The magic code: understanding the art of business-to-developer (B2D) marketing

Performing magic is hard.

It requires practice, skill and the rare ability to control the attention of a room. Audiences need to buy into the story of the performance. Within this suspension of disbelief lies the illusion of magic.

But what about performing magic to a magician?

In Penn & Teller’s ‘Fool Us’ series, magicians attempt to fool the magic world’s most notorious double act. Prospective magick-eers have to step on stage and successfully cast illusions to a pair who know - and most likely crafted - every trick in the book.

This is what it’s like trying to market to technical decision makers, developers and software engineers. This discerning audience knows when you’re trying to pull the wool over their eyes. They don’t want to be interrupted by ads. And they are too smart to be “tricked” by fluffy marketing jargon.

At Toaster, we’ve worked with tech brands to communicate in ways that appeal to this market. Here are some of the things we’ve learned:

No tricks, no gimmicks

Developers are problem solvers. Their purchase journey begins when they have a new problem to solve - or a new project to tackle.

Convincing them to invest in your product requires their engaged attention. The best way to do this is to quickly and clearly demonstrate how you’re going to make their lives easier.

In this performance, content is your magic wand.

This audience will take the time to read whitepapers and attend webinars. This means that the onus is on you to make sure they are relevant. Speak to their pain points and illustrate solutions. Solve before you sell.

At Toaster, we successfully applied this approach in our work with Google Brand Studio. The team at Google wanted to push the boundaries of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) capabilities - and it approached Toaster to provide an ecommerce template to help achieve this goal.

The aim was to provide inspiration for developers and designers. The project resulted in the creation of LUNE - a showcase website displaying what developers could achieve with AMP by creating a high impact design with modern web design techniques.

Developers won’t believe you saying you can magic away their problems. They want you to show them directly. Describing how you conjure a bird out of thin air is far less interesting than completing the trick in front of their very eyes.

The Magician’s Code - for developers

Developer communities are tight-knit. They respect their peers and are constantly conversing and collaborating with one another, sharing product recommendations and advice both online and at events.

They also like to show off from time to time. Much like members of the Magic Circle. Magicians never reveal their secrets - unless of course it is to another magician.

Tapping into this sense of community is crucial. Google had a challenge of trying to reach and recruit the next generation of software engineers. Our solution? To create bar.foo - a site named after coding terminology - a place where Google engineers could exchange information about their most successful products and services.

The goal was to inspire and engage prospective hires - as well as develop a sense of belonging. And so we made it a test of skill; the only way to access this online destination was to solve a series of secret coding challenges.

Appealing to the engineers’ innate curiosity - using Easter Eggs scattered across Google Search - ensured only the right candidates put themselves forward for consideration. Magic code, or actual code, exclusivity sparks excitement.

What’s the magic word?

Developers don’t believe in abra-cadabra.

This audience values straight talking. Marketing materials need to possess a clear, direct tone. Don’t use a lot of words when a few will suffice - ensure every word serves a purpose.

This is not to say that you can’t elaborate. Use developers’ love of details to your advantage. Long blog posts remain a valuable tool - provided that it is captivating, relevant and useful from start to finish.

Graylog reached out to Toaster to help them craft a brand positioning that would capture the attention of the enterprise market without losing relevance with their open-source audience. . We created tone guardrails, ensuring that their content stayed true to their personality and open-source ethos. It also allowed published materials to remain concise.

This audience has their own language - including terminology they are familiar with is paramount. Fostering a sense of trust with your audience is vital if you are going to effectively market to them.

The stage is yours

The best marketing casts a spell on audiences. But marketing isn’t magic. It’s the product of effective processes and creative brains. And developers know this better than anyone.

Developer marketing needs to be direct and to the point - there is no use in flourishing a magic wand. It is a conversation behind the curtain, not a performance on stage.

To learn more about how Toaster can help your brand with developer marketing, get in touch with the team at [email protected].