Marketing at Developer Conferences

Insights from Heroku's Head of Developer Marketing

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We love geeks. Let’s start right there. Developers, Startups, Techies and all the geeks in between. We’re geeks ourselves (we have the name to prove it). But, let’s be honest, marketing to geeks requires a little extra savvy.

Luckily we had the opportunity to chat with Natalie Malloy from Heroku this week and hear some of her insights on how to reach and connect with the truest of geeks: developers and technical audiences.

Heroku is a platform to build, manage, and deploy great apps. Developers, teams, and businesses of all sizes use Heroku in different ways. The platform’s flexibility helps them deliver unique apps in a way that supports their own requirements and development practices.

Natalie leads the Developer Marketing Team at Heroku, a Salesforce company, and is responsible for the strategy and execution of hundreds of events geared toward developers and technical audiences. While she is not a developer herself, she’s learned that engaging developers with her event portfolio requires a very different approach than most traditional marketing.


 

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Developers love events... but hate a sales pitch.

Most people understandably cringe at the idea of speaking with pushy sales reps, but developers in particular have a sixth sense for sniffing out a hard sell.

Developers have a tendency to be skeptical by training. They think about security and efficiency constantly. It’s their job to make systems more efficient and protect against intruders who try to spoof their way in. Developers are tuned against processes (and, yes, people) who aren’t authentic or might waste their time.

At Heroku’s events, Natalie says, “We’re not really trying to sell anything.”

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Natalie believes that having deep technical conversations with developers about their current projects is the best way to connect with them. Developers genuinely appreciate technical discussions with informed Heroku representatives, even if those reps have the word "sales" in their title.

Of course, you’ll find many more evangelists at Heroku than sales reps, but everyone’s focus is on having great technical conversations.

 

At Heroku, events are a 2-way conversation.

Another great tip Natalie shared with us regarding engaging with potential customers was the idea of a 2-way conversation. Often times marketers see events as a way to tell people about their product or company. The whole point of sponsoring an event is to raise awareness, right?

Well, not always.  At their events, Heroku throws the conventional sponsor and exhibitor playbook out the window.  Instead, Heroku’s marketing team tries to create meaningful 2-way conversations with developers, whether or not they are current or potential customers.  

By creating 2-way conversations, Heroku gets to ask developers questions and discover what  they’re working on and the current  challenges they face. Given the speed at which the developer tools marketplace evolves, events aren’t just a way for Heroku to create long-term relationships and community that lead to sales and revenue. They enable Heroku to gather feedback and insight right now.


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Learn how to spark great conversations with attendees in this free tipsheet from Heroku's Head of Developer Marketing.


 

How does Heroku use EventGeek?

Natalie and her team have been using EventGeek to manage and execute their event marketing strategy.

One of her favorite features is the ability to collaborate across all teams ensuring everyone has the most updated information on things like scheduling, shipping deliveries, travel itineraries and the budget. Using EventGeek gives everyone access to the same information at their fingertips.

They say it takes one to know one. If you want to reach developers then don’t be afraid to geek out yourself! Send your team to attend and speak at conference sessions, ask lots of questions at your booth, engage attendees and online audiences on Twitter (remember to use event hashtags) and create meaningful conversations by training your team on relevant topics.

You can manage all of that and more on EventGeek, but the most important thing, according to Heroku, is to  position your approach to developer events  for authentic conversations. Your team will win immediate insights, build long-term community and, maybe most importantly, help create a memorable event.