Getting in with the New In Crowd: Developers
Many PR and marketing teams target the usual suspects. They launch campaigns to get customers, recruit employees and channel partners, and cozy up to investors and local communities.
But if you are in tech, there is an increasingly important audience that may be getting short shrift.
The software developer is becoming the linchpin in more and more business plans. Once a minor influencer and cog in IT procurement, they have emerged as a major force that can hold the keys to your market, further adoption of new tech and products and even make or break companies.
Why is the developer suddenly so important? And how can you court this coveted group?
In this series I will try to answer these questions. This first post will discuss the developer imperative, describe some of the challenges, and set the stage for a discussion of the tactics that can help you achieve success.
The Rise of the Software Developer
Perhaps you want to foster adoption of your software and drive grassroots growth in the enterprise. Maybe you want ISVs to add compatible solutions and functionality; this makes yours more useful and the vaunted network effect can be the key to becoming a standard. Or, it could simply be that your product is geared to programmers, and you want to sell to them.
Of course, let’s not forget a primary motivator: recruitment. Many want to promote their companies and technologies as cool for programmers.
In any of these scenarios you will want to find a way to get through and win them over.
Their rising importance can be tied directly to the growing role of software for consumers and businesses. Our lives and work are increasingly organized by apps. The rise of software-driven architectures has played a role.
Open source is growing, lowering costs and promoting standards. Apps, SaaS and the cloud bring code within reach of everyone. SDKs and APIs make it easier to extend functionality and integrate solutions.
In a world in which every business is becoming a software company, software is increasingly the Lingua Franca, and the developer, a hero (see my post: There’s Gold in them Apps – and App Developers).
So What, Really, is New Here?
Of course, marketing to developers is not new. If you’ve worked in tech, you have no doubt heard about the trend – just check out the following headlines:
- EE Times: Xilinx Targets Embedded Software Developers
- ZDnet: IBM Preps Cloud Services, Targets Software Development
- Ad Week: Facebook Holds first Hack Developer Day
- eWeek: Apple Lures Developers with iWatch Offer
- The Inquirer: Apple is ‘aggressively’ courting business devs
It is a fair bet that the major vendors have big war chests and teams dedicated to winning over this coveted group. But smaller companies and startups might not know where to start.
With the growing importance of this group, you do need a plan if you don’t have one already.
What Does the Developer Want?
If the rationale is clear, the path to winning their hearts, minds and commitment can be anything but.
Developers are not some monolithic group that you can influence with top down marketing. They can be fiercely independent, or belong to tribes. Many value their affiliations and credentials, and wear their certifications like military stripes and skills like battle scars. They can be mired in legacy tech or early adopters.
Having said that, there are some common threads, and ways to communicate that can help you achieve your goals.
Before you begin, ask the following questions:
- What types of developers are important?
- Where do they meet in person and online?
- Where do they get information?
- Are there similar adjacent communities?
- What are their hot buttons? Relevant trends?
- How can you interest /incentivize them?
- Why should they care about your company/technology?
- How can you work with developers to further your goals?
My next post will explore PR campaigns designed to build visibility and reputation with software developers.