DevEducate: The Art of Teaching Developers at Scale

In the inaugural episode of the DevEducate podcast, I invited Todd Gardner (co-founder of TrackJS) to come on the show and talk about how he approached marketing and educating developers to grow his two developer tooling SaaS products.

Show Notes

Talking Points
  • How Todd used a local-first approach to grow TrackJS
  • How to think about developer marketing as educational content
  • Why it’s easier to sell to your friends
  • How speaking positions you as an expert
  • How the marketing personas can differ between similar products
  • How humor and storytelling engage an audience
  • Why targeting “developers” is too general
Lightly edited for context
“Build an audience and turn them into your friends because selling to your friends is easier.” – Todd

“I started with people who I’d take out to lunch with or go get a beer with to understand their problems. It turned out to be a fantastic way of building a dedicated and engaged community here locally where I could get really good feedback… and it’s lasted up to this day.” – Todd

“I would take a flask with me and I would take a couple of shots of whiskey 15 minutes before I was going to go on stage because my nerves were on edge. I totally understand how terrifying [speaking] is.” – Todd

“With whatever you’re going to do… whether it be your consulting, being a freelancer, looking for your next job, or your building a product of some kind–at some point you’re going to need to sell it.” – Todd

“It’s too late to build the audience and try to sell at the same time. You need to have credibility first and then sell second.” – Todd

“Out of all the people I’ve worked with and talked to, developers are the most suspicious of sales. It’s not that they don’t even like being sold to, they actively dislike salespeople.” – Todd

“This is the tiptoeing that we need to do in order to be effective at selling software to developers, we do this ‘educational content marketing.’” – Todd

Developer relations is really about helping developers get better at what they do and if you help them understand how your product helps them make their jobs faster or easier or more effectively then you’re getting the same benefit without seeming salesy.” – Kamran

You can build it but people may not come – especially if they don’t know about it and even if they do, it might not be what they’re looking for.” – Kamran

You have to tell a story and you gotta inject humor. I think both those things are really, really important in putting together a talk of any kind.” – Todd

“[Storytelling] is not something I started out doing and then over time I learned that crafting a narrative just made my talks so much better.” – Kamran

The world of software developers is not one thing. There are so many smaller groups within that and I think it’s really important to know who you are talking to more precisely than ‘developers.’” – Todd

Creators & Guests

Kamran Ayub
DevEd Consultant, Speaker, and Pluralsight author helping OSS dev tool founders accelerate developer adoption without continously creating content
Todd H. Gardner
Co-Founder of TrackJS and RequestMetrics

What is DevEducate: The Art of Teaching Developers at Scale?

Discover how to engage and market to developers without being sales-y through developer education. Listen to interviews with experts and leaders in the DevRel space so you can uncover the strategies and tactics that will help you blow away barriers to developer adoption.