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Do Developers Hate Marketing?

Do Developers Hate Marketing?

Are developers open to marketing?  A few months ago, I attended a developer marketing conference during which a panelist said:

“Developers hate marketing.”

I don’t agree with that.

I think developers don’t like bad marketing.

People, in general, don’t like bad marketing, so I don’t think developers are any special here.

When someone says “developers hate marketing,” I always associate this with an old car salesperson:

We Don’t Want to Be This Guy

Source: Used Cars, 1980, Columbia Pictures

Kurt Russell


Marketers don’t want to be mistaken for the Kurt Russell character in Used Cars. These folks usually use shady tactics and push features, not solutions.

Most will agree that (most) organizations today don’t do this.

At Evans Data Developer Relations Conference in March 2019, Willie Tejada, IBM Chief Developer Advocate, said this:

On marketing to developers:

It’s not true that developers don’t want to be marketed to; they are simply very very educated “consumers.”

Here is an example of buying an espresso machine (such as Nespresso).
People will spend a disproportional amount of time learning about the machine and how it works. When they go to the store to buy it, if the salesperson knows less than the buyer, the buyer will be frustrated. We don’t like when we go to buy something, and we know more about the product than the person selling it to us.

There are many great books on marketing out there. A great book I recently read is This is Marketing by Seth Godin. Here is how the book defines marketing:

Marketing is the generous act of helping someone solve a problem. Their problem.

And this one:

Marketers offer solutions, opportunities for humans to solve their problems, and move forward.

There is nothing inherently bad about marketing to developers. Companies simply need to be helping to solve developers’ problems. If we do this, then we won’t need to say that developers hate marketing (hopefully).

Our goal should always be to share outcomes and results, not features. My all-time favorite resource is Adam DuVander’s Share Knowledge, Not Features.

I think here is one good example of that (there are thousands more of course):

Webflow Screenshot

Source: https://webflow.com

Webflow is a No Code platform to build websites. Above is their home page. Webflow is not telling people that they have a visual HTML editor – that’s a feature. They are telling people what problems they can solve, what is the outcome – build a better website, faster, without coding.

Whether you call it developer marketing or something else – let’s help developers solve their problems, show them solutions, outcomes, and share knowledge.

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