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The four pillars of developer marketing with Kuba Czakon Episode 10

The four pillars of developer marketing with Kuba Czakon

Kuba Czakon is the CMO of Neptune.ai, a Metadata store for MLOps, built for research and production teams that run a lot of experiments. Kuba is also the author and creator of https://www.developermarkepear.com/.

· 15:16


Jack: Hi, this is Jack and you're listening to scaling dev tools. The show that investigates how dev tools go from zero to one. Today's guest is Kuba, the CMO of Neptune.ai a metadata store for MLOps. Kuba was previously a data scientist and a professional chess player. I think this is the first professional chess player we've had on. Kuba also runs a ton of stuff in the community of developer marketing, including an amazing developer marketing Slack channel that I'm a part of and Developermarkepear, a amazing blog on developer marketing. Kuba it's great for you to, uh, join us today.

Kuba: Hey, I'm glad to be


Jack: kuba, you've written an ultimate guide to developer marketing. How should we be doing developer marketing?

Kuba: Yeah. So I think, I think there are a few core principles. And just so you know, [00:01:00] there are, many things that I'm, I'm, I'm still learning and tweaking, but some things seem to be pretty clear. If there's anything I learned from, marketing to devs, it is, do not persuade to try not to persuade your devs, I mean they don't trust you.

They don't believe that they can be persuaded by you. You're actually losing, losing ground when you try to do that, the better way to do it is to try to educate them, uh, enable them to do what they wanna do and inspire them to build. At the end of the day, devs, our builders. They're building stuff and when they're looking for tools, they want to get those tools to build better, to build quicker, to, you know, to build what was just ruined maybe in their code or something. So, they're about building things, building solutions, and that's what you do, pretty much all day.

So the first thing don't persuade. Educate, enable and inspire. And there are many things that come from that we can, we can dive deeper, but that will be the first sort of core principle. So the second thing to think about is, um, and it's actually just good marketing it's to understand who are your developers and where they are. Right. So, seems simple, but people sometimes bucket [00:02:00] devs and into sort of like put them in one bucket and, and think that, yeah, like those are developers, but if you think about it, you know, like in our case machine learning engineer, data scientist, it's a completely different developer sort of. Persona than, a, uh, maybe more senior Java developer at some, German enterprise. Like it's, it's completely different. So, you know, those folks will be in different places. They will need different language, different things, and the ways to get to them, to present your solution, to talk about the problems that, that are, in their space or , that you can help them do. It'll be completely different, completely different. So, again, it's just good marketing, but I think it's important to say that, understanding your developer persona, , and, and going into the places where they are. Is super crucial, right? So, obviously people saying, you know, good channels for devs are, Twitter or maybe Reddit or, you know, devs, don't like, ads or something like it is, you know , it's generally true. But if you think about your particular persona, where they are, maybe where they are in their journey, It may be valuable to them, or it may not be.

So, you know, thinking about this, maybe older, a bit [00:03:00] of older Java, uh, Java developer maybe has, you know, two kids, two kids and, and not a lot of time to, and maybe, you know, not a lot of, interest into, you know, spending their, his time on Reddit. Going to Reddit to try and talk to this persona, maybe, something that, that you cannot do, right.

And, you can talk to them, but, it's not a way to do it. And actually, you know, it could be interesting and it could work. Uh, if you understand that maybe, you know, you should be going for, uh, someone from their circle. Maybe the work circle, maybe somebody who, , they're working with maybe more junior person who, you know, who isn't all looks from communities who really wants to learn everything.

There is about Java and new frameworks and everything, and they will actually present your solution to that more senior person, in their team. It's just understanding those, journeys. I think a lot. So being where, they are not where you want to be, I think, uh, really important. The, the third thing is, very specific to devs, I think what is interesting is that as dev are, are building, things all day, and then they're in front of their computer, trying to solve problems that I actually have right [00:04:00] now. You know, they're looking for solutions that are problems all day. So if you can be there. in, in those, flows of, of them looking for their solutions. That's great. because they are actually doing it. And you know, it's not, , if you connect, if, if you think about your, you know, job as a marketer or, or in other, you know, niches, it's not that you're Googling solutions to problems all day. not exactly what you're doing. Maybe the, the problems are a bit different. Maybe sometimes you Google, obviously everyone Googles, but like, with devs that that will be that, that is really happening a lot. Right. Cause you know, this is, this is part of your job. And then, then something, uh, sort of maybe external push that is very, interesting in dev community people want to, up skill, you know, they, they, uh, they want to up skill. They wanna learn new things and there are. You know, sort of two, two reasons for that one, you know, as a builder, and as a person who loves their craft, You want to be better at your craft.

