Posts by: Jeremy Hurley

Developers scared to charge fair value for their software product

Listened to a great podcast recently from IndieHackers. Courtland Allen interviews founders on their entrepreneurial journeys. He does a great job of drawing out insights and commonalities across mostly bootstrapped, independent developers as they build their businesses from the ground up. The recent episode titled “Before and After Product Market Fit with Peter and Calvin from Segment” hit on a common issue – developers scared to charge a fair value for their software product.

These guys from Segment are on their way to building a massive business – they came up through Y Combinator and just raised $64M in a C round. But it wasn’t always that way, even with the great guidance and coaching they got.

In the early days, as technical people with no real sales background, they struggled to ask for money. Here are some quotes:

Let’s try charging people, but we were also terrified of asking for money. So we just started asking people for like ridiculously small amounts of money in retrospect. We were like, “Okay, we should charge like $10 a month for the service,” which is just like ludicrous in retrospect.

We had one customer that messaged us, I’ll never forget this guy, Eduardo. He was a customer from Brazil. He actually messaged me a few months ago. He’s still a customer. He messaged me and he’s like, “Peter, I’m very concerned about your pricing,” and we’re like, “Oh shit, we’re charging too much,” and he’s like, “It’s far too low for this to be a sustainable business and I really want to use Segment for a long time, you really need to find a way to charge me more.” It took us maybe like a year to really like ask people for reasonable amounts of money for the value that was being offered.

How did they overcome being scared to charge as a developer?

  1. Hire a Sales Advisor

We had this sales advisor, Mitch. Basically we went to one of these sales meetings, and he’s like, “You have to ask for 120k a year.” Keep in mind, the most we had been thinking before this was $120 a year, this is 1,000x more, and I was like, “Dude, I don’t know, that’s crazy. I don’t know if I can do that.”

He’s like, “Peter, if you don’t ask for $120,000 a year, then I quit as your advisor.”

From one customer, yeah. I asked and he negotiated me down to $18,000 a year, which was pretty embarrassing, but was also two orders of magnitude higher than what I expected. There was that and, basically, it was like a six month period of us asking for increasingly larger amounts of money until we stopped turning beet red when we’d ask for it. And then people were like, “Yeah, it is that valuable to me, I’m happy to pay it.”

2. Charge for the value you are providing the customer, not for what it “costs” you to produce or create

We started out thinking of ourselves as primarily a developer tool where you start using Segment and it’s much easier to hook these things up, or you don’t have to worry about integrating new tools for your data any longer.

But when we talk to companies out on the market who are using Segment, they saw it as saving their developers time. Internally they have a team of maybe 10 or 15 people who are maintaining this giant data pipeline and they’re spending a bunch of cycles on that, and those 10 to 15 people end up being really expensive particularly if they’re highly trained software engineers.

If you are a technical founder or team that needs this sort of sales guidance or partner, TechCrowds can help with everything from cold email outreach to set up demos, leading sales calls with you as the SE, and help closing deals.

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Top podcasts for independent developers and bootstrappers

Whether you call them independent developers, bootstrappers, micropreneurs, indie hackers, independent software entrepreneurs, or whatever else, at TechCrowds we like to work with independent developers that are often great at building products but can sometimes need some help on the sales and marketing side. Here’s an updated list of top podcasts for independent developers and bootstrappers that I’ve gotten a lot of value and entertainment out of over the years.

If you are an independent developer with product market fit that needs outsourced sales help, check out Best Practices for Outsourced Software Sales or contact TechCrowds to start a discussion about what you are looking for in a partner.

