🗂 Link: Tips for using Instagram as an artist

Trying to get a gallery? Group shows are a great way for artists of all career levels to gain visibility. So in your Instagram posts, catch the attention of curators and gallerists by sharing talking points about your work’s theme and intentions, medium and materials. Want a public-art commission or a social-practice residency? Create context by posting yourself in related settings. Are you a teaching artist, or do you lead workshops? Does your art practice connect you with communities outside the art world? Do you work in or with nature? Have you thought deeply about monuments? Find ways to convey your special qualities and expertise through what you post. Show you understand concepts of public art and community in the current moment, and what it means to work on the public stage. This doesn’t mean just showing finished works—it means spotlighting your entire process and practice as it plays out, in real time.

Source: Tips for using Instagram as an artist

🗂 Link: What the heck are content experiences, and why are we overhyping them? A skeptical riff

The two “tent poles” of quality B2B content are:

Thought-provoking stuff that stakes your industry vision and customer know-how, making those who aren’t even your customers want to follow you.
Helpful content from internal experts that covers the nitty-gritty of your products and services.
In other words, all B2B content should either entertain or inform. Informing is easier.

Source: What the heck are content experiences, and why are we overhyping them? A skeptical riff

Link: Focus Your Optimistic Brand Message on a Smaller Circle of Consumer Influence

Our research shows that time and again, consumers will express pessimism and frustration about the state of broader society, while espousing hope for their personal lives. It would seem that consumers don’t see much to be positive about at the societal level these days, so instead they are looking closer to home and within themselves for optimism.

This means brands with values, identity and voice rooted in optimism should focus that positive messaging and imagery on a smaller circle of influence surrounding consumers, e.g., their home, their close community, their family and themselves.

Source: Focus Your Optimistic Brand Message on a Smaller Circle of Consumer Influence

Link: Adobe Summit 2019 analysis – CX hype is countered by Chegg’s digital turnaround story

Chegg isn’t digital-only today. They still ship five million textbooks a year – but their mission has changed. And, as Narayan pointed out, they now need new metrics. Rosensweig said those metrics include subscriber growth, revenue growth, engagement, renewal, and conversion rates. But there’s an underlying metric: create something awesome.

What we learned was you not only have to get them to subscribe, you [also have to] lower your cost to customer acquisition, which at one point for us was 27 dollars. Now it’s $3.50. Our renewal rates were 63 percent; they’re now in the mid-80s for a monthly renewal.

Source: Adobe Summit 2019 analysis – CX hype is countered by Chegg’s digital turnaround story

Link: Google makes emails more dynamic with AMP for Email

With AMP for Email, those messages become interactive. That means you’ll be able to RSVP to an event right from the message, fill out a questionnaire, browse through a store’s inventory or respond to a comment — all without leaving your web-based email client.

Some of the companies that already support this new format are Booking.com, Despegar, Doodle, Ecwid, Freshworks, Nexxt, OYO Rooms, Pinterest and redBus. If you regularly get emails from these companies, then chances are you’ll receive an interactive email from them in the coming weeks.

Source: Google makes emails more dynamic with AMP for Email

Link: eBooks vs. Whitepapers

Tirone expanded further by saying that whitepapers are often used by marketers to highlight the brand’s value proposition — which could be a product, service, or solution — in a polished deliverable with strong visuals and writing. “The structure of a whitepaper can vary, but the common components remain pretty consistent; [it starts with identifying] a problem, [followed by a] methodology, guidance, [and then the proposed] resolution,” he explained.

There’s several opinions of which work better for getting customers. One of them:

“EBooks perform well at the “awareness” stage of the buyer journey, where a person is trying to accumulate information about a particular product or service and wants to gain a comprehensive understanding first. [Consumers at this stage] are more concerned about the “problem” part of the equation.” said Kapoor. “Whitepapers, on the other hand, target people in the “decision” stage in the buying-journey. Whitepapers are introduced when a person versed with the basics [is] looking for “proven validation” of a concept to fuel their buying decision,” he continued.

I think white papers are good for specific topics, as most of the write-up says, people who are beyond the basics. Books can be that way too (of they collect together tactics and how to’s), but books do well as overviews of the basics, to make and describe the market/problems you’re selling solutions for.
Original source: eBooks vs. Whitepapers

Communicate the digital vision and strategy

This post is an early draft of a chapter in my book,  Monolithic Transformation.

Your employees listening to yet another annual vision and strategy pitch.

