During a market downturn, it can be tempting to reduce investment in your DevRel efforts since it does not directly contribute to revenue generation. However, this can be a short-sighted and risky strategy.
Developers are the lifeblood of any tech organisation. Even though you’re not directly selling to developers, they are still your users at the end of the day. Without developers, your prospects won’t be able to use your product even if they wanted to. Moreover, developers are becoming major influencers in purchase decisions, having a say in which product should be used.
The Cost of Ignoring Developer Relations
You lose market share to your competitors. Once your mindshare amongst developers dips, market share will follow suit. Competitors that invest more in their DevRel efforts will start eating away at your market share as they climb to the top-of-mind of developers, influencing many more purchases.
You lose opportunities to acquire new customers and retain existing ones. Developers are often the gatekeepers and influencers for purchasing decisions in their organizations. Irregular engagement with developers erodes your top-of-mind, causing you to miss out on referrals, recommendations, and word-of-mouth marketing.
You lose momentum once the market picks up. Once business gets better, there need to be more skilled developers to support the deployment of your product. But if you neglect to engage with developers now, then there might not be enough developers in the future to fuel the demand. Nurturing a experienced developer pool is something you should start today.
You lose touch with your developer community. Your developer community is an invaluable resource for you to get feedback on your product and have a sense of where you are in the market. Don’t lose touch with this important sense just because there’s a downturn.
Not a Choice – a Necessity
The bottom line: engaging with developers during a market downturn is not a luxury or an option – it is a necessity and an opportunity. Developers are the natural advocates of your product, helping you gain buy-in and market share. Take the opportunity to stand out from the crowd when everyone is cutting back on DevRel spend during the downturn.
In fact, investing during a downturn is a strategic choice to make during a downturn. Here’s a snippet from the Harvard Business Review article: How Companies Should Invest in a Downturn
“A recession is the best time to acquire resources for the forthcoming expansion, all while your competitors are cutting back. The biggest and most important resource — talent — is more readily available now than during an expansionary phase.”
The best time to strike is when everyone is cutting back and fewer companies are competing for the attention of developers. By getting yourself out there now, you will be able to acquire and engage with more developers at a fraction of the cost.
But of course, it is a downturn. A fraction of the cost may still be too high a cost to pay during a downturn. So, how can we work with a low budget?
How to Engage with Developers on a Low-Budget
Even if you’re on tight purse strings, there are still many ways to engage with your developers during a downturn
Provide value-added content and resources that can help developers learn new skills, solve new problems, or achieve new goals. For example, you can offer webinars, tutorials, guides, blogs, podcasts, newsletters, etc.
Provide mini incentives and rewards that can motivate developers to try your products or services, provide feedback or testimonials, or refer or recommend your products or services to others. For example, you can offer discounts, coupons, swag, etc.
Provide support and assistance that can help developers overcome challenges or issues they may encounter when using your products or services. Just because your purse strings are tight is no excuse to stop supporting developers. Don’t leave their questions hanging in forums and try to pre-empt any questions they might have on your documentation.
Provide recognition and appreciation that can help developers feel valued and respected for their contributions and achievements. For example, you can offer badges, certificates, shout-outs, etc.
Provide opportunities for interaction and collaboration that can help developers connect with you and each other. For example, you can host online meetups and code challenges.
The Best Time Invest in DevRel is Now
There is a high price to pay for neglecting your developer community during a downturn. If you have been ignoring it in favour of more “important” tasks, you should definitely reconsider.
Investing in DevRel now will give you immediate traction now as more developers warm up to your product and start to use it. Further down the road, it will give you the momentum to scale as you build up an experienced pool of developers that are familiar with your product.
Additionally, investing in a downturn (when everyone is cutting back) gives you the best bang for your buck. Developers won’t be distracted by other programs that your competitors are running, giving you outsized impact for every DevRel initiative you run.
However, investing in DevRel during a downturn might not be easy with budget and manpower constraints. Fortunately, we’ve helped many organisations in the same boat as you.
Reach out to us here if you want to find out how you can best invest in DevRel during a downturn.