Top Podcasts for Independent Developers and Bootstrappers

RankName
Podcast Description TechCrowds' Notes# of Episodes as of 12/2017Hosts
1Bootstrapped with KidsBrecht built a 6-figure online software as a service and training business and he aint even got college. Scott's got more ivy league degrees than you can shake a stick at but he walked away from high paying corporate job to work from home and run a highly
successful web development agency. It's not a show about "passive income" its a show about financial independence and freedom and how we're achieving it while still managing the responsibilities of being fathers.
Would rate this as the #1 podcast that could be turned into a "King of Kong, Fistful of Quarters" style documentary. Real, Honest, Hilarious, Raw. Also actionable and with tactics (some timeless, some now perhaps outdated). That's ok though - the Classics never go out of style. Fingers crossed that Brecht and Scott revive this.132Brecht Palombo & Scott Yewell
2Startups for the Rest of UsWelcome to Startups for the Rest of Us, the podcast that helps developers, designers and entrepreneurs be awesome at launching software products. Whether you’ve built your first product or are just thinking about it.The gold standard of independent software developer podcasts. Also put on MicroConf and MicroConf Europe, the best in person bootstrapped software events.368Rob Walling and Mike Taber
3IndieHackersHow Developers are Bootstrapping, Marketing, and Growing Their Online BusinessesRecently bought by Stripe. Great stories of mostly independent "indie hackers" telling their real stories and numbers. 38Courtland Allen
4Bootstrapped WebBootstrapped Web is for entrepreneurs bootstrapping their startups, who believe that the best way to get to where we're going is to learn by doing. Conversations, case studies, and interviews with entrepreneurs who are building profitable businesses online. Let's do this.Follow Jordan and Brian as they build out real businesses and teams - tons of actionable insights, tools, etc. 100Brian Casel, Jordan Gal
5Chasing ProductThe Chasing Product podcast helps consultants and freelancers transition from client work to releasing bootstrapped software products. If you want to get out of client work and in to product work, then you are Chasing Product.Interesting journey of a freelance web dev trying to escape freelancing and build his own product. Won't spoil the ending.40Christopher Hawkins
6Mixergy"Learn from Proven Entrepreneurs." In over 1,000 interviews, Andrew Warner asks uncomfortable questions to dig deep into the success and failures of the most successful business founders and thought leaders. The ideas and stories are so powerful that hearing them will change you.. If you are an ambitious entrepreneur crafting your next upstart or startup, there is no greater "street smarts" education than Mixergy. Interview podcast with lots of good startup stories and drill down into tactics.
1527Andrew Warner
7The Startup ChatUnfiltered insights and actionable advice straight from the trenches of startup and business life. The show hosts, Steli Efti and Hiten Shah, are both serial entrepreneurs who have founded multi-million dollar SaaS startups. 262Steli Efti & Hiten Shah
8Bootstrapped25+ Years of Software Bootstrapping ExperienceThese guys run a pretty good bootstrappers forum as well at: http://discuss.bootstrapped.fm/98Ian Landsman and Andrey Butov
9Rogue StartupsThe Rogue Startups podcast features two bootstrapped startup founders as they grow their businesses. We feature experts in the fields of sales, marketing, and product development to hear how they're growth hacking their productized services, WordPress plugins, and SaaS products. 113Dave Rodenbaugh and Craig Hewitt
10Zero to ScaleLearn from two entrepreneurs, Greg Hickman and Justin McGill, as they bring you behind the scenes each week to learn how they are building their bootstrapped businesses from zero to $20k per month and beyond in recurring revenue. Each week they share their updates including the wins, losses, lessons learned as they grow their businesses. Their businesses include productized services, SaaS products, agency services and even online training programs. If you’re an entrepreneur and want the honest, emotional and transparent view into the growth of two businesses, you’re about to learn a lot.158Greg Hickman & Justin McGill
Table updated as of 12/1/2017 - Ranking by TechCrowds

 

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Native Advertising Platforms for Publishers Overview

Publishers are moving in droves to native advertising models to drive revenue in the face of falling CPMs from traditional display banner buys. Options for publishers to capture programmatic native advertising revenues at scale and still deliver relevant content for readers are available. Here is an overview of some of the key native advertising platforms for publishers (taken from the Native LUMAscape chart) with some brief notes and key stats for each vendor.

