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Marketing to developers? These are the challenges on their mind in 2023

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If you’ve spent any time marketing to developers you’ll know a typical marketing approach you might use for traditional B2B or B2C doesn’t cut it. Developers can be tricky to market to. They’re extremely brand loyal and unlikely to switch. They are also heavily influenced by recommendations from the developer community. 

Before we look at what marketing approach does work with developers, we first need to step into the shoes of your developer audience to understand the big challenges they’re facing and how they’re impacted by them.

Skills shortage

At the same time the demand for highly skilled software developers is rising, the number of new developers coming into the market is diminishing. While the IT skills shortage isn’t necessarily a new phenomenon, the growing pace of digital innovation has created an unprecedented demand for development skills. One tech sector crying out for talent is cybersecurity. The number of open cybersecurity jobs worldwide grew 350% between 2013 and 2021, from 1 million to 3.5 million. Businesses of every type, shape and size are now competing to hire skilled developers to help drive digital transformation agendas. Development skills have never been more in demand and there simply aren’t enough skilled candidates to go around.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, American companies will face a 1.2 million shortfall in developers by 2026. And across the pond in the UK, the tech industry is facing its biggest shortages in cybersecurity, big data and analysis, and data architecture.  The Cyber Security Skills In The UK Labour Market 2022 Report cites that 51% of UK businesses are experiencing a cybersecurity skills gap. While there have been recent initiatives to try and address this, like giving school-aged children the opportunity to learn to code, it’s simply not making a dent and the impact is being felt. The skills shortage is placing huge pressure on those in development roles, causing some to leave the industry in search of a better work / life balance – so not only are organisations struggling to recruit, retaining those already in positions is posing a challenge too.

Keeping pace with innovation

The tech industry is constantly evolving and at a rapid pace – from new industry regulations being introduced, like the Developer Code of Practice and The Digital Markets Act (DMA), to new and emerging tech, from AI to VR to machine learning to wearables to the huge rise in mobile apps. 

And while these are positive changes for the industry and make it an exciting environment for developers to be a part of, it’s still a relatively young market that’s finding its feet in terms of best practice. The challenge this rate of change creates for developers is that learning as you go becomes the norm in order to keep up, putting them under pressure to run before they can walk.

With new tools regularly being brought out, it’s up to the developers, as they’re the ones who are tech savvy, to figure out what the tools do and which are the right solutions for them. The tech industry also sees new vendors coming in, so as well as learning about the new tools available, there’s also the task of navigating the different suppliers to take on. 

Culture clash – DevOps vs Security

The speed vs security conflict between developers and security is a challenge that’s been around for an age. Security has long been thought of as the team that creates barriers that prevent developers from getting more done, in less time. While the cyber security threats are very real, when things go wrong fingers can start pointing. And casting blame does nothing to encourage a culture of collaboration, rather than conflict.

The introduction of DevSecOps aims to ease the tension between DevOps teams who want to release software quickly, and security teams who prioritise security over release deadlines. 

But the reality in some organisations is still very fragmented – with the development team building the software first, before bringing in security to run checks before it’s released, rather than working together in collaboration from the start. Common headaches that come with this approach include; software going out without the necessary security protocols. Or when the security team identifies issues that need addressing before the software is released, causing a delay – not only is this frustrating for the developer, but it can also have commercial impacts.

High workload

In a recent study by Haystack Analytics, it was found that 83% of software developers feel burnout from work. Developers are under pressure to meet aggressive deadlines, support multiple platforms, keep up with new regulations and technology coming out, and learn about more security practices they need to meet – it’s no wonder they’re experiencing this level of overwhelm.

This is where low-code platforms come in. Low-code can take the pressure off developers by enabling them to develop applications faster by streamlining and simplifying the process end to end. By offloading some of the most time-consuming tasks to the low-code platform, it allows developers to achieve more with far less stress.

Business to Developer (B2D) Marketing 

So, now we understand a bit more about the challenges developers face, what does an effective B2D marketing approach look like? 

Developers are a unique audience. Marketing to developers needs a different approach to the typical B2B or B2C where persuasion is the focus. Developers want to be educated, enabled, and inspired. Developers don’t want to be persuaded. 

Developers tend to be quite skeptical of marketing, so being honest with them is vital. If you try and oversell or attempt anything that’s the least bit shady, not only will they see right through, they’ll most likely call you out on it! The developer community is super engaged. And they’re quick to share their views and experiences with peers.

Your marketing needs to be clear and direct. Get to the point when communicating with developers. While of course you want to leave a good impression with them, fluffy marketing will quickly turn developers off.

While developers are more interested in how products work compared to a non-techie audience, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that they’re still trying to find a solution. Even if your ideal customer is technical, they’re still looking for a way to solve the problem they have. As the old adage goes; features tell, benefits sell. And this absolutely still applies to developers. 

Want help connecting with your audiences and driving them to action? As leading B2B demand generation experts, we help make technology and telco brands unmissable. Get in touch with one of our marketing experts today.

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