If a strategy is presented in the boardroom but employees never see, is it really a strategy? Obviously, not. Leadership too often believes that the strategy is crystal clear but staff usually disagree. For example, in a survey of 1,700 leaders and staff, 69% of leaders said their vision was “pragmatic and could easily translated into concrete projects and initiatives.” Employees, had a glummer picture: only 36% agreed.

Your staff likely doesn’t know the vision and strategy. More than just understanding it, they rarely know how they can help. As Boeing’s Nikki Allen put it:

In order to get people to scale, they have to understand how to connect the dots. They have to see it themselves in what they do — whether it’s developing software, or protecting and securing the network, or provisioning infrastructure — they have to see how the work they do every day connects back to enabling the business to either be productive, or generate revenue.

There’s little wizardry to communicating strategy. First, it has to be compressible. But, you already did that when you established your vision and strategy…right? Next, you push it through all the mediums and channels at your disposal to tell people over and over again. Chances are, you have “town hall” meetings, email lists, and team meetings up and down your organization. Recording videos and podcasts of you explaining the vision and strategy is helpful. Include strategy overviews in your public speaking because staff often scrutinizes these recordings. While “Enterprise 2.0” fizzled out several years ago, Facebook has trained all us to follow activity streams and other social flotsam. Use those habits and the internal channels you have to spread your communication.

You also need to include examples of the strategy in action, what worked and didn’t work. As with any type of persuasion, getting people’s peers to tell their stories are the best examples. Google and others find that celebrating failure with company-wide post mortems is instructive, career-ending crazy as that may sound. Stories of success and failure are valuable because you can draw a direct line between high-level vision to fingers on keyboard. If you’re afraid of sharing too much failure, try just opening up status metrics to staff. Leadership usually underestimates the value of organization-wide information radiators, but staff usually wants that information to stop prairie dogging through their 9 to 5.

As you’re progressing, getting feedback is key: do people understand it? Do people know what to do to help? If not, then it’s time to tune your messages and mediums. Again, you can apply a small batch process to test out new methods of communicating. While I find them tedious, staff surveys help: ask people if they understand your strategy. Be to also ask if know how to help execute the strategy.

Manifestos can help decompose a strategy into tangible goals and tactics. The insurance industry is on the cusp of turbulent competitive landscape. To call it “disruptive,” would be too narrow. To pick one sea of chop, autonomous vehicles are “changing everything about our personal auto line and we have to change ourselves,” says Liberty Mutual’s Chris Bartlow. New technologies are only one of many fronts in Liberty’s new competitive landscape. Every existing insurance company and cut-throat competitors like Amazon are using new technologies to both optimize existing business models and introduce new ones.

“We have to think about what that’s going to mean to our products and services as we move forward,” Bartlow says. Getting there required re-engineering Liberty’s software capabilities. Like most insurance companies, mainframes and monoliths drove their success over past decades. That approach worked in calmer times, but now Liberty is refocusing their software capability around innovation more than optimization. Liberty is using a stripped down set of three goals to make this urgency and vision tangible.

“The idea was to really change how we’re developing software. To make that real for people we identified these bold, audacious moves — or ‘BAMS,’” says Liberty Mutual’s John Heveran:

These BAMs grounded Liberty’s strategy, giving staff very tangible, if audacious, goals. With these in mind, staff could start thinking about how they’d achieve those goals. This kind of manifesto, makes strategy actionable.

So far, it’s working. “We’re just about cross the chasm on our DevOps and CI/CD journey,” says Liberty’s Miranda LeBlanc. “I can say that because we’re doing about 2,500 daily builds, with over a 1,000 production deployments per a day,” she adds. These numbers are tracers of putting a small batch process in place that’s used to improve the business. They now support around 10,000 internal users at Liberty and are better provisioned for the long ship ride into insurance’s future.

Choosing the right language is important for managing IT transformation. For example, most change leaders suggest dumping the term “agile.” At this point, near 25 years into “agile,” everyone feels like they’re agile experts. Whether that’s true is irrelevant. You’ll faceplam your way through transformation if you’re pitching switching to a methodology people believe they’ve long mastered.

It’s better to pick your own branding for this new methodology. If it works, steal the buzzwords du jour, from “cloud native,” DevOps, or serverless. Creating your own brand is even better. As we’ll discuss later, Allstate created a new name, CompoZed Labs, for its transformation effort. Using your own language and branding can help bring smug staff onboard and involved. “Oh, we’ve always done that, we just didn’t call it ‘agile,’” sticks-in-the-mud are fond of saying as they go off to update their Gantt charts.

Make sure people understand why they’re going through all this “digital transformation.” And make even more sure they know how to implement the vision and strategy, or, as you start thinking, our strategy.