So that could be a motivation for some group. For some other it's, it's, it's a bit more, down to earth, if you're just thinking about job market and you're just thinking about your next [00:05:00] position. Right. And you're thinking, you know, what should I know to, you know, to maybe land a better job or, just have a, good situation on a job market and you, and you're looking at those, those, uh, different technologies.

So, you. Sort of push to look for those new and different, things, um, that are out there, which maybe is not, you know, not that typical. And that doesn't happen that often, in other, uh, audiences. And then the third thing would be, you know, when, when you actually get those people to your side, you get those people interested in the product and what do you do? Try and let them do their thing. Right. Get out of the way. So, you know, they're builders, as we said, right. So, you know, they wanna. The the easiest way for, for a person to actually have a smell or a feel of building is to try a product. Right? So if you have it, you know, if you have this sandbox environment or something like that, or, you know, or just a free version of your tool that they can try and use, this is what they want.

You know, they don't really want to see a demo from someone. You know, cause this demo could be like the tool may is not actually [00:06:00] working. You know, I just wanna see that it, that it is working. So, let them get to this, get out of the way, let them build. And if, you can do that for, various business reasons, although I don't know how many of those business reasons there are.

If, you think about it, you should let them, you know, have some sort of a smell of building. And, and usually documentation is actually the smell of building or code examples, you know, where they get a smell of, , Hey, this is actually a real product. This is how they solve it.

This is how we actually do it. You know, when, when rubber here's the role, this is how I would code my situation. So, you know, making sure that those examples and documentation is out there is, really important. , so I'd say my core, , four steps, I guess, are pieces to, uh, yeah. To do in-depth marketing

Jack: That's really amazing. So you've outlined your four pillars of developer marketing. Kuba's four pillars of developer marketing. how are you applying these at Neptune?

Kuba: So when you think about it, let's maybe take some things that are super vivid , at, at what we're doing. Right? So one thing I, I mentioned that is, you know, people are actually looking for things right.[00:07:00] I mean, we are super heavy on SEO and blog. We write for our audience, which is machine learning, engineers and data scientists. We're on our way to hit, 2 million unique readers of the blog this year, which is pretty big considering, you know, that we're a startup series, a startup. And there are big names on the market competing for this real estate, if you will, , in Google search.

For a lot of those, things that people are searching for, they will find us, so like we we're actually, touching on this, uh, very heavily. Thinking about those tools, uh, that I mentioned, like people are actually looking for different tools to solve different things. To be educated on what is out there, we actually have those, those list goals of various tools and various categories that are sort of around what we do so that we facilitate that as well. And that's how they, they may find, out about us as well. So, you know, that'll be one thing.

The second thing is we we're, very heavy on creating good documentation. Good examples that you can try without registration event, then having a free tier in the product so that you can actually use it up to a certain limit. You use it and when you hit, a limit or, or you want to work on a team, then, [00:08:00] you upgrade or, uh, but, but otherwise you can just like, you know, do your thing, build, you know, what do you wanna build?

And in our case, it's a more of a, record keeping, if you will, uh, you know, and a tool that helps in, in iterating over, the models that you're building. But either way, I think that, the, ideas are the same, you know, in, a way where, you know, you can get into this and see that, Hey, This could be the thing I need.

And you can actually try it. and you can see those examples. You can see the docs, you can see the sandboxes and, public projects or everything. So we, where you try to be heavy on that so that you have, almost zero investment, if you will, from yourself even not even email. If you wanna just try out, the basic quick SEARCHs or something. So I'd say that that's, that's important. And then when when you think about, the, sort of maybe the persuasion part, just showing the options, you know, that's, I remember this one dev, couple months back, he said something. Show me the options and let me, let me choose, you know, and it feels like really devvy and, and that's when you think about it, like common rule would be, Hey, just have one CTA everywhere.

I don't believe that's, [00:09:00] that's the best approach with devs, like with a lot of devs I think it's very navigational and like, Show me the options. Let me choose. I'll I'll find my way, like I have a problem right now. I I'll find my way. If I wanna learn something, I'll find my way, it's not about you telling me that this is the one thing I should do right now. I'm not, convinced that, that in, especially with, individual contributor, devs, this approach is, valuable.

Jack: That's a very hot take. So forget about picking your CTA, have many potentially.

Kuba: I stand by it, I mean, if you think about, it's sort of like a decision tree as well, you sort of wanna understand like, Hey, do you wanna do this, do that at this point of the page, you know, you already don't have people who wanted to try right away.

So what they wanna do, maybe you wanna see particular set of features, you know, and great examples of, teams that do it really well. Uh, if you go through their, websites is, you know, for example, tailwind tail CSS is just, , I think it's just like an amazing example of how you build a homepage for dev. Yeah, and if you see, you know, the amount of, , different buttons and different [00:10:00] information that is there, it just, it is huge. And, you know, and, and, uh, but, but I think it really, really touches on, what the devs need and want.

