Compared to generalist marketers, technical and product marketers need to adjust their product’s positioning and messaging to appeal to a specific audience with different communication styles and buyer journeys.
Product marketing already requires a deep level of understanding of how your product works. Add that to marketing your product to a technical audience with a detailed understanding of the software and this requirement is ramped up.
Read about the product marketing considerations and best practices that you need to be aware of when you’re selling complex software to a technical audience.
1. Use an Educational Approach to Raise Awareness and Boost Adoption
You are unlikely to drum up support for your product, raise awareness before launch, or appeal to a notoriously critical technical audience if you employ traditional marketing tactics. Telling your audience — or training your sales team to tell them — about your product’s benefits through a static sales demo, cold calls, and marketing brochures won’t work. The numbers back this up.
Instead, engage your audience with an educational marketing initiative that helps them learn about your product. Technical users want to know how your product works and what it does, rather than what the benefits are. Technical users want to decide for themselves whether your product is right for them and meets their needs. With technical users, your aim is not to generate sales, but to lower the friction between them and your product.
To provide this educational product experience, the top five product marketing items you need are:
- Product documentation
- Sample code
- Tutorials and how-to videos
- Training courses
- Software sandboxes
2. Set up a Dedicated Technical Marketing Zone
When you are creating messaging and marketing materials to communicate the product to the market, avoid creating a traditional marketing-focused zone full of jargon and vague benefits. Instead, you need to build a dedicated area that speaks the language of your technical audience and includes content on your product that will be useful for them.
When you position your product, maintain a straightforward tone that is free of fluff and jargon. This will help your content to resonate with your technical audience and increase their trust in your content’s genuine intent to help them along their purchasing journey.
This type of no-nonsense content may clash with your company’s main marketing website, which is why you need to build a space that speaks directly to your technical persona and addresses their specific needs.
Here are some dedicated, technical marketing zones you can get inspiration from:
3. Create Technical-Focused Buyer Personas and Segmentation
Product marketers need to understand the pain points of their audience and communicate that to their internal product team, and creating buyer personas is an important part of that. Traditional product marketers often create buyer personas and segment their audience based on industry, location, job role, main challenges, and objectives.
This differs slightly when you are targeting an audience with a deeper level of technical knowledge. Your technical audience has different needs, and they go to different locations and outlets for information, engagement, and for finding new solutions.
Here are some high-level criteria you can use to understand your technical audience, create technical buyer personas, and segment them so you can target users more accurately:
- Programming language
- Years of software engineering experience and skill level
- Background (for example, self-taught or studied a computer science degree)
- Job role
- Function (for example, web developers versus mobile developers)
Remember to continue to update your personas and segmentation long after your product launches. Two valuable resources are your Solutions Engineers and Developer Evangelists. Speak to them regularly as these conversations can become a reliable source of insight into what they’re seeing on the front line. They have a wealth of knowledge on the use cases that your technical users are doing with your product.
4. Diversify Your Product Marketing Channel Mix
Diverse user experience and backgrounds mean that product marketing channels and tone vary widely. Using marketing channels with the sole purpose of selling your product won’t work. But getting engaged in discussions and providing thought leadership on social media channels such as Reddit and LinkedIn boosts your credibility and establishes your brand identity.
The same applies to email marketing. Don’t try to sell your product. Provide either thought leadership content, articles that go into detail on how to fix a specific problem, or nudge campaigns that remind your technical audience about your product courses and other valuable resources they can use (docs, sample code, sandboxes, etc.). Create courses and documentation that help your technical audience build new skills, rather than solely focusing on marketing and selling your product.
5. Work Towards a Frictionless Sign-up Process
Successful product marketers need to make it as easy as possible for their audience to see the value of your product. So if they spin-up a trial of your product, but there’s too much effort to use it (e.g. needing to import sample data or configuring its settings), they may move on to an alternative product. This issue is known as the blank slate problem.
To engage your technical audience and ensure that they give your product a try, you need to provide a software sandbox that comes pre-populated and pre-configured to ensure that users can quickly experience the power of your products without having to do too much heavy lifting to reach your product’s “A-HA! Moment.”
6. Provide Hands-On Product Experiences
Technical audiences want to learn about your product by trying it out, not by reading about it or watching a video. Providing hands-on software experiences is key, as your audience will often arrive at your product with an understanding of its features and how it works – and they’re just looking for an interactive learning experience that includes a live, hands-on, and frictionless version of your product.
Product-led companies such as Twilio, Stripe, MongoDB, and SendGrid provide developers with easy access to their products. They can test out the product, look under the hood, and use it to complete real-world activities (rather than having to sit through a sales demo).
A hands-on learning experience enables your users to quickly understand how your product helps them and provides validation that the product does what your website says it does. And because it is a sandbox environment, they can manipulate the environment to see how your product performs without having to pre-configure it or populate it with data.
A software sandbox provides a frictionless environment (no installation, pre-configured, and pre-populated with data) that enables users to have a hands-on experience with your product. With these sandboxes, you can create a personalized learning environment that launches instantaneously for your technical users. And since these environments are highly customizable, you can personalize them around each of your technical personas, the type of problem they’re working on, or around a specific product feature you want to highlight.
7. Build an Engaged Product Community
Technical marketers need to create, develop, and nurture a product-focused developer community. If your company takes part in technical conversations (wherever your product’s developers are having them) and adds value as product experts and thought-leaders, you can gain the trust of developers and build a reputation for prioritizing your developers’ needs.
Creating a community around your product is important for two reasons:
- It gives users a place where they can seek help regarding your product
- It ensures business stakeholders that they are adopting a product that won’t just disappear, has a large talent pool from which they can hire, and is built by a mature organization.
There are several ways you can create an engaged community, including scheduling regular events (in-person or virtual); setting up a dedicated portal to promote community discussions, and creating message boards for users to share ideas.
Engaging in existing communities isn’t a one-and-done exercise. Go to websites where developers hang out to figure out what they like or don’t like about your product and competitive products. Revisit which communities you engage in, as this will change over time and can depend on the different programming languages or expertise.