Developers! Developers! Developers! That was the chant of a slightly crazed Steve Ballmer at a Microsoft Windows developers conference back in 2000.
Ballmer was obviously keen to play up the importance of developers, but are they a neglected audience by vendors?
Are developers a neglected audience?
Say the word developer and what do you see?
In fact type software ‘developers’ into a search engine and look at the images that are brought up. People in front of screens with code floating around them? Fairly standard viewing.
As of 2018 there were over 300,000 software developers in the UK alone. That’s a pretty impressive number - and that’s just developers. Then throw in development directors / managers, architects, IT Managers, IT Directors and the CTO’s and you have a pretty complex Technical Audience.
It’s an audience that some years ago vendors would target heavily, but more and more seem to be failing to engage with.
What has changed?
The reality is that marketers have become obsessed with the shiny CTO and how we must influence the ultimate decision maker.
The need to reach the top as quickly as possible - created by shorter-term, revenue driven sales & marketing KPIs - has left a huge gap. After all, the technical decision makers are the real end users and by virtue of that – the real influencers.
They are a vital part of the decision making circle and a lot of vendors are neglecting them.
This audience want to talk!
The reality is that the Technical Audience, whether it’s developers, architects, specialists or managers, is formed of a wide variety of personas and job roles.
When we work with clients on their understanding of this audience we ask;
- Do you know what role each function plays?
- Do you know how they like to engage?
- Do you know how they consume their content? If you do – well done. You’re probably ahead of the curve.
But the answer is more likely to be probably not.
Let’s face it, the vendors or end users themselves don’t all go full on Steve Balmer about this audience do they?
I am not saying we should all get up and start chanting “Developers, Developers, Developers” but what I am saying is that he was right – he was right to highlight their value to an organisation and the overall technical audience.
And the best thing about this audience is - they want to talk!
They are passionate about their work, about the technology, about their problems and their challenges. And unlike CIOs and CTOs they aren’t receiving 500 vendor emails every day.
Does this mean you should rewrite your strategy?
Over the last few years, we have run various projects to help some of our clients understand the technical audience more closely and the results have (putting my modesty hat on here) been pretty staggering.
We have helped clients drastically change the way they engage with that audience, creating detailed personas to help them identify and reach out to different functions more effectively. We have helped roll out a new operating system by directly influencing those functions and we have gained understanding for our clients around future deployment and technology adoption plans.
Gain an understanding from these audiences, get them onside and you can really start to build out a more thoughtful and impactful road-map. Long-term it makes financial sense to have this audience on-board from an early stage.
I’ll say it again, this audience want to talk!
It’s amazing what you can learn from having actual conversations with your audience.
It is often overlooked, devalued, pigeon holed, but Telemarketing - or to give it a more PC term, Tele-Outreach - can be really powerful. Picking up the phone and speaking to people and building a relationship seems so obvious but is often neglected by modern marketers (perhaps a reflection of the smartphone society we live in).
For us at Kingpin, Telemarketing isn’t a chicken shed of people with headsets auto-dialing 400 people a day and not listening. For us, Telemarketing when used properly can uncover insights that you can’t get any other way. When used properly it can get you commitments that you wouldn’t get any other way, allowing you to connect with the right audience on their level.
For one particular client, having conversations through Telemarketing is how we managed to speak with 35,000 ISV’s across 18 months, building an understanding of what their plans were around technology adoption, what their challenges were, how they liked to be engaged and what their vendor selection process involved. (Get in touch with me here if you'd like a more detailed case study of this particular campaign).
As I previously mentioned, the majority of the Technical Audience are more than happy to talk. In fact our in-house Telemarketing team have had conversations over an hour long with developers. They’re happy to talk about their work and solutions, so listen to them!
Think beyond the obvious when it comes to the audience. Move the perceptions to one side when it comes to tactics. Have conversations. Get those right and you might well be on a stage soon doing a ‘Steve Ballmer’, sweating profusely and chanting the name of the job functions that have helped you smash your targets.
In fact our in-house Telemarketing team have had conversations over an hour long with developers. They’re happy to talk about their work and solutions, so listen to them!