This post is an early draft of a chapter in my book,  Monolithic Transformation.

Link: The New Affluents

Time to reap: “Several traits about the new affluents distinguish them as ideal prospective customers for brands of all sectors. In particular, luxury brands looking to woo customers with a little extra in their pockets might find this group a good place to start. Gen Xers’ share of national wealth is forecast to grow from under 14% in 2015 to nearly 31% by 2030, while Millennials’ share is forecast to grow from just 4% in 2015 to 16% by 2030, according to Gartner research. Additionally, this group is likely to be raising families and becoming first-time homebuyers, making them prime targets for home and CPG brands…. Though the new affluents want to save, they are likely to be in the midst of costly life transitions related to family and are also paying off significant debt, meaning money management is definitely on their mind.”
Original source: The New Affluents

Link: Stoicism made simple

Aside from the last, this is good advice for any advice format, I including the hustle-medium of marketing:

“– Stoicism is focused on uncomplicated theories of life
– Stoicism is so clear that you can take action from the advice immediately
– Study is not required to understand Stoicism
– The most read Stoic is Lucius Seneca. Marcus Aurelius is also very popular”

Original source: Stoicism made simple

Link: Authenticity Wins

Put user generated content in your Web 2.0 hustling mix:

“The study also highlights other social media nuances that might be easy to overlook. While posts featuring user-generated content deliver a higher lift than traditional brand posts, the research makes clear that filling your feed with UGC images isn’t always the way to go. Luxury beauty brands see a 23% engagement lift from UGC, yet auto brands see a more modest 3% increase. This could be a matter of frequency, as luxury brands feature user-generated content in only 2% of posts, while auto companies include it in a fifth of content.”
Original source: Authenticity Wins

Link: What is Developer Advocacy?

“Developer Advocacy has many names. You may have heard it referred to as Developer Relations or Evangelism, and while these roles vary company to company, we all essentially do the same thing — We represent software developers. I like to say that it’s my job to ask dumb questions so you don’t have to, but the real goal of a Developer Advocate is to become the voice of the user. We gather feedback in a way that most developers don’t, then use that feedback to shape the product to become what it needs to be.”
Original source: What is Developer Advocacy?

Word of mouth trumps facts

I recently met with the CEO of a large shoe retailer who said something that resonated with me. To paraphrase, he said, “If I show content that has Kanye West in a pair of our sneakers, along with a link to buy the sneakers, that’s going to be much more successful than an ad explaining why that sneaker is great.” He was referring to the rise of sneaker culture and how stars can have a big impact.

But the flip side is that people believe what they perceive to be “authentic.” We are living in a society where perceived authenticity holds greater weight over right or wrong. Although Google is only a voice command away, we are increasingly less likely to check the veracity of someone who we believe is telling the truth.

Moreover, we are likely to continue believing our friends even after hearing a contradictory truth from someone we don’t know.

With commodity goods like shoes, much of that seems fine: there’s little functional difference between them except the intangible, subjective “feature” of brand that exists only in people’s heads.

On the other end where there are more factual differences between products – let’s say things like bluetooth headphones, cars, computers, and dishwashers – wading through all the comparing fact claims is exhausting and getting a trusted friend to recommend something is valuable. Or, there’s sites like The Wirecutter for people who like to read.

Link

Hustlin’ webinars

Hey, sometimes a Johnny Leadgen PDF has some useful info in it. This PDF from BrightTalk (a webinar hosting company that, in my experience, is the best all around) goes over some tips on promoting your webinar:

  • “The ideal promotional campaign spans about 4 weeks prior to the live event, with a minimum suggested promotion time of about 2.5 weeks.”

And for each social hole:

Screenshot 2016-10-04 09.54.02.png

“[U]sing it as a way to escape for a bit.” That’s the one.

There’s some other, mostly obvious, but good to reminded of stuff in the PDF.

Link: Don’t make the mistake of thinking the CIO is irrelevant – TechRepublic

“The world isn’t about to end, however. Yes, Forrester reveals in its “Understanding Shifting Technology Acquisition Patterns” research note that lines of business are taking on a greater role in technology purchasing, removing IT from the purchasing process in 6.3% of new technology purchases in 2013, rising to 7.2% in 2015, while IT-only purchases will fall from 23.7% (2013) to 21.6% (2015).”

From 2014.

