By: Harshit
April 21 2019

Marketing to Developers : B2D

The B2D model is a special and rare breed. Hardly people get into it with business intentions, they happen to run into it. They often begin as very small development projects, sometimes open-source, with a kernel of developers building a product to service their own needs, which gains some momentum and begins to grow. 

In this sense, B2D companies are similar to pure consumer companies. The product’s initial traction derives from word-of-mouth marketing, whether through forums, news sites, conferences GitHub or Apache project pages.

We are talking sheer value. This model has been the most challenging territory for some business. Take GitHub, Gitlab, Visual Studio Code, Twilio, or Stripe for example. Whatever has to appeal to developers, has to be super substantial, no pushy sales drive them towards you, nor do fancy banners on social media. 

Common Pitfalls of marketing to developers

People often market a product and not a solution

This ideology has to be removed across everything. Since your product solves a problem, why shouldn’t you feel more pompous about solving a problem than developing a product. Often B2D business models hire marketing teams who fail to communicate the degree of problems it will solve in the future, the amount of time it is saving the development guys, or the amount of pressure it is taking of their shoulders.

Skip the small talk marketing materials

The developer community doesn’t have time for your one-minute marketing slogans. To them it just doesn’t chime, and they won’t give a dime. You need to bring up representable data, something which provides proof or just more substance for that matter, boil it down to a one-pager and throw at them. See if it gains traction, channel your other marketing campaigns accordingly. 

The next most important thing you can do is communicate to them in a language they are familiar with. Engage more with your in-house developers, get to understand what’s humour in technical scenarios, gel up some sensitive topics in your marketing materials. It will just get you one step closer to bringing them in your hemisphere, way better than no acknowledgement right ? 

Your language must be Ironclad!


marketing material example

Jargon is necessary but shouldn’t be your first choice when it comes to using words in a marketing material. Rather than just using words, prove how your product helps with substantial information, not just jargon.

Instead of using common marketing language around your CTAs, make things more substantial and offbeat. This will not only communicate to them in a much more effective way but also appeal to them in terms of language. This is a hard tried practise as general marketing language pisses people off a lot of times and you don’t stand a chance at all. 
Provide some information on how your product is helping out other peer developers or some other group or organisation. 

Do give a downloadable reading material which adds to their knowledge or atleast touts about your product with substantial reviews or statistics. 

What forms of content should you throw out:

Developmental Guides

Try providing them with information on how to move or integrate things between their existing stack and your new proposed stack. Provide them with material which helps them integrate the product into their favourite platforms or make some twerks for personalisation purposes. 

Some Best Practice Tips

Developers when start out, they just want to be the best at what they do and forget to brush up on things which matter in the background. For example, they might not be so aware best practises when coding in React or best practises when pushing the code on GitHub. Such helpful materials are supposed to make them better in some or the other way and they will be much appreciated or forwarded. 

Don’t try to go too offbeat from what your product does, just make the best practises at least related to what your product does. 
Sample or Snippets of Code

You should be able to demonstrate the product or at least give them a glimpse into its use case or how useful it can be for them. In-depth walkthroughs, projects and any hands-on examples that give them a demonstrable idea of what you’ve got to offer — and how your platform or service actually works. 

A good word from other developers 

Work towards arranging testimonials comprising a good word from other developers who got a chance to try the product out. This is sort of an indirect word of mouth which is necessary in many cases. Since no one has time to experiment these days, until and unless they get return out of it. 

Third-party examples and community contributions that drill down into real detail on how other developers have benefited from your product.

Tools and scripts that help them be more efficient, or simplify time-consuming and repetitive tasks. 

Sell-in support material 

In case it’s a product which is supposed to be billed by the developer’s employing organisation for work purposes, they should be able to sell the product to their decision makers. It is sort of a trigger, one adopts, everyone adopts. You just need to get make it worth the invoices they receive and the work they do on it. 

The art of building a community 

If you have interacted with developers, you must have realised that they are more community driven, they like engaging with people in some field. They also believe in sharing helpful content and appreciate being shared material which helps them better at what they do. 

In order to drive your product to market, you need to build a community. Since you are B2D, it is extremely necessary to have a developer community and let word of mouth flow from one corner to another. 

Start activity on all social mediums, there is no point in not getting started. A followership takes time, having your buyer personas following your activities on social handles takes a lot of engagement effort and time.  

Start addressing the concerns of the gradually  growing following. Get active over your social mediums and engage with people. Engagement is a proven key. It pays off in building a group of scattered people who consider your brand to be good and responsive to requests or at least they feel being heard out by you and that is such an important thing to have. 

Expect no sudden bump, patience is key in any social following. Nothing will happen overnight, you will have to be more organised about growing your user base and also making it more loyal. 

Continue putting forward your value proposition. Post promotional material but something which does not feel like just promotional material. Check out below the types of content you can utilise in your marketing campaigns. 

Reward any form of participation in the earlier stages 

For all your participants in the campaigns or people showing any sort of involvement towards developing or promoting the product, you should be throwing out rewards out. Award them for putting in time or any degree of effort. 

This is much like, just throwing them a meatball and appreciating whatever sort of participation they show towards the product. If they tout the product on any social mediums, pass on a thank you to them or acknowledgement for that matter. To make the best of your APIs, provide them substantial amount of freedom to work or innovate or bring in new ideas around your product. 

One of the most other significant ways of improving participation in your beta campaigns is through events and hackathons, just launch an event, invite as much of the crowd as possible. Put forward a really interesting theme and award for performing well in the hackathon. 

Let’s get to the business side of things 

The math which defines your business - LTV > CAC

The goal should be to have your LTV always better than your CAC, this will have a lot of impact on your business operations. Financial stability and minimal headaches to keep the product afloat. 

The reason it’s so critical to know CAC is that if you know your CAC and you know the overall amount a customer typically buys (called average lifetime value, or LTV), you can see the state of your business with a single equation. 

The remainder

Going to market just isn’t the solution a lot of times. You need to assess your audience, get into their life styles and problem statements for that matter. Promotions should always be thought through and made more personal to reap the true benefits out of the developer community.