The biggest untapped resource for developer marketing

As a content lead or product marketer at a dev tool company, it's time to start making alliances with those who work on documentation. Why?

To do their jobs well, the folks have to:

  • Be deeply empathetic with your ideal developer's point of view, problem space, and processes
  • Understand your industry, product, and ideal personas (which is often both developers/engineers and the CTOs who lead them) to target documentation most effectively
  • Create meaningful tutorials, how-to guides, and explanatory guides that deliver on your organization's promised value props

These qualities are a recipe for effective, engaging developer marketing content, but remember: Documentation is strictly informational, and assumes the reader is also a current user or customer.

Repurposing documentation isn't the same as converting an existing blog post into a LinkedIn carousel or a white paper into a conference talk. Social media posts that point straight to documentation are contextless and valuable to only a tiny sliver of your audience. Wrapping a product how-to in a thin introduction and a hard-sell concluding CTA does nothing but scrape the bottom of the SEO barrel.

In your effort to deliver valuable content to a developer audience that consists mainly of those who are not current users/customers, you need a different perspective on repurposing.

First, you're much more likely to expand what you find in the documentation—not just with more up-front messaging and strong pitches based on your value props, but rather personas, use cases, and outcomes that are beyond the strictly informational and in-product scope of documentation. Here are some ideas that have worked for my developer marketing clients:

  • Before: A how-to guide for performing a specific task within the product, like configuring an integration with another tool.
    After: A use case-driven blog post that details what your ideal developer can accomplish or the painful problem solved after they've enabled the integration with X.
  • Before: An explanation of your product's unique approach to a complex issue, like GitOps.
    After: SEO-driven pillar content for your website, enriched with more keywords, copywriting, and editorializing about why your approach is more useful than others.
  • Before: A reference documentation for an API.
    After: Social media posts—videos/GIFs are a goldmine here—to showcase how easily a developer can implement your API and get on with their life.
  • Before: An in-depth tutorial educating the reader on both the product and a larger skill, methodology, or process.
    After: A customer case study that parallels the tutorial's lessons and demonstrates the business value of having followed through.

Second, you need to engage your documentation peers for the context, product intuition, and developer empathy that will elevate your entire developer marketing calendar. This is where your alliances come into play. When they've seen first-hand how you value their work and respect the double-brick wall that exists between documentation and marketing, they'll happily offer up their expertise. They might even agree to review the content you've come up with.

Your takeaway here isn't to jump into repurposing—it's to take just one meaningful step to build this invaluable alliance.

  1. Get on GitHub, subscribe to the repository your peers work in, and follow along with their latest changes. Awareness goes a long way.
  2. Find opportunities to contribute meaningfully (as in more than tweaking product messaging) to the documentation. Don't just ping them on Slack with your suggested changes—take the initiative to make the changes yourself, even if that means editing Markdown, making a commit with Git, and creating a pull request.
  3. Celebrate their work internally! Docs folks rarely get the credit they deserve, and making their work less thankless goes a long way.

Once you've opened the tap, your developer marketing strategy is held back only by how quickly you can execute.