Source: Don’t make the mistake of thinking the CIO is irrelevant – TechRepublic

Tips on using social media from analyzing how celebrities manage their brands

Some highlights from the article that seem to apply to any marketing use of social media:

  • “If staying on message is the first rule of corporate communications, it is also the cardinal sin of social media.”
  • Each medium has it’s own format and expectations: “corporations can and should differentiate their approach to each platform, digital-marketing experts say.”
  • “Instagram is stylish, behind the scenes” – well, for most of us, “stylish” won’t apply. But the “behind the scenes” part is interesting.
  • “Validate your followers with likes, comments and retweets. It builds goodwill.”
  • Frequent factotumia – “It’s about showing up every single day and showing pieces of their lives rather than when they have a premiere or something to promote.”
  • “Instead of trying to get followers to buy their product, companies can gently boost their brand by commenting on current events.”

Source: What Celebrities Can Teach Companies About Social Media

When Marketing Is Strategy

A good overview of what marketing does and should be doing. It especially applies to commodity markets and for products that have little “real” differentiation except in the mind of the buyer (cars, beverages, raw materials, etc.). Fashion (low and high) would be an interesting case.

When Marketing Is Strategy

Matching journalism to the medium

I like this because it’s true of “marketing,” which still tends to operate under the constraints of long cycle time and constrained “space”:

But there is so much potential! Length no longer matters — it’s as cheap to publish 100,000 words as 100. Digital text can be continually updated, so it’s no longer necessary to write a new article every time there’s a small change to a story. Digital stories can be interactive — readers can enter their information, and the story can change to reflect their circumstances. It’s really exciting stuff, and we are just beginning to figure out how to take advantage of it.

From Is the media becoming a wire service.

Deepening the hole metaphor

“Remember that if you want to sell technology, don’t talk about technology but rather about what it achieves and delivers,” he explained. “As an analogy, when selling power drills, focus on the outcome – the scenic picture you will be able to hang on your wall that reminds you of your favorite place – not the length of the drill bits, not the hole it makes, not the picture hanger – but the feeling (outcome) you will ultimately enjoy.”

Cloud Marketing, a parable

Prospect: “Guy Fieri said I should get a tuna sandwich with swiss cheese melted on it and sirachi, can I get that?”

Cloud vendor: “What? That guy’s a moron and a pan-man! That’s not what you want!”

Prospect: “But, but, I have the money…?”

Cloud vendor: “Listen, you don’t want a tuna sandwich, you want a locally, sourced, artisanal mid-day nourishment experience. It will change how you live your life. Read this white paper!”

Prospect: “Uh…I just want a tuna sandwich. Thanks…?”

The sad thing is, both sides are 110% right.

The Thought Leader is sort of a highflying, good-doing yacht-to-yacht concept peddler. Each year, he gets to speak at the Clinton Global Initiative, where successful people gather to express compassion for those not invited. Month after month, he gets to be a discussion facilitator at think tank dinners where guests talk about what it’s like to live in poverty while the wait staff glides through the room thinking bitter thoughts.

He doesn’t have students, but he does have clients. He doesn’t have dark nights of the soul, but his eyes blaze at the echo of the words “breakout session.”

He spends spring break unicycling across Thailand while reading to lepers.

Pro-tip: whenever you come up with a snappy marketing line, see what the opposite of it sounds like. Does that opposite state ever occur, is it “normal”? If not, then you might just have kind of said nothing.

To pick on this image (I’m sure they were well intentioned), does anyone create software to disempower people? (Let’s set aside viruses and NSA spying – even that software is written to empower the “bad guys” and spies, though, right?). No: computers, if functioning properly, are always there to empower people. That is, until the computers (or aliens) take over.

So, what you’d want to know is how the software empowers people.

I often call this the “computers are awesome!” anti-pattern in tech marketing. One might shorten and modernize it as “Because computers!”

Selling to Hoodie and the Sticker-Festooned – Building a Developer Relations Program to Win Over Developers as Paying Customers

I’m just about the give a short presentation on developer relations and marketing at our HCTS conference. For those who didn’t make it, here’re the slides and the “script” I typed out. As you may recall, I wrote a large report on this topic published back in August. It’s been fun talking with people about over recent months.

I often type out a “script” for presentations, not something I actually read, but just something to figure out what to say. Here’s the script for this one:

HCTS Developers

Hello, I head up the infrastructure software team at 451. Part of that is focusing on software development, developers. Back when I did real work, I was a programmer for a decade, so to me, the old saw applies: the answer is developers, what was the question?

Slide 2

More seriously, if you study the IT industry as I do, you notice a common trend: developers seem to gravitate around successful vendors and platforms. Sure, there’s a chicken and egg, cause/coorelation issue, but if we look at some big names, it’s obvious that having the good graces and favors of developers is key to making money in for many technology companies.

