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· 7 min read
Tim Post

What did you envision happening once everyone found out what you were working on and could actually touch and interact with it? Did you try not to think about that and let your creativity take it wherever it was destined to go, or did you think about what it would be like to see people use and appreciate your work? It's probably different for everyone, but I think we all remember it as one of 'the' experiences in our catalog of emotional explosions from owning an early-stage company.

The trouble is, you probably had no idea how difficult it would be to take the leap from the 14 people you know finding out about your product to just one person you don't know finding it through your initial marketing efforts. In fact you might have felt slightly terrified at just how hard it can be to get unpaid user acquisition funnels actually primed and working. Notice that I didn't say how expensive, because that's not even a luxury most could realistically contemplate at that point. We're talking baby steps in anything that isn't directly pushing the product, and that often includes marketing.

Co-marketing partnerships are an extremely attractive option at this point for the following reasons:

  • They often cost little in terms of time and money initially because they're easy to cost-box; we'll get into that soon.

  • They have a higher-than-average probability of over-performing compared with other low-cost efforts that only require some content being published and promoted organically in some way. One successful pilot could net more qualified users in your funnel than weeks of trolling landing pages around your own networks.

  • They hinge on networking early which is critical. The sooner you start making friends that know you primarily because of your business the better.

Co-marketing schemes take many forms; the essential ingredients are people putting up equal sweat and financial stake in order to produce something greater than the sum of what they could do with it alone.

Main Developer Co-Marketing Opportunities

Co-marketing for Developers falls into three general buckets:
Co-branding is where you and another party organize a joint offering or event that you'll contribute equally to producing and marketing. You have a product and some resources to promote the arrangement, and the other party brings their customers or followers to the table.

This isn't an exhaustive list of co-branding shenanigans like the one that you copied from the board in marketing school; this is a list of stuff that is most accessible and repeatable to early-stage companies.

Co-Branded Co-Marketing Wins Most For Technology Startups

Out of all three, we recommend the co-branded approach to companies at the seed phase. These have the lowest overall cost and lowest initial cost which is crucial, and the resulting marketing tends to be authentic and well-received. Since the partner marketer also has some sweat-equity in the game, these campaigns tend to run smoothly since both parties remain attentive and responsive as long as they continue to produce.

If you have outside capital, then you have a few thousand bucks you can pony up to a joint marketing pool, or you have that $500 advertising credit you got from someone through the process of signing up for all the crap you need initially. If you're going to throw precious resources at anything marketing related very early when things are scarce, use this approach if you can.

Likewise, if you just want to build a fantastic network of friendly companies and help eachother with growth hacking, jump in!

Just treat them as paid enodorsements. Have the endorser specifically say "Hey this company caught my eye and I think this thing they make is very relevant to all of you" and make sure they can speak as passionately as you can about it, and you're set.

This means your product needs to solve some kind of pain for them, and they need to be really excited about that. If you don't have this chemistry, don't waste your money. It won't work.

With this route, you have some influence over the messaging, you can be there as they use the product so you can help them get the correct experience if bugs pop up (and get them fixed before you air the campaign), and you can plan supporting messaging and distribution ahead of time because you know when it'll be published.

This is our second favorite route only because it costs more, but you're the only one who risks not getting anything out of it. It's better to do this with stronger hunches that can have big payoffs.

Blind Reviews Are For Adolescent Product Teams

You need honest product feedback from as diverse a group as possible, and you need organic links, and you need blogs talking about you, and maybe by now you can afford some $50 Amazon gift cards?

Then you're ready to offer a review partner program! It's a very one-sided arrangement where the people trying your product control everything; you just provide them with access and motivation.

What You Do / ProvideWhat They Do / Provide
Software licenses & access, motivation, agreement and hands-off support.An honest review linking to your site, promoted to the community along with constructive feedback.

Depending on who you invite, this can get you a lot of great feedback and exposure, as well as expose lots of issues that would have been an inconvenience to a great many more people had you not done the testing. When we do this, our goal is to get feedback like "this was a pain to come back to after I was done feeding the baby" and not just "wow, dark mode!", so organize it responsibly and mindfully.

This becomes a great option in the months leading to your product becoming generally available.


Co-marketing is one of the VERY first things you want to get good at seeking and coordinating when you need to get something new in front of people that are likely to care about it. Schemes where a partner not only increases the resources that can be put into it, but also carries half the load, are the most ideal for the early days.

In tha later days, it's great practice to pump goodwill back into the community you hope to serve by offering deals to key influecers in respectful, non-exploitative terms without oppressive restrictions. This isn't scary, it's just the process of moving your product from almost ready to ready. You need to understand how its going to impact people before it does, and this is a great way to find out.

And, we can totally help with that.

A 45 Minute Introductory Call Is Free - Take Advantage Of It With No Obligation! →

The initial evaluation is free and there's no pesky sales follow up calls. If we don't get excited about working togther on the call, we won't pester you.

