Early thoughts on marketing from a developer

Early thoughts on marketing from a developer
Photo by Firmbee.com / Unsplash

I am a developer and have built several products in the past. As creatives, we have the power to make incredible things, to solve our own problems and to turn ideas into reality.

A common mistake made by developers building products though is that they never prioritise marketing. It doesn't come naturally to them, they want to build the best product, and they believe that their ideas will win market share on merit alone.

I'm working on changing that for myself. I have recently started learning about marketing, and I've had some eye opening moments so far. Below is a list of some of my thoughts, in no particular order:

  1. People buy your product to solve a problem, not because you have cool features.
  2. A so-so commitment from someone when you tell them about an idea means nothing - it's easy to say "sure get back to me when your product is ready", it's just a kind way to close the topic in most cases.
  3. You need to have a target audience. When your target audience is not well defined, your landing page and marketing is speaking to everyone. Every person might resonate with a part of it, but no one will feel like you're talking just to them, and this will make it hard to actually have paying customers.
  4. If you get in front of the wrong target audience, it's not going to help you and might even hurt you. So really, pick your target audience, don't spray and pray.
  5. A free trial of some kind is crucial. If people can't try your product before paying you money, they will likely not buy at all. A free trial user is already a user, it's a lot easier to try to upsell them on the paid plan than to sell someone on the paid plan who has never used the product.
  6. Get small commitments from users leading up to your purchase popup. When they've already invested some time exploring your product, they are more likely to believe they must like it.
  7. Social proof is important. Have testimonials on your site to tell people that other users are using your product and like it enough to give you a testimonial. No one wants to be the first person to try something new (in most cases).
  8. Handle objections the user might have on your landing page: if generally products in your category take a long time to achieve results, you can tell the user through your messaging that your product will give them results in 30 days vs. 5 months. Make sure you are not lying about this though.
  9. Competitors - it's kind of a pro and a con. Pro because you have validation that there is demand for your idea, con because now you need to compete with them, and they might already be ahead in their feature development.
  10. Remember your product is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Focus on your users end goal and you are a lot more likely to sell them on your product than if you just list out your features.
  11. When trying to validate your idea or gain insights about your product from potential users, don't tell them about your product, ask them about their problem. This will give you more insight and better understanding about the problem you're trying to solve and prevent false validation of your solution, because as per social customs, it's highly unlikely someone will say to your face that your idea sucks.
  12. Think about marketing from day one - this is a big one. If you develop a product without considering the marketing side, maybe you get lucky but probably not and you'll have wasted time and money.
  13. It doesn't matter how good your product is if you can't communicate that to people. Your vision for the future, the big problem you're trying to solve, you really need users to connect with those ideas. You want them to imagine a better future for themselves when they find your product. I've built products in the past that had potential - I know this because similar products were released, the vision was the same, but they were able to communicate it a lot better than I could, and they're all earning between $10K-$10M+ ARR.
  14. Consider CAC in your cost analysis.
  15. JUST LAUNCH - it's a common trope that developers never launch their products and always keep tinkering with features and tech stacks etc., I launched, my launch failed, and now I've finally started giving marketing the attention it deserves, and I never would have if my launch hadn't failed.
  16. Theory < Practice - You can know all the theory about riding a bike, but you will still fall over when you actually try it for the first time. It's the same with marketing, so go on, take a couple falls, get back up, learn and improve by actually doing rather than just learning.

A few books I can recommend so far:

  • Influence
  • The Mom Test