In the 90s and 2000s, Microsoft’s was a developer powerhouse, and still is, with countless applications written on its platforms. AWS rose to prominence rapidly from nowhere largely fueled by developers desire to run application on their platform. Similarly, Softlayer (now owned by IBM), expertly targeted developers as a core constituency. And, of course, there’s Apple, which is really cheating as an analyst to use as proof of anything.

We’ll get to some lesser known examples, but the message here is clear: developers matter a lot in the technology world and learning how to “market” to them is key for many vendors in this space. That’s what this talk is about: how to market to developers.

Slide 3

Now, as much as I like to be hyperbolic and categorical, not all technology companies need to worry too much about developers. Aside from the obvious cases – you’re selling middleware, IaaS, or PaaS – there’s an interesting heuristic to use to figure out if developers matter to you. As this timeline from Geva Perry shows, the role of developers in IT buying has been enabled by friction removal in the IT procurement cycle. If I have to go through months of fancy steak dinners and procurement paperwork, developers will have less of a role. If I can just download a database, install it in the public cloud, and go, there’s virtually no friction…and developers will more and more be the primary movers for IT procurement decisions.

Again, metered IaaS is an obvious match, and PaaS, of course. Look at your go-to-market – really map out each step it takes from concept to quote to cash – and see how much friction there is. The less friction, the more likely developers will be an important constituency.

Slide 4

Here’s two examples of that Heuristic at work: DigitalOcean and Atlassian.

DigitalOcean is one of the handful of SSD-fueled cloud providers out there that developers are flocking to. They do excellent product and developer marketing. Just like there’s less friction when you remove spinning dishes, the IaaS nature of getting to a blinking cursor in minutes to near frictionless. Developers love the easy performance boost SSD brings and the love how easy it is to sign up. As our recent reports on them show, this has resulted in 30% m/m growth and rocketed DigitialOcean to the 5th largest hosting company in the world according to Netcraft.

Atlassian is another example. They’ve been at it for years, putting out developer tools (requirements tracking, version control, etc.). They’re famous for having “no sales” and instead have removed so much friction from their GTM that developers can easily get their tools. And the tools are good. As you can see, Atlassian has been able to grow revenue from $59m in 2010 to $149m in 2013. That’s amazing consider that, you know, “developers don’t pay for anything.”

Both of these companies are good at developer relations and marketing and have harnessed developers to grow revenue. Let’s look at some highlights from my recent report going over tactics.

Slide 5

First, let’s define the goal of developer relations and marketing. I borrow this idea from several folks in the field, and it’s that you want to establish your technology as the de facto standard. Think Windows, HTML, Linux, the LAMP stack, the iPhone. Each of these became one of the top short-list choices for developers. Not all of them were “industry standads,” or even the #1 in the market, but they became de factor standards.

The result is that developers do all these activities in my Smart Art here:

  • they consider using your technology
  • they try it out
  • if they like it, they word of mouth it
  • they’ll purchase it (if it’s available to buy)
  • and they’ll use it

This is pretty classic stuff, but the point is focus your goals around establishing your technology as the de facto standard. You can do other things, but it’ll be more difficult: you’ll have to convince people that your “exotic” thing is needed, like high-end Unix boxes vs. Linux and Windows.

Slide 6:

How do you do this? A lot of hard work and time. Really. There are no simple solutions. As analysts marketers ask us for the quick wins a lot – esp. towards the end of the quarter and year ;)

To give you a sense of what a developer marketing program will look like, here’s some examples.

  • You’ll do classic things like advertising

  • You’ll provide white-paper level research to help developer understand and evaluate your offering

  • Training is a large part of developer relations, and also a revenue opportunity: you’re indoctrinating people

  • You’ll also need to understand developers needs. Right now, that has a lot to do with APIs and documentation for how to use them. APIs are becoming the de facto standard for how developers interact with platforms, and you’d better figure out your plan there. You’d think docs were obvious, but it’s shocking how often vendors miss this.

  • At the code level, developer marketing is also often done in code. I call that “code as marketing.” You might source extenstion, do some biz-dev to get others to do it, or lucky enough that your community can do so.

  • And there’s lots of publishing. Lots. The Internet is the primary channel to reach developers and stuffing that channel is all about content.

Staffing wise, this could be a partially dedicated person, but pretty quickly you’ll want someone fully dedicated who can keep all the threads going in their head. Also, they’ll start to establish a personal brand, credibility in the space. Developers actually like people, just developer-y people.

The team can obviously grow. SAP’s team is massive, and it has massive effect.