Native Advertising Platforms Overview

  • OpenX Native Exchange OpenX received $75.5M in 6 rounds from 15 investors. Founded May 1, 2008. Helps publishers grow their businesses by creating highly efficient, high quality programmatic advertising marketplaces that deliver optimal value to all buyers and sellers of digital advertising. Has 251-500 employees. A Supply Side Platform (SSP) leader, the OpenX Native Exchange allows publishers a great deal of control and also access to one of the largest demand pools available.
  • Sharethrough was launched January 1, 2013. It is a full-stack platform that enables content publishers to manage in-feed, native monetization. Publishers include Popular Science, Men’s Health and RealSimple. There are 150+ employees across North America and Europe. 23 of 25 AdAge Megabrands use the Sharethrough Exchange.
  • AdsNative Adsnative was founded in 2013 and has received $2M in 2 rounds. This is a content ad server that allows publishers to better monetize websites and apps through in-feed native ads. They currently have between 11-50 employees. Publishers include ABC news, Politico, Cracked.com, and Disqus.
  • Bidtellect was founded January 3, 2013. 101-250 employees. Funding $49.2M in 3 rounds. Platform allows brands to activate native advertising campaigns in real-time bidding.
  • Nativo was founded June 7, 2010. They have received $51.2M in 5 rounds. A leading advertising technology platform for publishers to scale, automate and measure native ads. Has over 350 publishers. Over 20 employees.
  • Polar was founded in 2007. Polar MediaVoice enables publishers to place native advertisements in-stream across their sites and improve the existing ad infrastructure. They received $14M in 3 rounds. They have over 50 employees.
  • MoPub was founded in 2010 and acquired by Twitter on September 9, 2013, with a clear focus on mobile ads. They received $18.5M in 4 rounds from 6 investors, and have between 101-250 employees. Mopub enables publishers to understand ad performance and user engagement. Top publishers include myfitnesspal and Tango.
  • StackAdapt was founded June 1, 2013 and has between 11-50 employees. They have received $900K in a seed round. It is categorized as a native advertising demand side platform tapping into native ad exchanges and premium publishers.
  • Zemanta was founded in 2007 and has received $11M in funding from 7 rounds. It is a content suggestions plugin for content creators that suggests links, images, keywords and tags that are content relevant. They have over 20 employees.
  • Distroscale was founded in 2013 and is a platform and marketplace for delivering, managing, and measuring native content across websites, mobile web and applications. They have over 20 employees.
  • PubMatic is the leading Supply Side Platform (SSP), having raised $63M. PubMatic’s Native Ads solution checks off all the boxes for cross-channel offerings, access to advertiser demand, control, and a mix of standard and flexible ad formats. PubMatic works mostly with very large publishers.
  • TripleLift Formed in 2012 and has raised $16.6M across 4 rounds of funding. Strong design and focus on real time bidding (RTB) capabilities for native ads. Triplelift has a network of 2300 publishers including Hearst, The Knot, and USA Today.

The following native advertising platforms have a strong mobile focus:

  • PubNative is a mobile publisher platform that serves scalable and flexible native ads via API for apps and mobile web. Founded in July 2014; no funding has been announced.
  • Kargo was founded in 2003. Focused on mobile and tablets, the platform connects top B2C brands like P&G, Unilever, and McDonaldss with publisher audiences. Has over 150 companies and over 100 employees.
  • Yieldmo was founded in 2012. Received funding of $32.1M in 4 rounds. Has 51-100 employees. Enables marketers to purchase high quality non-banner ad inventory in Yieldmo’s patent-pending, consumer friendly ad formats on the mobile pages and apps of premium publishers.
  • Adtile was rounded August 1, 2010. Native advertising solution for the mobile industry. Adtile Motion Technology takes advantage of some of the unique capabilities of mobile phones (such as gyro and GPS) to deliver innovative ad products. Has at least 20 employees. Received $7.2M in 2 rounds.
  • Namo Media was founded in 2013 and acquired by Twitter in 2014. They received $1.9M in funding from over 14 investors. This technology allows any mobile app to do mobile advertising like Facebook that sit in-stream rathe than in banner ads.
  • Inmobi is focused more on native ads within mobile applications. Founded in 2007 and has raised $220M over 5 rounds.

A native advertising platform can help publishers tap into growing programmatic native ad buys and programs. A direct sales effort is a key complement to this – contact TechCrowds to help if you are looking to outsource some or all of your native ad sales.

Let us know your experiences with these native ad platform vendors or if we are missing any in the comments.

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Best Practices for Outsourced Startup Software Sales

Outsourcing at least a portion of your sales operations can be a smart move for early stage startups. It can accelerate growth, help bring in key early customers and expand the skill set and fill in the gaps that may be missing in your early team. For a bootstrapped, B2B SaaS startup this can especially make sense for technical founders or small product teams that don’t have lots of sales and marketing expertise.

