IBM Developer NA West team had a great 2019, the team accomplished a lot. A big thank you to the team 💙. I want to share some of the highlights of what the team did in 2019. You can also check out the cool infographic below.
Measuring success in Developer Relations is always one of the most interesting questions or challenges. Every organization does it differently – from measuring how many stickers were handed out, how many Twitter followers one has, to how many people attended a conference talk, to how many API calls were made. There are many more things you can measure. Every approach has its pros and cons and every organization will use an approach that helps reach their business goal(s).
I listened to a great Under the hood of Developer Marketing podcast with Jesse Davis:
where Jesse shared that a metric we should care about is how to help the developer next.
Last September I was in a meeting with Burr Sutter. Burr runs Global Developer Advocacy at Red Hat. We were talking about Developer Advocacy and I remember Burr saying something along these lines:
Our job is to make developers awesome
I right away thought about this image:
I think it’s easy to focus on features but that’s not what Developer Advocacy is about (at least in most cases).
Developer Advocacy is about showing what developers can do with your product/service, what problems developers can solve and what solutions developers can build. I covered this topic earlier in this blog post: Share outcomes and results, not features.
Our job is to help, show and educate what rad things developers can build.
Developer Advocacy is how to make developers awesome 🙌
When I shared this blog post with Burr, he told me he uses another phrase:
Our job is to give developers super powers
So here you go, two really great phrases to describe Developer Advocacy from Burr Sutter:
Our job is to make developers awesome
Our job is to give developers super powers
Scaling your Developer Relations program is a challenge faced by virtually all organizations. It doesn’t matter if you are a startup with 10 people or IBM – you still need to scale your efforts.
IBM probably has one of the biggest Developer Relations organizations in the world. Even with such size, Developer Advocates cannot be everywhere to host in-person workshops, meetups and attend conferences. You cannot scale with people.
Even if you could send a Developer Advocate to every meetup or conference, there are many more developers who don’t attend meetups or conferences. There are many reasons, maybe they leave in an area where there are no meetups or they don’t have conference travel budget. You need to reach these developers and also scale.
The way to scale a program is through content, online meetups (webinars), videos and online forums. I shared how to scale with online meetups and content before:
- Using online meetups to scale your Developer Relations program
- How content creates content (or you can read the entire content series)
All these resources are available to anyone with an internet connection regardless of location and can be consumed any time of the day or night. In addition, all these digital resources can provide value for a long time, months or even years.
A few weeks ago I attended Evans Data Developer Marketing Summit. During a panel one person said:
“Developers hate marketing”
I don’t agree with that.
I think developers don’t like bad marketing.
People in general don’t like bad marketing so I don’t think developers are any special here.
When someone says “developers hate marketing”, I always associate this with an old car salesperson:
No one would disagree that this is bad marketing (or sales), most of us probably experienced that. These folks usually use shady tactics and push features, not solutions.
Most will agree that (most) organizations today don’t do this.
On marketing to developers:
It’s not true that developers don’t want to be marketed to, they are simply very very educated “consumers”.
Here is an example of buying an espresso machine (such as Nespresso)
People will spend a disproportional amount of time learning about the machine and how it works. When they go to the store to buy it, if the sales person knows less than the buyer the buyer will be frustrated. We don’t like when we go to buy something and we know more about the product than the person selling it to us.
There are many great books on marketing out there. A great book I recently read is This is Marketing by Seth Godin. Here is how the book defines marketing:
Marketing is the generous act of helping someone solve a problem. Their problem.
and this one:
Marketers offer solutions, opportunities for humans to solve their problems and move forward.
There is nothing inherently bad about marketing to developers. Companies simply need to be helping solve developer’s problems. If we do this, then we won’t need to say that developers hate marketing (hopefully).
I think here is one good example of that (there are thousands more of course):
Webflow is a No Code platform to build websites. Above is their home page. Webflow is not telling people that they have a visual HTML editor – that’s a feature. They are telling people what problems they can solve, what is the outcome – build a better website, faster, without coding.