Slide 7

So, you’ve got a notion for what it looks like. How do you plan what to do?

Don’t just throw up a blog an start typing. Take some time to plan. Get some ice-tea and patinad table like these hipsters here and establish goals.

And don’t forget that you’re doing this for business reasons. Talk with sales to find out how you can help them with deal flow and closing. Talk with product management to see how you can be a bi-directional channel for driving product direction.

Know what you want to accomplish with your developer marketing program so you can measure and meter funding. Once you have the developer in hand, you need to pass them off to someone who can make money from them.

Obviously, you need to establish metrics so you can track progress and argue for more budget and corporate oxygen. I find that most people rarely base-line current performance how they’re currently doing before starting a new project, so that’s a good start: otherwise how do you know if it’s working or failing?

Finally, make sure you understand who “your” developers are. One off project lone wolves in coffee shops, startups, other vendors, enterprise developers? It drives what comes next.

Slide 8

So, what appeals to developers? It of course depends on how long their beard is.

More seriously, while there’s different types of developers, there are some core value props that usually work.

Developers like speed. They want to do more with less, they want things to compile quicker.

Many of them (not all!) want to try out new technologies. Their worth is all locked up in their head, so each time they learn something new, they become more valuable. Any many of them just like learning.

To that end, they like stability in their knowledge. It takes a long time to learn Java or node. They want the investment to pay off. Don’t be changing things around all the time.

They like solving riddles and puzzles. That’s what programming is, what tends to separate it from more “factory” like work.

The business side is simple: someone else comes up developers and tells them the requirements, what the code must do. This is where a lot of “enterprise grade” features come in like compliance, audit, and regulations. Developers generally don’t care about that, but they like satisfying the requirements.

And, while they may act – and dress – like they care, they care a great deal about getting paid. Those 128 gig iPhone 6 Pluses don’t pay for themselves. Developers rank themselves by pay like any one else. Money means freedom to developers, like most people.

Slide 9

Let’s close out by highlighting a few tactics from the report.

First, show up! Developers are very social, esp. online. There are numerous “communities” that they rely on for their work and entertainment. GitHub is popular, Hacker News, Stackoverflow, and numerous other sites. Large developer marketing programs like SAP even setup their own, highly successful communities.

We did a survey of the early mainstream DevOps market recently and found some interesting results there. Obviously we like the analyst reviews, but it also shows that “traditional” outlets are valuable to.

Find where developers are and go there.

Slide 10

So, when you show up, what’s the work product?

Content can take many forms. Blog posts are good, podcasts can work for certain types of developers if done right.

And look at everything as a “store front”: support forms, your docs, demos, and other “marketing material.” All of this, if tracked and experimented with properly is can the ether your developer marketing program flits about in.

Books can be oddly effective if you write one that’s a definitive “how to” of a narrow topic. I profile one on code reviewing that helped drive growth for SmartBear before it was acquired.

Presentations, webinars, and talks are always good as well. Check out what goes on daily at InfoQ. It’s documenting the tribal knowledge out there, which is incredibly valuable in a knowledge economy like developers.

Slide 11

Here’s some specific topic ideas, all of them good.

Let me highlight one, a wicked problem solved.

Back in 2012 when Thailand was flodded, Backblaze had a problem getting cheap hard-drives from its supplier. So they arranged employees to travel around the bay area and beyond to buy hard drives at CostCos and Best Buys. Developers loved this story. It’s a classic puzzle to solve in an almost subversive way. I know many, many developers who love and use Backblze.

Stories like this come out from other companies.

Also key is explaining your “philosophy” on the industry and even culture. To go back many years, as it was called then “37 Signals” used their philosophy of rebelling against Enterprise Java to help advance the adoption of rails and their own products.

Slide 12

So, other than reading my full report and doing crazy amounts of consulting with me, what are some tangible next steps?

  • Understand how developers will drive revenue and growth. How do they fit into your value chain?

  • Figure out who these developers are. There’s probably at least three types, if not more. Know them, and how long their beards are. And then go talk to them!

  • Start with some cheap experiments. Have a beer and write-up what you think is wrong with how things are done; record a screen-cast of an obscure feature in your platform; rise-wash-repeat. Just do something!

  • As you learn what works, get a regular cadence for content production. Blog posts, podcasts, docs, code, whatever works.

  • Finally, never forget that your job is to move product. Engage with sales and product folks to fit into their pipelines and process. If you round up all this developer favor, how do you deliver that into your companies money makers?