There’s lots of writing out there that sales is too strategic to outsource and that even highly technical founders need to be sales driven. In an ideal world this is true, but the Technical Founder has a choice – spend lots of time and try to develop these capabilities in house, or partner with a firm that already has these capabilities and focus limited time and energy on where he/she drives real value. Just as there are lots of experience, tools, and a network of connections that allows skilled developers and technical types to build great products efficiently, an experienced sales and marketing firm can do the same to drive immediate revenue.

Some Best Practices for working with an Outsourced Sales Team:

      • First and foremost obviously look to find a long term partner. Beyond the interview/getting to know process, there will be a ramp up time for the sales firm to understand your value proposition, product, pricing, ideal target customers, use cases, etc., not to mention typical sales cycles to start seeing revenue. If you find a good partner it is best to invest in the relationship up front. Consider a retainer vs. pure commission setup so both sides are committed to seriously making it work and have skin in the game.
      • An ideal outsourced sales partner, rep firm or reseller will be focused on your niche. They’ll understand your offerings, perhaps sell complementary ones, and have a network of contacts to tap into that fit your target customer profile.
      • Go on calls/meetings together with the sales firm, particularly early on. The firm will better understand your positioning and responses to objectives to use later on their own, and you’ll get a feel for the firms style and hear direct customer feedback.
      • Share leads with the outsourced sales firm/reseller. Keeps them engaged and your product top of mind.
      • Have a weekly or bi-weekly call with the outsourced sales firm. Even if it’s 15 mins to get an update on pipeline, talk through prospect/customer feedback, or update them on product roadmap it’s important to keep the lines of communications open and both sides accountable.
      • Set up a CRM system (many are free/low cost to start) for the outsourced firm to use. This will give you visibility into pipeline, get a sense of how much outbound activity is happening, and what is happening on any specific account. If the engagement ends you’ll have a database of customers/prospects and history of communications to start with.
      • Look to productize and systemize the sales operations and processes. As your team grows it may make sense to bring some or all of these capabilities in house.

If you are in the B2B marketing, SaaS or Ad Sales niche and looking for an outsourced sales partner contact TechCrowds.

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Setting up a Direct Native Ad Sales Process

Here are some tips, best practices and processes we’ve used to set up a scaleable, direct native ad sales business that works for publishers, advertisers/sponsors, and readers:

Editorial Content Hurdle:

The most important point is that the editorial staff has final say over what gets covered and published.  It needs to be a product they believe in, a fit for the audience, and in the style and tone of the rest of the content on the site. Reject products that will reflect poorly on your site’s authority.

  • For SEO purposes it should be original and exclusive content.
  • Integrate content into the typical flow of how the reader uses the site.
  • Posts or articles should be marked as “sponsored” so it is clear to the reader that it is paid content.
  • Try to show the product in action solving a problem or being used to build something vs. a straight product review.

Process:

  • Get agreement up front on the topic and outline of the content. Some advertisers will want to be more thorough and involved with input up front, others will trust your site’s understanding of the market and audience.
  • Get payment up front as there are hard costs with creating content – lining up and paying authors/writers, editing, etc.  Advertisers understand and expect this.
  • Allow final review for the advertiser.  This can be a bit tricky but especially if it’s a technical or complex article, accuracy and catching any errors before going live is essential.

ROI:

  • Sponsored content is a great way to break through clutter on the web and for an advertiser to get their message across.  Goals can be around branding/awareness, engagement, education, thought leadership around a topic, and
  • From ad/publisher perspective, it makes sense to bundle in other ad products that may have a more direct call to action (trial download, some sort of lead magnet like a webinar/white paper, etc.).
  • Try for a series of sponsored content where it makes sense.  Consider charging a premium for a sponsor to own a particular category.
  • Report on metrics like unique page views, time spent, social media shares, comments, click throughs to advertiser site, etc.

These are some of the ways to set up and run a repeatable, scaleable native ad sales business.  A great way to ensure there is good audience feedback and alignment is to proactively reach out to brands that editorial is already considering covering or have covered at a high level but could drill deeper into.  If you don’t have a direct ad sales team, Contact TechCrowds for representation.

