stellar engineering blog and actively supporting open-source initiatives.

I was thrilled to dive into a new product and embrace the learning curve. While my colleagues from the Twilio Developer Network were never far away, I've also had the privilege to collaborate with and learn from some truly remarkable new friends in marketing throughout this journey.

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Laying the foundations of a new initiative

As I embarked on starting something new, I first took a moment to step back and dream about what ideal outcomes and success would look like. It’s crucial to identify what you want to achieve—be it increasing community engagement, driving developer adoption, or enhancing brand awareness—and then set measurable goals to keep your team focused and accountable.

A successful developer marketing function starts with clear goals and big dreams. Knowing your target audience is the first step. It’s important to avoid committing random acts of marketing; this is especially true with developers, who are not a monolith. They use various languages, frameworks, and processes to achieve their goals.

To truly understand developers, engage actively in forums, attend meetups, and listen to their conversations on social media. This knowledge allows you to tailor your marketing efforts effectively, ensuring that you deliver the right message at the right time. It’s also beneficial to collaborate closely with your internal teams. 

By sharing insights, you can help your product marketing teams refine their messaging or aid your sales teams in focusing on particularly valuable use cases. This approach not only fosters internal alignment but also enhances your marketing strategies based on real, actionable insights.

Adapting to a new audience: The shift to data professionals

During my years at Twilio, I gained a deep understanding of full-stack web developers. However, my transition to Segment introduced me to a new audience: data engineers, data analysts, and data scientists. Fortunately, my background in Python, which is popular among these professionals, served as a solid foundation.

Taking time to reflect on my new audience was crucial. I needed to familiarize myself with their unique challenges and the tools they regularly use. This understanding is vital for effectively communicating how Twilio Segment can enhance their work and assist them in achieving their goals of developing scalable and reliable data infrastructure.

This shift underscored the importance of continually adapting and learning as a developer marketer. By aligning our solutions with the specific needs of data professionals, we can more effectively demonstrate the value of our products in supporting their intricate and critical work.