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Developers + Marketing: Reflecting on my First-Year at Heavybit Malia Powers

This month marks my one-year anniversary here at Heavybit.

There are several aspects that contribute to why this past year has been great; the inspiration that comes with working with startups that are improving the way software is built, the talented Heavybit team and founders I work with everyday, and our great location in San Francisco.

In this moment of self reflection, I am particularly grateful for my learnings that are specific to the developer tool space.

Developer tools are unique and with that comes specific challenges and a different way of doing things for marketers. At Heavybit, we focus on helping post-seed developer companies take their product to market. A big part of taking a developer product to market is having a developer marketing strategy in place.

Here are 6 developer marketing tactics that early stage founders can do during the initial stages of starting a company.

Focus Your Attention

Developers tend to stay clear of traditional media outlets and hang out on platforms like Hacker News, Stack Overflow, and Github. If you don’t already, I’d recommend spending time on Hackers News and observing what type of content is upvoted by its community of programmers, developers, and entrepreneurs. When it comes to customer development, Hacker News is one of the best platforms to drive sign-ups for your beta or GA.

In a Heavybit Speaker Series presentation, KISSMetrics cofounder Hiten Shah spoke at length about the power of marketing with Github. He noted that developer companies should be analyzing Github with a number of tools including Github Archive and Google Big Query. He also suggested other ways you could leverage Github including using open source releases to prove user experience and trying Github authorization for onboarding.

Become A Thought Leader

Early on, when your branding is not widely known, founders should spend some time blogging and speaking about industry topics to demonstrate their expertise. To Be Continuous is a podcast about continuous delivery and software development, hosted by Heavybit members Paul Biggar, founder of CircleCI, and Edith Harbaugh, CEO of LaunchDarkly. The podcast continues to generate new business opportunities and increase exposure within the developer community for both Edith and Paul.

Set Up A Newsletter

In order to achieve sustained growth, founders should make every effort to keep existing users, customers and communities connected to their product and company brand. An easy way to do this is by featuring a newsletter sign-up on your homepage. Even if you do not plan on sending monthly updates, just start collecting emails. When the time comes to start sending customers information you now have a base to start from.

Participate In Community Events

User groups and meetups for developers like ReThinkDB, SF Static Web Tech, and API-Craft are filled with opportunities for founders to increase company visibility, find customers, and recruit talent. The relationships you make will be well worth your time. Often times these groups are looking for speakers, so don’t be shy and be sure to ask how you can get involved.

Opsee has seen enormous benefits after speaking at meetups hosted by GoSF, CoreOs, and Amazon. In addition to presenting at other meetups, Opsee, along with Netlify, Mux, and many others, have built a community around their own company by starting their own meetup groups.

Make Customer Service A Priority

Founders should consider customer service as a function of marketing. Your users are more likely to recommend your company after a positive customer service experience. Be sure to respond to customer requests quickly and have an internal process in place.

One lightweight customer service strategy for a lean team is to set up a dedicated support email address and Slack channel. As you begin to answer questions, start to build a help center with prepared answers to common questions.

Keep An Eye Out For Talent

Recruiting starts on day one. For the marketing function, usually around the one year mark is when developer tool companies think about their first marketing hire. By this time, hopefully you have a few candidates and advisors in mind.

Heavybit hosts quarterly networking events focused on sales, marketing, developer evangelism, and DX design. Stay ahead of your recruiting efforts by attending these career focused gatherings. Email our events manager Sam at events@heavybit.com for event invites.

And so I say thanks to the Heavybit community for a phenomenal first year! I am looking forward to the next year, and I am especially excited about our upcoming DevGuild event focused on developer experience design. If you’re a dev company founder or currently designing a developer tool, here’s your chance to meet and learn from some of the best and brightest in our industry. Request an invite today!

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