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Online Ad Sales Stack

Here are some of the tools (mostly free) that we use to run an efficient online advertising sales operation and keep a steady pipeline of new prospects and deals coming in the door:

Boomerang for Gmail – Best reminder system for following up on emails.  If no one responds to an email, have it sent back to you at a specified time.  Also schedule emails to be sent out at a later date. $5/mo per user

Canned Responses for Gmail – Set up a canned response for any prospecting, pricing, product, FAQs, or any other recurring text string.  Saves a ton of time.  Free.

Rapportive for Gmail – bought by LinkedIn, shows LinkedIn profiles directly in Gmail.  Also a quick way to verify the correct email address.  Free.

Capture from RingLead – Chrome extension or Salesforce app to easily capture contact information across the web.  Free.

LinkedIn Premium – worth the extra price for InMails when you can’t find someone’s email address; also advanced search features to quickly find exactly the right prospects and connections.

Calendly – No more back and forth on scheduling conference calls or meetings.  Integrates directly with multiple Gmail calendars. Free tier offers one meeting length (15 min calls for example).  Free.

Google Publisher Toolbar – if your site is running Google Adwords as backfill gives details on where ads are coming from; or block ads right from your site.  Free.

Ghostery – Chrome extension that shows what tracking pixels are on a given website.  Free.

CRM – Keeping track of prospects, customers and sales pipeline.  3 levels depending on size of organization

Top:  Salesforce, market leader with tons of integrations

Medium:  PipelineDeals – very user friendly, has everything for $20/mo/user

Free (to start):  Insightly – not a great UI but robust free tier

FreshBooks – Cloud based invoicing system. Incredibly well designed and easy to use – makes it dead simple  track invoices, collections, expenses, taxes, and produce financial reports.  Lots of integrations including PayPal, banks, etc. Free tier; paid starts at $20/mo.

Trello – Great tool for everything from Project management/Group collaboration to To Do Lists to keep organized and focused.  Free.

Slack – team collaboration, chat, messaging.  Free.

What other tools are in your online ad sales stack?

 

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Expand Your Digital Ad Sales in the US with an Ad Rep Firm – Go Beyond Adwords

For web publishers looking to monetize their audience and traffic, the game has definitely changed over the years. For anyone relying on Google Ad Words or other forms of display banner ad revenue through ad networks or exchanges, the long term trend for CPM’s has obviously been steadily declining. Plummeting click through rates (CTR) have made tying back ROI very difficult for direct marketing advertisers, pushing CPM’s down. Larger advertisers with bigger budgets and branding and awareness goals are still buying up some inventory on high value sites, but the rise of programmatic display buying has further commoditized banner inventory. Bot traffic, impression and click fraud (Moz just wrote again on the $7.5B alleged in online ad fraud), content farms and BuzzFeed style clickbait content doesn’t help with advertiser confidence.

Users are conditioned now to skip their eyes over banner ads. Ad blocking software is becoming more and more prevalent – some see this as “stealing” content from publishers, but fighting that technology is a losing battle.

Some high value, B2B websites have been able to grow their business through direct ad sales. Here’s a checklist of things to do when moving beyond Google AdWords into direct ad sales:

Moving Beyond Google AdWords to Direct Ad Sales – a Checklist:

  • Install an ad server to manage direct buys/traffic creative and report on programs.

DFP for SMB is free to get started with. There are also white label solutions for advertisers to make self service buys on your site from BuySellAds and various SSPs (Supply Side Platforms) that will help manage and optimize the overall display fill.

  • Develop a Data Strategy

As a publisher, your audience data is your most valuable asset. Smart publishers are developing data strategies – both how to collect data, get more of it (registration/engagement), and then how to monetize. You can sell it off for third parties or try to use some of the tools out there to take advantage of this yourself. If a user is on your site performing searches and reading articles around high intent to purchase keywords, for example, this data can be bundled up and sold to advertisers in reports or on a subscription basis as timely, actionable data.

  • Expand your ad products beyond banners/display.