Slide 13

So, that’s a really quick overview. If you like reading, there’s a full report on the topic available. There’s a lot more in there like:

  • types of developers
  • the role conferences play
  • more on different channels and mediums, topic ideas and content
  • and several large and mini-case studies of what’s been successful at for other companies.

Speaking of case studies, we’ve put together a panel of folks who’ve been successful at developer marketing and relations and we’re going to debrief them now to help you understand developers more.

Coté Memo #047: Selling a “platform” is one of the more difficult tech marketing tasks you’ll ever do

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Quick Hits

  • Scores HipsterOps bingo!

  • These Pivotal people are up to something. They have a lot of pieces. Need some crazy visions. Cream on top.

Rants galore

There’s few people who speak their mind more openly and helpfully than @shanley. At least there’s someone throwing bombs.

I’ve enjoyed her weekly (daily?) rants on the OpenStack community of late.

Selling a “platform” is one of the more difficult tech marketing tasks you’ll ever do

I was discussing platform marketing recently in email. Here’s an except.

I think the market challenge [in selling a platform or “all inclusive middleware”] is forcing yourself to take on the perceptive of a blind man describing an elephant. You want so badly to be the man with two eyes describing everything; you want to go all Plato. That doesn’t work well early on, it’s too much for “the market” to consume, and they move on to simpler pitches.

Something like Apcera gets attention because it has fame behind it and they categorize themselves as a “PaaS,” a well know category (on the other hand, “PaaS” is a very confusing term once you look at more closely!). They enter into the conversation with these two things and then can helpfully deflect to being “policy driven” (a “fabric”), which a difficult concept to understand.

Sidebar: do you remember when Microsoft and VMware were going on and on about “fabrics” about 3-4 years ago? There was even vFabric! I never really understood what they meant (from their slides, not having dug into it) and I suspect the market didn’t either.

You use a good word below [in the email I’m responding to]: “orchestration.” And taking on that servicing the blind man and his elephant mentality, that might be a good way to describe these new types of platforms and middleware: we orchestrate the execution of enterprise applications. The thing to do is to pretty much stop there and just go out with that message. Describe what the problem is, what “orchestration” means, and then slowly trickle in your actual technology and how you’re different.

What’s frustrating to me is the conversation around things like Mesosphere and CoreOS. Both seem cool, but there’s very little talk about the business use of those technologies. Are we just talking about running “stateless” web and mobile apps (read: NOT enterprise software), or something else?

To go even more abstract, one of the problems I see in the developer world at the moment is that there’s very little “business analyst” think: that role that used to sit between the customer and the developers that understood the processes and needs of business and could tell the developers what that meant for code.

I don’t expect developers to map out business processes, but I think most platforms out there do. Developers need help understanding those processes. And once developers understand that their job (largely) is to write the code (or build the system) to automate and “computerize” those business processes, I think platforms slot in well. Instead, the developer world is so focused on consumer tech that the idea of a complex decision tree of events, workflows, etc. always seems foggy and foreign.

Thus, I think many “enterprise” platforms get a frustrating reception in the wilds of the web. If you remember the old Crossing the Chasm advice, the first thing you need to 5-10 good reference customers who can explain to their peers what the problem is and how it gets solved. Early on, selling the technology for the technology sake is difficult. This is also why so many “platforms” seemingly start as open source: they build up momentum and “reference customers” by giving themselves away for free for awhile.

Fun & IRL

…storytelling. Like it or not, that’s exactly what branded content is about: telling great stories about a company in a more intelligent way instead of simply extolling a product’s merits

In the end, journalism is all about access. Beat reporters from a news media will do their best to circumvent the PR fence to get access to sources, while at the same time the PR team will order a bespoke story from its own staff writers.

My big ass report on developer relations and marketing

451 DeveloperRelations cover page

I’ve been working on a large (30 pages in lovely PDF) report on developer relations and marketing, especially, though not exclusively, targeted at people like cloud and service providers who are discovering the need to cater to developers. It’s published now. As with most of my work, I’ve tried to inject a bunch pragmatic, tactical advice alongside just enough macro “trends and drivers” nonsense to make the case for why you should care and then how you should start planning what to do next.

