Tech marketing sometimes feels like a clash between marketers and engineers. There is often a disconnect between tech marketers’ expectations and the expectations of the engineers and experts needed to generate content.
Marketers, especially those new to the developer tool space, can sometimes bring the wrong mindset to their roles. They are more focused on getting the content out quickly and not necessarily valuing the accuracy of it.
Marketers also don’t have great relationships with engineers—the ones tasked with creating content. They see them as individuals with poor communication skills, who only know how to code, and who are difficult to work with. But this perception is totally wrong, and can lead to poor content development.
Let me share with you 5 common pitfalls that marketers fall into with tech experts and some guidelines on how to try to fix this relationship and build trust. At the end of the day, the point of the work is to serve their mutual interest, get the audience to love the brand, and generate the company’s desired business results, all while serving both the marketer and the tech expert.
Pitfall 1: Perceiving the Expert As “Inflexible”
Look at any job posting for an engineering role, and rarely will you see “writes blog posts” on the list of duties. While you can argue that working with marketing should absolutely be a part of an engineer’s job, many of them don’t see it that way. To them, they are doing marketing a favor, writing something whenever they have the time. This means that they can be slow to respond to emails and don’t respond well to aggressive or unrealistic (to them) editorial deadlines.
Drafting a developer-focused blog post involves more than just writing about whatever happens to be interesting at the moment. For example, if you asked an engineer to write a product comparison post, there is no way that they could do that in a few hours. With these types of projects, it can take a good few weeks or even a few months to build the environment, run the research, and analyze the data.
So what should you do? Plan ahead and involve engineers in your content plan. Even if you don’t agree with the idea of an engineer “doing you a favor,” treat them that way and understand the time it will take for them to research and then draft a blog.
Pitfall 2: Not Understanding the Audience
Marketers who insist on using B2C SEO theory to dictate how a technical blog should be written are behaving irresponsibly. A knowledge of SEO tools and theory is an expected component of every marketer’s skillset. And when it comes to B2C marketing or even top-level B2B marketing, you should absolutely draw on this methodology for content creation. However, the developer is not the B2C or enterprise audience and you can’t present content to them that way. Think of the developer audience as a subcategory of B2B: B2D.
Learn About the Developer Audience
In order to speak to a developer audience, you need to understand the essence of a technical article. How do you do this? One way is by reading and studying the types of technical blog posts that your competitors write. Are they educational? Insightful? Would developers at your company be interested in reading them?
Another option—and one that I would argue is more important—is again to ask the engineering team to do you some more “favors.” This time I mean dedicating time to build one-on-one relationships with technical team members to learn more about content that they read in order to emulate it.
Pitfall 3: Not Supporting the Writer
You may be working with a freelancer, an agency, or even a writer on staff to draft and/or finish the content started by an engineer. How are you supporting this writer? Just handing them a poorly written brief and sending them on their way? Telling them to contact the engineer if they have any questions?
This is not tech marketing. This is obstruction and leads to a situation where the expert is frustrated with the writer, and the writer has no idea what to do.
Be a Leader
The content writer should not be the lead on a marketing project. Do not delegate. Take responsibility and lead. This includes:
- Consulting with experts: What are the main points they want to make? What are their expectations?
- Creating a brief: Make sure that the expert agrees with it and the writer understands it.
- Prioritize outlines: Build a very detailed process, as the outline will lay the groundwork for the draft.
Pitfall 4: The Need to “Just Get It Done and Ready for Publishing”
Marketers and engineers often butt heads on accuracy versus what is “good enough” for the target audience. The marketer just wants to complete the project, while the engineer wants every possible detail included. Because their name is ultimately going to be attached to this piece, they want to make sure that everything is accurate and every possible edge case in a situation is discussed.
Compromise on Edge Cases
The marketer must be able to explain the notion of compromise on discussing edge cases to the expert. This involves being fully transparent to the reader and acknowledging that “I didn’t check what happens in every possible situation because for the matter of the content, I just want to show you the methodology.”
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Pitfall 5: Not Understanding the Technology
Unfortunately, some marketing hires come to an organization not really understanding the product or how to speak about it to the developer audience. This lack of understanding may feed into the need to rely on B2C marketing principles that aren’t appropriate for the developer audience.
Bridge the Knowledge Gap
If you don’t know how to do a tech discussion and work with a tech team, take a step back and figure out how you build this trust and how you build this relationship. Here are some suggestions:
- Turn favors into responsibilities. Ask management to allocate some of the engineers’ R&D time to working as official contributors on the company blog. In addition, push for the creation of a developer advocate role–many startups have seen success with this kind of hybrid position.
- Understand the product roadmap.
- Engage tech stakeholders, time, and priorities in detail.
- Be on the engineer’s side, and understand the pressure and time constraints they may be experiencing in their role.
Develop Successful Tech Marketing Content
As you can see, marketing to the developer audience is not that simple. I have provided some suggestions, but know that this is something that takes time and can’t all be done in house.
Let’s put an end to asking for favors, and consider outsourcing this work to experienced tech experts and writers.
Are you a startup or established firm looking to bridge the gap between marketing and tech experts? Contact us to learn more.