And they have an incredible rep within the community right now.

And, and rightfully so, there are other, other pages that are absolutely great. I really love Algolia. Algolia is awesome. There are, many, many, many good examples, but, um, it's not, you know, it's not a one button, you know, it's definitely not in, in most cases.

Jack: Kuba, i, can't not ask you a little bit about your SEO strategy now that you're hitting 2 million. Visitors, on Neptune, how are you thinking about SEO?

Kuba: Yeah. so, Hey, I'm not gonna, you know, give you , all the, all the secrets, uh, if you will, but you know, at the end of the day, I dunno if there are that many secrets, so the way I think about is like you start thinking with, With those, with the awareness funnel and understanding.

So for us, we don't know, we have unaware, problem where, then there is solution where product, where most aware, different phone groups and, you know, the most aware [00:11:00] search query would be something like, Neptune and pricing. That'll be the most, most aware, somebody is just checking the price maybe once in a while.

Cause he's looking for, you know, some discounts or maybe changes in pricing or something then, the, product award would be, you know, that person understands all the, all the features and everything. What do you do then the solution where it would be, what are the tools in the, in the, space and problem where, what are the problems that those tools, can solve and they're solving?

And then unaware is, that I have a problem or that, you know, that there is, that the problem has a name, you know, and things like that. So what I think is, is, best is, is to sort. Go down from most aware , and just think about what are the things that your people are searching and, and start filling it from the. And over time, get the space, basically, you know, so like there are obviously, there are a lot technical stuff with linking things and, creating those articles that, so, , that they're nicely searchable and, have all, all the good H twos, H threes and things like that.

But like, overall, I think that the strategy is to just have a strategy. You know, it's not, it's not about posting, you know, [00:12:00] everything, but understand what are the keywords you actually want? what are keywords connected to it, to it? How can I run for them? So, yeah, I, I I'd say that's, uh, that's that, and I think, you know, ideally, and some teams manage to do it, like, you know, Stripe and Algolia is where you actually, get the search to the docks directly. That's just a holy grail. So like somebody's looking for, payment solution for Python or something, and you end up on a integration page for, I dunno, a Python API for Stripe. Page, it can get better than that, but we're not there yet, maybe someday. I think, you know, that'll be absolutely ideal, right? In order to do that, the market needs to be a certain maturity, you know, et cetera, I think in terms of like the amount of people searching for those things.

I think that would be, the ideal stage.

Jack: The last question I have for you Kuba is how are you thinking about allocating your resources now that you are the CMO of Neptune?

Kuba: It's a good question. So like, I think about allocating [00:13:00] resources as if there were, , bets as if that was my, you know, sort of investment portfolio and, and I have bets that I'm making. So you have your sort of core part of the portfolio, maybe a bit less risk, uh, you know, less risky. The potential return is what you're gonna get from it. Then there are, more risky bets, so you allocate maybe less resources, but, you kind of hope that it's going to hit, gold and then, Actually when you're testing those, those new channels, you try to put as little resources as possible to get to an MVP of a channel if you will.

Right. So there is this great book from Weinberg traction that talks about this bullseye framework that does that where, you know, you divided between experimentation and optimization and there an experimentation, you trust try to test out where it is, could be, you know, working and then in optimization, you're actually, optimizing, , a particular, channel and. Something that I, , that I wanna add to that is that I try to almost think about. Even go further with this, investment, um, analogy, if you will, is we have this culture of extreme ownership. I mean, it's certain tweaks to [00:14:00] it, I guess, uh, to, to the original, uh, on our team. I really like to think about all, all the folks working on those projects and programs, and, and, and experiments in, on on my team as, as CEOs of those. Channels or CEO of the program CEOs. So like people are actually thinking that, you know, this is a small, business that they're running and and there is an investment coming from, you know, from an, investor who is, thinking about where to invest their, resources.

It's an them to figure out how to, how to do it. And as an investor, I, everyone help. Cause you know, my money is in this. I, you know, ultimately I cannot run it, run it for anyone, right? Like , they have to do it themselves. So I, I really like this, you know, CEO analogy there.

Jack: That's really, really cool. Okay. So that's all we have time for today, but Kuba, thank you so much for joining. If people want to learn a bit more about you or what you're working on, where can they find more?

Kuba: Yeah. So, uh, you can find me on LinkedIn at, at the AUP taco. You can find my blog@developermarketer.com, and also it'd be awesome if you join [00:15:00] our, marketing to dev community where, we're talking about , this stuff on, , on slack. And I really, really try to be very active there.

Jack: confirm it's a great community. everyone for listening. We'll see you next time.

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