Whether you call it developer marketing or something else – let’s help developers solve their problems, show them solutions, outcomes and share knowledge 🙌
On September 24-25 I attended the Future Developer Summit in Menlo Park, CA. It’s an event where about 60+ leaders discuss the future of developer marketing and developer relations. Here are pictures from the event. I created collages so you will see more than 10 pictures 😉
This week I attended Data Evans Developer Marketing Summit. I was there for just half a day but still attended very interesting sessions and snapped some pictures that I want to share. I will share notes from the summit probably next week.
Content (articles, tutorials, videos) is one of the best ways to scale your Developer Relations program. Once content is published it can be consumed by developers any time, anywhere in the world. You are no longer limited to just the local developers coming to a hands-on workshop (of course hands-on workshops have other benefits, but that’s for another blog post). Here are some of the recent blog posts I published that cover content creating and publishing.
The model says that to influence someone to do something, you have just two levers:
- Motivation – how much someone wants to do something
- Ability – how easy it is to do the thing
The third component
- Prompts – is a call to action, trigger or cue for a behavior to happen
So, could this model be applied to developers? Let’s look at each component and see how it can be applied to Developer Relations.
So what can motivate developers? Here is a list of motivations:
- Solving a (challenging) problem (at work or a personal project)
- Giving back to community. For example, contributing to an open source project
- Career growth, personal growth, learning
Ability is how easy it is to do something. I think ability has a strong connection to Developer Relations. We (Developer Advocates) always strive to make things easier for developers. A big part of this is making our documentation, tutorials, videos, guides and everything else easy to follow and complete.
In June at DevRelCon in San Francisco, Steve Pousty gave an excellent talk called The Kick Ass Curve for developer relations. I recommend you watch the talk, one of the themes from Steve’s talk was that we need to make things easier for developers so they can become successful, and fast.
A prompt is a call to action, trigger or cue for a behavior to happen. In the context of Developer Relations, a call to action can be a hands-on workshop that a developer can attend, or an online event. It could also be a friend recommending the technology. It can also be an interesting and easy to follow step by step tutorial that you saw in an email newsletter, an interesting blog post, article or an interesting tweet. All these prompts can lead to: “hey, I want to try this”.
Looking at the Fogg Behavior Model, we want to stay above the green Action line. Staying above the line means a developer is motivated, and it is easy for her to complete something and the prompted has worked. I believe most developers are very motivated. Where we can make a bigger difference is in the Ability. To make developers successful, we need to strive to make things easier such as produce high quality documentation.
There are probably other ways to apply this to Developer Relations (or I might be complete off, hey, who knows). Would love to know what you think, please leave any feedback in comments.
If you want to learn more about the Fogg Behavior Model, you can pre-order BJ’s forthcoming book, Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything. For the first time ever, BJ explains the Behavior Model in depth for a global audience. tinyhabits.com/book.
I recently subscribed to #saashackers daily newsletter. Every morning you get a short SaaS growth case study in your inbox. It’s a quick 3-4 minute read that I recommend you try.
Today’s email talked about Mailchimp and how they got to $400 million in revenue from just 550 employees.
What caught my eye was this image and the text that followed:
text after the picture:
They are selling an outcome, not features.
They are selling the thing people actually want, not their software.
Whether you are a direct to consumer brand with 50,000 customers or a mommy blogger with 1,000 subscribers, you want:
- To build relationships with your customers
- To increase sign up (by 250%)
You don’t (necessarily) want:
- Email templates
- CMS integrations
And this has a very close connection to Developer Relations (or Developer Marketing).
We should be sharing outcomes and results, not features. We should be showing people how to solve problems, not our software.
I’m sure most of you know this but I think it’s worth mentioning. I personally tend to forget about this (sometimes) and also it’s much easier to talk about features than benefits.
Most of you probably also said: “wait.. this is not new at all” 🤦♀️🤦♂️
You are absolutely correct 🤩
Adam DuVander has created and shared this wonderful page: Share Knowledge, Not Features: The Secret of Marketing to Developers is to Not Use Marketing. It’s Developer Relations classic and my favorite Developer Relations resource. I highly recommend you read and bookmark this page. Adam explains that we should be sharing knowledge, not features.
So, let’s try to share outcomes, results, problem solving and knowledge, not features✌️