The report is available for 451 clients, but here’s the key findings which summarize the meat-y parts of the report:

  • Developers have played a large part in driving the success of companies like Microsoft and SAP, consumer websites like Facebook, and service providers like Amazon Web Services and DigitalOcean. These companies’ offerings can be traditional ISV software, SaaS,
    infrastructure delivered as a cloud service, or even “Internet of Things” devices.
  • While developers may emote a distaste for traditional marketing,they are actually very responsive to finely tuned developer relations and marketing programs. These programs revolve around understanding how developers fit into the offering’s strategies and plans, creating value propositions that appeal to the needs and desires of various types of developers, and ensuring that you “show up” to relevant developer communities.
  • There are many developer communities, both on the Web and in real life; most of them will be third-party sites that are not under your control. However, as developer relations programs grow, gaining more budget and resources, building your own developer community may be beneficial.
  • One of the strongest clusters of developer value propositions centers on speed and increasing productivity: getting software to production faster, ensuring very low barriers to entry to try out new technologies, and otherwise simply moving faster.
  • “Content” (text, video, audio, documentation, and even source code) is one of the primary mediums for interacting with developers, and, depending on the type of content, it has many different applications in developer relations programs.
  • There are many topics for content, but some of the more popular ones are educational materials about using your offering; “war stories” about how you solved a difficult problem; the story of how you made something (aka “sausage making”); commenting on industry trends and how your offering fits in; and case studies on how developers have used your offering. Documentation and source code are key types of content for developer relations programs.
  • Documentation is a particularly important type of content – both “manuals” and narrations or tutorials that are in a more natural voice. With rare exception, every developer relations program should look at documentation as a core type of content. Source code and the social networks associated with sites like GitHub are also an important type of content that most developer relations programs should have.
  • Conferences continue to be an effective engagement point for developer relations communities. They can range from large, vendor-centric events to small “unconferences.” Companies have reported to us that both types can be highly successful, depending on the tactics and conference.

You can always sign up for a trial to take being a client out for a spin.

Thanks!

Thanks to all the people who helped with it, esp. Claire Hunsaker and Barton George who were extremely generous with their time and suggestions, and of course my 451 colleagues who gave much input. The organizers of DevOpsDays Austin and SAP’s developer relations program staff we also very generous with their time and comments for the related case studies.

And, of course, I’m thankful for all that time I was lucky enough to spend at RedMonk pacing through the mechanics of getting non-developers to understand us nerds. If you haven’t read the seminal The New King Makers, go read that or much of this fancy PDF of mine will seem odd.

My big ass report on developer relations and marketing

I grew up in Silicon Valley and have spent my entire career in tech. Despite these facts, I’m a humanist by nature and a marketer by vocation.

Rebecca Greenfield, writing for Fast Company, traces the return of the internet newsletter to the death of Google Reader. A representative from TinyLetter told her that there was an uptick in users just as Google pulled the plug last year. Some of us switched to other RSS readers, nevertheless a number of bloggers saw their community and traffic take a hit, and posted less as a result.

We subscribe to newsletters because we like someone and take interest in their unique points-of-view. Unless I am mistaken, hate-subscribing isn’t actually a thing.

Tiny Letters to the Web We Miss

As pointed to in the last part of the quote, part of the allure of email newsletters is more perfectly “capturing” (I don’t know what more concise word to use) your audience and directly knowing who they are. There’s much value in that for people who are trying to establish their independence by building up a “captured” audience – that’s what, for example, Scoble’s value is: he’s a “channel” of “eyeballs” that follow him around. That may all sound creepy – feel free to use the word “conversation” if you want to be all Cluetrain – it’s all synonyms to me.

Also, this is another case of the cobbler’s kids wearing no shoes for me.

The two cloud buyers

This anecdote sums up an annoying problem on cloud marketing (and product management):

At the break I chatted with a somewhat bemused attendee who had come in the hope of learning about whether he should migrate some or all of his small company’s server requirements to Azure. I explained about Office 365 and Azure Active Directory which he said was more relevant to him than the intricacies of software development. It turns out that the Azure User Group is really about software development using Azure services, which is only one perspective on Microsoft’s cloud platform.

There are (at least!) two differer buyers for “cloud” now-a-days: the operations and admin staff who keep raw infrastructure an (packaged) applications up an running, the developer who wants to write new code and run deploy it to cloud services to run (or use those cloud services as middleware). Make sure you know which one you are – or which one you’re pitching to!

Of course, there’s “DevOps,” which seeks to conflate the two of them together, which makes it, I guess, a more efficient marketing construct.

And then there’s another group: actual end-users who just want services without all the Morlockian “infrastructure” crap. SaaS!

Once “cloud” and “IT” become synonymous, nailing all these and other fiddly segments is even more important.

The two cloud buyers

The problem is not that the various visionaries have their own jargon or even that they talk in acronyms. The problems begin when they come down from the mountain and forget to translate that jargon into common language. The point is not to sound smart to people who don’t understand the concept, but to communicate that concept.