Depending on your audience and niche, these may include:

  • Custom Content creation
  • Sponsored Content/native ads
  • Lead generation products (white papers, webcasts, reports, PDF’s)
  • Sponsored social media
  • Face to face events – attendee or ad sponsored

Expanding Internationally? Consider a US Based Ad Rep Firm:

Once some of this structure is in place, consider working with an ad rep firm as an initial first step into direct ad sales. This is a low risk way to get expertise on making the transition, tap into a pool of buyers, and start generating revenue without having to open up a sales office or hire and manage full time employees.

TechCrowds is a US based ad rep firm representing publishers with direct ad sales services. Ideal clients for a partnership have a targeted, desirable audience niche; generate at least 5M monthly unique users, and have a mix of ad products including display, sponsored content (link)/custom content/native ads, and/or events. As a US based ad sales rep firm, we’ve been particularly helpful for UK, Australia, or other internationally based publishers looking to break into the US market.

Contact Us to discuss working together.

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FAQs and Best Practices for Tuts+ sponsored content

FAQs and Best Practices for Tuts+ sponsored content

How does it work?

Tuts+ partners with brands to create and promote educational content in the areas of Web and Mobile App Development (Code.tutsplus.com), WebDesign, Design, and Photography. There is an editorial review process – the sponsor, product and proposed topic must be relevant, high quality and appropriate for the audience, and original and exclusive to Tuts+

Overall, a good sponsored content program must be:

• Educational for the readers, and marked as sponsored content
• Consistent with the tone and style of the site
• Turnkey content creation process for the marketer
• Measurable ROI with a strong call to action and engagement metrics

What does it look like, and what are some good topics/examples?

Good sponsored content topics are educational in nature and not a straight sales pitch. They often show how to set up/use your product effectively, often in terms of a specific project outcome. A good strategy is often an overview/101 tutorial drawing people in on the overall problem/market, and then additional tutorials drilling down on specific use cases, features, or point products. Good tutorials show a product in action helping to build or create something or solve a problem.

With Tuts+, sponsored content can be either:

1. Tutorials – typically written with Screenshots, although sometimes video. Here are some examples:
New Relic: Series of 13 examples on Performance Monitoring of Web and Mobile Apps
Atlassian/BitBucket: Using Pull Requests as Code Reviews
Dolby: 3 Part Series on Dolby’s Mobile API
Wacom: How to Design a Weathered Illustrative Logo Set in Adobe Illustrator (video)

2. Video Courses
Adobe Muse: Designing and Publishing Websites with Adobe Muse
Invision: UX Prototyping for Mobile Devices with Invision

Who produces it?

Tuts+ editors spearhead the collaboration process to agree on topic and outline. A Tuts+ editor or third party author is typically contracted as part of the program and produces the content. If the vendor has the ability to create content to a suitable standard and can adhere to Tuts+ style guides that is also an option.

How is it promoted? How long do the tutorials stay live?

Tutorials stay live as long as they are relevant, often driving significant traffic for years. Each tutorial is published on Tuts+ and promoted out via social media (Twitter/Facebook/Google+), email newsletter, and RSS.

Codetuts+ for example has 138K Twitter followers and 102K Facebook fans.

Can I include a special offer or other call to action?

Yes, it’s best practice to include a backlink or two in the tutorials driving people to your site to learn more, take advantage of a discount or free trial, etc. Programs often tie in banner ads, newsletters or sponsored social media to drive more direct response.

How do we measure success?
Success metrics for sponsored content include:

Unique visitors to tutorials
Time spent (engagement)
Social Shares and conversation
Comments on page
CTR on banner ads and newsletters
Other traffic and links back to your site and offers – there you can of course measure new signups, trials, purchases, opt-ins, leads, etc.

Can I use this content on my site?

You can link to it, share it, promote it, etc. There is also an option to turn a written tutorial into a co-branded PDF for use in lead nurturing/email marketing programs.

