In the world of marketing, there's no 'one-size-fits-all' approach, and this becomes particularly evident when dealing with unique segments such as developers. I recently sat down with Natwar Maheshwari, the Director of Developer Programs at Algolia, to discuss the nuances and challenges involved in marketing to developers.
As the Director of Developer Programs at Algolia, a search platform used by over 10,000 companies and millions of developers globally, Natwar Maheshwari is no stranger to the world of developer-centric marketing. With a background in engineering and a successful stint as a senior product marketing manager at MailChimp under his belt, Natwar offers unique insights into how marketing to developers differs from conventional approaches.
Algolia, which hosts 1.5 trillion searches a year, has become a go-to tool for developers looking to build search features. In his role, Natwar is responsible for ensuring developers around the world learn about and leverage Algolia's capabilities, making his insights invaluable for those interested in developer marketing.
The Art of Marketing to Developers
Marketing to developers, according to Natwar, requires a fundamental shift in approach. Unlike traditional marketing, where the outcome is presented first, marketing to developers should start with the "what" and the "how". This means explaining what the product does and how it works early on.
It’s crucial to keep things simple and to the point when marketing to developers. One of the key aspects of this approach is to assume that developers don't know what you do. This is especially true for companies like Algolia that may not be universally known. This means starting at the base, keeping things simple, and making sure the developer understands what you do within a few seconds of interaction.
What is a Developer Program?
When asked to define what a developer program is, Natwar explains that it involves creating something that is free, easy to use, and that allows developers to experience the product without much effort. The goal is to make people aware of the product while simultaneously delivering value to them.
For Algolia, this has manifested in the form of their DocSearch program, which drives significant developer traffic. DocSearch is an easy-to-implement tool that developers can use to improve their documentation search, experiencing Algolia's product in action without any commitment. This win-win approach forms the core of Algolia's developer programs.
Developer Marketing has to be Simple
One of the biggest challenges in marketing a developer product is standing out in a market that has increasingly become template-based. The rise of Content Management Systems (CMS) and templatized marketing methods can make it harder to do unique things. But in the world of developer marketing, uniqueness and innovation are crucial.
The biggest surprise for Natwar in marketing to developers was the importance of keeping it simple. It's easy to assume that because developers are technically savvy, they'll appreciate complicated messages. However, the reality is that simplicity is key. The product or service needs to be easily understandable to the majority of first-time visitors. Regularly asking users for their first impressions can be a helpful tool to ensure simplicity and clarity.
A Controversial View on Developer Marketing
Natwar shares a perspective on developer marketing that might be seen as controversial: developers don't necessarily hate marketing. What they dislike is traditional, in-your-face marketing that doesn't add value. Developer marketing, when done correctly, can provide value, educate, and engage. The trick is to focus on how the product or service can benefit the developer rather than merely trying to sell it.
Natwar's insights into developer marketing underscore the importance of understanding your audience, keeping things simple, and focusing on delivering value. His experiences and perspectives provide valuable lessons for anyone involved in marketing, especially in the tech and developer-focused sectors.