Our premier event was everything we’d hoped it would be: Thirteen people of various backgrounds came together at the Delaville Café in Paris’s 10th for an evening of discussing developer relations and marketing.
The two topics of the evening:
Effective marketing of developer tools, and the best channels to use.
Methods for collecting survey data from developers
Identify the customer pain. The best marketing efforts know where the customer’s pain is, and effectively demonstrates that this pain can be solved.
Find potential customers suffering from this pain, and have a conversation with them.
Emphasize that this tool represents the right way to get things done. Developers take pride in crafstmanship, and like the feeling of knowing they are doing things the right way.
Open Source makes a great gateway, whether its related to your product (like PM2 to Keymetrics) or not (like web application boilerplate). Great OSS is a way to demonstrate to developers that you can provide real value.
Influencer marketing is another avenue to pursue: Find individuals who understand the value of the tool, and who are willing to share their usage of the tool. Make the people you reach out to feel special and cool.
Offer something new to learn. Developers are more likely to examine your content if you are genuinely helping them to expand their skillsets and expertise.
Obviously branded content is bad. This is the converse of the last point. If your primary goal in content marketing is to sell, you will fail. Developers require real value to build goodwill with them. Selling and branding destroy goodwill.
Facebook Groups are a surprisingly good channel for finding developer communities to have a conversation with. Also, you don’t have to have a developed network to take advantage of Facebook, unlike Twitter.
Always be demoing. This is a great way to get feedback, and to identify potential influencers.
Connect your customers to each other. Pair up experienced customers with new or potential customers, so the one can help the other. This increases the feeling of empowerment, and makes the newer customer feel welcomed into a community.
Integrate community support/forums directly into the tool. Let customers find each other. This provides a sense of community, and social proof that the tool is valuable.
Wrap it in code. Create a short-lifespan repo somehow linked to the survey/whatever and present it as a coding challenge.
Standard incentives. Developers are not immune to dinner-for-two or Amazon-gift-card offers.
Face-to-face. MeetUps and IRL social gatherings encourage a higher level of engagement; in that context, asking someone for 5 minutes of their time ain’t no thang (but asking a stranger for 5 minutes is an awful lot).
Don’t underestimate FB groups. Facebook is not usually regarded as a “den of dev” but everyone is on it, so it logically follows that developers are there too. They’re a bit trickier to find is all. There are large FB groups devoted to DevOps, Python, and so on. Respect group rules, but beyond that, it’s a great way to plead to a whole bunch of developers.
Public Slack. Another place we often forget where developers hang out is the ever-growing number of public Slack channels. There is no definitive global directory of these, but Slacklist (a curated list) is a pretty good place to start.
Hacker News. We all know: Quora, Slashdot, StackOverflow etc. but we tend to forget Y-Combinator’s very old-school soapbox/bulletin board known as Hacker News. The signal/noise ratio is not always great, but a shout-out that catches someone’s interest can spread quickly into other channels.
Remember phone calls? Human psychology 101: chatting on the phone for 5 minutes is nothing. Filling in a form on a computer for 5 minutes is eternity. If your survey is long-ish, try outbound calling (many inexpensive services available) and have the outbound caller fill in the form on the interviewee’s behalf. Just switching the user experience to conversation will make it a whole new thing.
Give them their motivation. Like movie stars, developers benefit from being reminded why they should do this or that. Putting the effort in context, reminding them of the value of responding, is helpful.