How to Market to Developers: A Guide

Ethan Steininger
3 min readMay 22, 2024

Marketing to developers requires a distinct approach compared to traditional marketing. Developers are often skeptical of typical advertising tactics and value authenticity, practical information, and community engagement. Here’s a guide on how to effectively market to developers, drawing insights from a Hacker News discussion on the topic:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=32191615

1. Show Real-World Code

Franze shared his experience organizing a developer meetup, emphasizing the importance of showing real-world code. Sponsors had to include code in their talks, which resonated well with the audience:

“The secret to advertise to developers? Show some real-world code!” — Franze

2. Use Targeted Platforms

Austinpena highlighted several effective platforms for reaching developers:

  • Paid Search: Ensure your product appears when developers search for solutions. Provide a clear value proposition and a low-risk way to try your product.
  • Reddit: Engage with subreddits discussing problems your product solves. Keep ads simple, allow comments, and respond to them.
  • Organic Search: Create the best content on topics related to your product and include calls-to-action respectfully.
  • Follow Trends: Monitor keywords on platforms like Hacker News and Reddit to stay relevant.

3. Understand Developers’ Aversion to Ads

Antonymy and Jrockway discussed the general dislike developers have for traditional ads:

“Devs don’t want it to read like an ad (hate advertising)” — Antonymy

“I’m not going to buy your graphical website builder or VPN. I can get both of those in other ways.” — Jrockway

4. Leverage Community and Swag

Community involvement and offering high-quality swag can be effective. Shepherdjerred and Mooreds mentioned the appeal of T-shirts and other promotional items:

“The T-shirts are the best part of working in tech” — Shepherdjerred

“My company sponsored a coding livestream recently…I was astonished at how excited folks were to have a chance to win a T-shirt.” — Mooreds

5. Provide Clear and Accessible Information

Developers appreciate transparency and easy access to information. Jrockway and Khuey emphasized the importance of clear product descriptions and straightforward pricing:

“Make sure it’s 100% clear what your product does (and doesn’t) do.” — Gwbasic

“I do not want to receive a phone call from you and won’t answer it. ‘Contact sales for pricing.’ I don’t have time.” — Jrockway

6. Use Developer Advocacy Carefully

Monksy expressed frustration with overly promotional developer advocacy, suggesting a more genuine approach:

“To see people acting as salespeople and a dev is not something I want.” — Monksy

7. Create Valuable and Honest Content

Developers trust content that is informative and honest about both the pros and cons of a product. Frost1x highlighted the importance of honest communication:

“Give me a fair assessment of something without BS… Developers trust other devs because other devs tend to give you this information and don’t paint everything as rosy perfection.” — Frost1x

8. Participate in Developer Communities

Engage directly with developers in their communities. Guzik shared a practical approach:

“Go to your local Hackerspace (or makerspace). Sit there with your target audience. Don’t be pushy. Solve their problem with your solution, in real-time.” — Guzik

Conclusion

Marketing to developers requires authenticity, clear communication, and community engagement. Show real-world applications of your product, use targeted platforms, provide honest and clear information, and actively participate in developer communities. By understanding and respecting the unique preferences of developers, you can create effective and meaningful marketing strategies.

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