Have other questions or want to get started? Email me – Jeremy (@) techcrowds.com

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Effective Web Developer Marketing Strategies and Tactics

Effective Web Developer Marketing Strategies and Tactics

Web Developers are a notoriously difficult group to market to (some call it “B2D” or Business-to-Developer). Whether they identify as coders, programmers, “brogrammers”, devs, app builders, etc., as a group they are:

      • very skeptical,
      • obviously *extremely* web savvy
      • i.e. they don’t like to give up their personal info on lead generation forms,
      • part of the 1% that actually knows and cares what marketers are doing to cookie them, target them, remarket to them, etc.
      • likely a higher % use ad blockers
      • generally have a disdain for sales and marketing (instead they have a strong belief that the product is all that should matter).
      • not afraid to be very vocal if they feel an advertiser/marketer has been deceptive or crossed a line

So are there any web developer marketing strategies that actually work? Well, it is actually possible to build effective developer marketing programs. Developers do still want to learn about new and interesting companies, software and tools that help them do their jobs better. Here are a few successful developer marketing strategies and tactics:

  1. Banner ads – haha, ok just kidding, mostly. Banner ads have notoriously low click through rates (CTR) industry wide, and they are even lower with a developer audience. However it *can* sometimes work with the right targeting . And worse case the thing that banners are effective at is good old fashioned branding – a four letter word to some but still proven to be effective if you have the budget and awareness/recall are the goals vs. direct response. Familiarity with a brand can have a powerful subconscious effect when it comes time to download a free trial or create a vendor short list.
  2. Free T-shirts – you can’t walk around San Francisco without bumping into some sort of developer tools or technology t-shirt. Check out this New Relic partner offers page – free trials, discounts, and t-shirts (6 out of 28 vendors) are the top offers. Just make sure you splurge for the high thread count. Programmers don’t like the cheap Hanes tees.
  3. Free Beer and Pizza, i.e. sponsor a meet up, hackathon, etc.

    Two more ways that I personally have found effective for companies like Atlassian, New Relic, etc.:

  4. Humor is always a good way to break through the clutter and deliver a marketing message. Vooza is a video comic strip about a fictional startup that is a big hit with web developers, designers, etc. They do some of their episodes as branded episodes or native ads – find out more on how this can work here.
  5. Educational content on trusted sites like Codetuts+Tuts+. Developers of course have an arsenal of apps, tools, platforms, and technologies to help them do their jobs. Educational content that can show your product in action solving a problem or building an app can be very effective to drive education/demand/adoption. Here are some examples of sponsored content programs on Tuts+:

And yes I represent both of those companies if you’d like to talk about developer marketing programs on Tuts+ and Vooza for your company.

To wrap up, some other good perspectives on developer marketing are Tom Tunguz, a VC at Redpoint on how B2D go-to-market strategy (and marketing) differs from enterprise, and some musings on the challenge from a marketer, Hilary Cook at Mindscape how to market to programmers and how not to.

What have you seen work (or not work) with marketing to developers?

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Funny and effective Native Ads? Yes it’s possible

Funny and effective Native Ads?  Yes it’s possible

Recently I started representing Vooza, an app that steals your personal data and sends it to Eastern European spammers. Ok just kidding, they are a video comic strip that makes fun of the startup world. Similar in tone and material to HBO’s Silicon Valley although they’ve been doing it in online video form for 3 years. Vooza has a big and loyal audience among web developers, designers, marketers, and entrepreneurs. TechCrunch and others are big fans too.

(And yes that spammer joke was stolen from Matt Ruby, the standup comic/1st employee at 37Signals/Steve Jobs impersonator and fictional CEO and real life brains behind Vooza.)

The cool marketing angle around Vooza is that they do some of their shows as “Branded Episodes”, where the sponsors product is woven into the fabric of the show. The key is it’s still funny and relevant which is what the audience is there for. It also works as a way to break through the clutter and deliver a message to a scattered audience that is also skeptical of being marketed to. Like this episode for email marketing company MailChimp – a Glengarry Glen Ross spoof where instead of “Always Be Closing” it’s “Always Be Clicking”. It works for other great brands like Atlassian (Flow State), New Relic (What is “DevOps”), and Name.com. You can see all the Vooza videos here.

The team can also produce funny custom videos with non-Vooza characters if the web development/design/startup crowd is not the target. This Insightly CRM video likely hits close to home for any sales rep or manager going over a pipeline update. Vooza can even can even liven up conferences with in character speaking engagements (Matt in the CEO character starts at the 3:30 mark at the Next Web Conference here).

Contact me if you want to talk about how we can do a branded Vooza episode or funny, native ad custom video.

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