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Time for geeks to rule the roost

3 min read - by Jon Busby - CTO

Our previous titans of industry Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, previously idolized by the masses for their genius of product design have been replaced by a new breed of CEO and superstar.

This new breed of Silicon Valley superstar isn’t associated with flashy presentations or sexy sleek product design. They’re more concerned with microprocessor design, predictive mathematical models, and programming interfaces. Focus has changed from driving consumer demand to elevating the human race to a higher purpose — through self-driving cars, commercial space flight, satellite internet, and renewable energy.

I’m talking of course about Elon Musk (Tesla), Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), and Marissa Mayer (Google, and Yahoo).

These leaders would not be described as extroverts—many of them coming from deeply technical or analytical backgrounds. Underneath them, we’re beginning to see an army of engineers (both in the “developer” sense and the “mechanical” sense) gaining the spotlight.

If you were lucky enough to catch Tesla’s previous investor “Autonomy Day” (Available here: Tesla Autonomy Day), you’d see the focus is not on car style or speed, but chip design and performance. Car performance is now secondary to silicon performance.

Is this the second golden age for Silicon in Silicon Valley? Is it the time for us geeks to rule to the roost?

Let’s entertain our inner Wozniak for a moment—if engineering is the new sexy (which for me – I hope it is!), what do we need to change in B2B to communicate to this group? How do we need to adapt our thinking as marketers to make sure we’re understood?

Here at Twogether, we’ve been working alongside our clients to develop new programs that communicate to developers and engineers. In this article, we’re going to outline our thinking on how best to communicate with this unique group.

Firstly — and this is the one we all talk about but is the hardest to put into place—remove any “fluff” or “marketing speak” from your message. Be short and to the point. This doesn’t mean you still can’t be creative or clever, or even subtle (some of the best developer marketing programs have been subtle, but more on this later). What we’re saying is be straight and to the point, don’t sell or cautiously sneak around a shortcoming with clever copy. Give them what they need, tell them how you can help them, and how your solution works.

Second—Don’t be afraid of providing detail behind the claims above. Developers often prefer long-form content going deep into how your solution works. Crosslink from your marketing to key resources, datasheets, and developer documentation is another great way to add value to your content (don’t feel you need to make your message longer for the sake of it, or duplicate content. Remember point 1).

Free—I can’t stress this enough—Developers love FREE stuff. Free SWAG, giveaways, trials, and demos, but not just that, free e-books and white papers. If you’re going to ask a developer to sign up and provide their details, make sure it’s providing some value back (otherwise you’ll likely get a lot of lead generation from Disney’s favorite mouse). However, providing a trial or “freemium” version of your product, something they can try out – and you’re much more likely to capture their details.

Finally—developers love to engage and share all kinds of content. Don’t feel that just because they’re engineers that you have to provide everything as a technical document, videos, walkthroughs, even webinars are a great way to demonstrate your project—and most importantly for developers—they’re sharable.

The role of communicating with developers will only become more essential. The tips contained here shouldn’t be considered exhaustive. And just as technologies change, so do the methods and platforms developers will flock to.

The most important way to keep up to date is to continue engaging with your partners and developers to see what tools and platforms they find useful.

[1] IPA and the Financial Times, The Board Brand Rift, June 2019.