Trying to advertise to developers is a lot like dating. You want to get into a relationship with them — a customer relationship. Maybe you are responsible for developer marketing or developer relations, and you want to pursue a deep developer relationship for your platform or open source project. You aren’t looking for a one night stand. So why do so many companies ask their customers to go all the way with them in the first ad?

Do you really want to try to win a “hot or not?” thumb swipe war?

Well, that’s what you are doing when you ask your customer to buy after just one ad. It’s even worse if a developer finds that clicking on your call to action sends them to a screen where you ask for all their information, especially a credit card, or a phone number. Most developers are willing to give their name and email address but asking for more than that at first contact will result in far fewer registrations.
These are especially bad moves because:

  • You run the risk of making your first contact the only contact.
  • You learn nothing about your customer via their engagement with your ad and content.

And ultimately:

  • You destroy your relationship before it’s begun.

Instead, woo your customer with old-school dating strategies.

Create advertising that shows you are interested in them (not you). Introduce yourself with a strong value proposition that persuades them to spend more time with you. While you are courting your customer, your asks should be for more dates, not a commitment.

How do you get a second date with your prospect?

It’s not that hard. Don’t just advertise to developers. Offer an experience a developer will value so that they will take you up on your next invitation.
Remember the laws of attraction. Use an eye-catching ad and message to attract your customer to content that focuses on solving the problems they face. Then, follow up with an invitation to experience content or a free trial offer that educates them about how your solution can help them.

Atmosphere is everything.

  • Turn on the mood music for your brand by sponsoring cutting-edge podcast content from industry influencers, like Hanselminutes or Scott Hanselman’s RSS feed.
  • Prove you hang with and support their crowd by advertising in peer-to-peer websites within the developer community (this also offers you brand security and assurance your marketing will be shown to the correct audience and not showing next to negative content)
  • Amp up the fun factor and engagement with a sponsored developer contest.


  • Everyone enjoys a good love letter. Romance your developer with newsletter ads or dedicated eBlasts they have opted into, that send them to whitepapers, case studies, free downloads or demos that show that you “get” them.

What happens if they keep dating you?

If a developer still wants to engage with you, lead your prospect to content that helps them compare solutions and solution providers. Show them the code! Developers want to get hands-on and test things out. Once your developer prospect is standing at your door asking for the next date before you offer, talk to them about your product.

When a developer accepts your product via signing up for a purchase, or whatever signifies that they are committing to a relationship with your company, that’s when you can ask for all the information, such as phone number and credit card information. At this point, requesting a developer’s contact information and other relevant information demonstrates your commitment to their developer experience and your relationship.

When a developer agrees to be yours, show your commitment.

The developer experience is everything. Make sure once they commit to you that they have an outstanding developer experience by ensuring your developer portal or support page has:

  • Clear documentation
  • How-to videos
  • Use cases
  • Easy to find, responsive support

And last, but not least, tell your developers how you will protect their privacy.
Then do it.

Happily ever after…

If you begin your relationship trying to advertise to developers with respect, you have a good shot at a fairytale ending. Your first encounters with developers should attract, not focus on closing a sale. Before asking for lots of information about developers, provide as much information as you can about the problems they face and some possible solutions before you launch into a story about your company and product. Once the customer is pursuing a relationship with you, then you can drop the boom with all your product and company info. After a developer has committed to you by making a purchase, sign-up, or download, then you can ask for what you need to fulfill and support their needs. After that, it is up to your company to create an outstanding developer experience so that you can live happily ever after.