This article looks at how carving genuine connections and seeking to be the most helpful guy in the room could be the secret marketing strategy you’ve been craving as someone whose audience is full of developers. If there’s one thing we know, it’s that devs don’t respect those who are just playing ‘at’ the game – they want to hear from people that live and breathe their passion.
Why do Content Marketing Versus Other Channels to Reach Developers?
Your first question when looking at content marketing to promote your product or service to the developer community is probably something like:
‘Is content marketing even a good idea if we’re marketing to developers? Won’t they sniff out BS?’
Hell yes, they will.
So, if you’re going to write a bunch of ‘advertorials’ that are pretending to be helpful content but actually just want to sell stuff, the answer is a resounding ‘No, content is not a good idea’.
You might as well go spend your money on ads instead – at least ads are honest!
If you’re looking to engage the best of the developer community and carve out your voice by being a genuinely helpful individual in a niche – more concerned with giving than receiving – then you’re on to a winner.
Content does something better than all other channels – it forces you to get under the skin of your audience. You have to empathize with their passions, bug-bears, challenges, and wildest desires for transformation. It’s the foundational rock on which all other marketing can be built – and that goes double for the dev community, as we explain below.
What Makes the Dev Community Perfect for Content?
Here’s a list of reasons why the developer community is the perfect candidate for content marketing:
- It’s actually a community! – the web is full of D2D communities where people get their freak on. They help each other, debate the pros and cons of the latest tech, and take great pride in solving problems. Embedding yourself in these communities, if you’ve got a genuine interest in the subject matter, is an awesome idea even if it’s just to keep up to date on what your audience cares about.
- They keep you on your toes – as we said earlier, devs are pretty skilled at maintaining a No-Fly Zone for BS. That means you can’t just fling about a bunch of 500-word blogs because your SEO guy told you to – you need to research the genuine problems you can help with and deliver the answers in a format that your community will respect.
- They are challenging solving machines – No good developer sits at their desk whining about their problems. They build solutions to problems. That makes them tutorial-hungry, hack-covetous, documentation-craving content consumption machines. Build what they want and you can be damned sure they’ll come to get it and share it with their dev amigos.
- They’re all about collaborating and contributing – in any niche, some of the best content comes from working with your audience to create it. If you tell your audience you’re working on a cool content project, you can bet there’ll be plenty of individuals more than happy to chip in.
How Effective is Content Marketing in General?
Per dollar/pound/ruble spent, content marketing generates roughly 3 times more leads than traditional marketing methods, AND it costs 62% less than traditional marketing.
You might think that because you’ve got to write it, design it and build it, content can be pretty expensive compared to switching on an ad that pushes through to your site.
But just like Darth Sidious, content plays the long game like no other.
The day you switch off the budget for an ad, the leads stop coming. Instead, build a great tool for your content audience and get a bunch of communities to point links to it, and that bad boy will bring you leads for months or even years to come – all at no extra cost.
It also generates a compound effect. If you’ve got a bunch of awesome tools and tutorials that all have a decent amount of links to them from other sites, that’s going to push up Google’s perceived value of your site – and therefore anything you publish in the future. This means it gets easier and easier to reach your audience with every small success you achieve.
What Should a Content Marketing Plan Aimed at Developers Include?
To create a great content plan for this audience, you’re going to do two things:
- Follow the usual steps to create a great marketing plan – at the end of the day, it’s about a good process to reach good success.
- Flavor it all the way through, according to what you know about your audience.
Here’s a list of the general minimum requirements for any content marketing plan:
- Why you’re bothering to make content at all (your ‘content purpose’)
- What you want to achieve
- A really detailed description of your target audience – interests, needs, challenges, the context of their job roles, etc.
- The major topics on which your content will focus
- Any questions your audience are asking
- What you’ll create and when
- How your content funnels through to your products and services
- Your promotion plan for your content
- What success looks like for your content efforts.
The key here really is the process. There’s a step-by-step guide here you can use which walks you through every element of creating a content marketing plan in great detail. Or, for more general ideas on how to do content marketing effectively, check out this previous post.
Here’s how you flavor your content marketing plan to excite a developer audience:
- Make sure your audience persona is really, really well-informed – speak to developers. Listen to what they talk about, how they talk, and what gets them excited. Check out Dave Gray’s Empathy map template to help you out.
- Geek out on your content format – you can do so much better than a blog article. Build an interactive tool. Shoot some awesome tutorial videos. Host a 24 hour Hackathon in your niche. Basically, enjoy getting creative with it. Here are some starters-for-ten.
- Hail the community spaces – There are some Triple-A Grade communities out there that fit your audience profile perfectly. So, respect the hell out of them. Go in for the long game – build up a rep as being a genuinely nice person looking to give. Then give, give, and give some more. Focus on collaboration and coming up with great ideas together. Only promote ANYTHING when the fit is literally so perfect it’s like the cool tingly feeling Luke gets when he picks up a lightsaber for the first time.
- Be honest when you’ve got your sales hat on – If you do need to promote a product or a service, be super transparent about it. Let them know why you’re pushing it now, what you’re trying to achieve and why you think it’s the perfect fit for them. Keep in mind that they’re truffle pigs for snuffling out that BS.
Just Remember – Be a Gunter, not a Sixer.
Ready Player One is the perfect parallel to draw from if you’re marketing to this community.
You can be one of the genuine heroes who are out on their quest because they freaking love the game.
Or, you can be one of the corporate suits who literally want to shove ads in your face – whether they admit it or not.
Whichever you need to be, own it. Just don’t be one masquerading as the other ????.
Stuart Harrison is the owner of Burning Need, a brand strategy and content marketing consultant for B2B tech companies. He regularly advises networking, IT, and cloud giants on how to better connect with their smart, technically-minded audiences.