· 4 min read
Tim Post

We pay marketers to come up with landing pages that resonate with developers, and those marketers ultimately pay the very developers they're hoping to entice to build the page .... doesn't that sound a little bit weird to you?

MDX means better marketing. If you take nothing else away from this, make sure that you look into putting MDX/JSX in the hands of your marketing team, so that they can form and bake their own clay in the kilns. Pages that marketers can produce themselves, with no other gate keepers, are going to convert better and faster than anything else.

Why is this?

  • Because your marketing team can make mistakes faster, learn from them, and iterate in multiple directions at once. You're freed when the prospect of possibly wasting someone else's time is off the table.

  • Because your kickoff meetings will stop ending on downers when people realize that it will be weeks before developers can make pages live for them, or anticipation of developers challenging even the premise of the idea in the absence of data. It just feels 'too uphill.'

  • Because people tend to dumb their ideas down significantly when they know that they'll be relying on other people's time to deal with whatever comes of them. I'll be much bolder in initial copy, for instance, if I know I can walk it back quickly if a hunch doesn't play out.

And there are more and more things that come into play, but none of this is new. We've tried developing CMS systems that are more 'friendly' to 'non tech folks' and other things, but in reality, we just end up abstracting all the wrong things and end up giving them something that feels heavy, ill-suited and constraining.

What if the only bar to being able to put raw ideas on the Internet and see how people react to them was learning Github Flavored Extended Markdown and how to copy / paste / tweak a dozen or so React components where a more interactive experience is needed?

When we set up Docusaurus for any tech company, one of the VERY first things we do is provide them with components to embed conversations on social media, videos, arbitrary JS widgets (discord, twitch, etc) and guidance on how to handle images properly. This means their marketing teams don't need developer help in order to devise their experiments and rock on with them, nor do they need to learn some kind of software - they just need to know how to use a text editor and have a markdown cheat sheet.

While we Love Docusaurus and will be continuing to use and promote it, it's just one of many that you can use. Anything that lets you mix components with markdown naturally, with a styling system that's easily abstracted away means you're giving your marketing AND engineering teams equal footing to throw things at the wall. There's probably more friction here than you realize, unless of course you're a marketer.

Most of my best accomplishments in driving growth share a characteristic with my non-accomplishments: they started off as hunches and intuition I needed to see a bigger sampling of before I could explain them to someone else.

Knowing how uphill that can be, I learned to abandon ideas that required more than a trivial level of emotional investment quickly, or defending even just one could get so emotionally-draining that I'd need an entire day off to want to be around people again. That's a shame, because a bunch of great stuff never happened at Stack Overflow, mostly because I couldn't figure out how to back the idea with enough data to justify any engineering time being spent on it even just to see if it would incubate.

Don't let your company be like that. Free your marketing team so they can be contenders for adults in the room before you decide who the adults are going to be when growth slows and someone has to try something. Remove the clogs from the output side of things first.

MDX is a big step forward in that process and you need to make sure your marketing team has access to a platform that enables it.

A 45 Minute Introductory Call Is Free - Take Advantage Of It With No Obligation! →

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· 5 min read
Tim Post

The sun has just about set on another Saturday evening and I've spent a lot of time thinking about personalities. Some thinking has been about my own and who I need to be for Echoreply to be successful, as well as who Echoreply needs to be as it starts taking off from the soul shard or two that I put in it.

We as marketers are charged with personifying organizations in an effort to make them more relateable, and if you follow frozen beef sheets on Twitter, you're looking at a new professional art form. We as marketers do this extremely well and that .. worries me sometimes in the world of software that we live in.

I've arrived at corporate personification being harmful and I need no other evidence beyond how much effort we believe is required for human beings to relate to other human beings on behalf of a brand. Why do we insist that organizations, comprised mostly of human beings, are less human and fallable than the sum of the humans they consist of? Why don't we just be ourselves and humans the 99.5% of the time that just being ourselves would be perfectly sufficient? I've come to call this "The Cult Of Tech Company Personalities" after also observing that most PR disasters I've ever directly been involved with or caused could have been averted had I just let people be themselves. This cult-like behavior really can grab ahold of you.

This phenomenon constantly tasks me because we try our best to help our clients NOT be like this; why we "Vulcanize" all of a sudden when speaking on behalf of our brand is something that keeps me up late at night and in the shower until the water runs tepid.

My approach, thus far, has been to integrate myself as much as possible in our client's product workflow and essentially bring out the character traits that the organization already has, in the form of writing guidelines and media standards that are needed for everyone to happily human together consistently when pointed outwardly.

There's always a point where people begin to wonder if the voice is too genuine; despite strict observance of all expected formailities, norms and other things, and zero evidence that changing anything would be a good idea. But, despite admitting it's irrational, our own comfort often makes us sound less like people when we communicate while working in general, magnified by 10 if we're outward-facing.

As humans we know "too nice" when we see it, often because our reaction to it is sufficiently viscereal that we can't really anticipate it. Echoreply is one of the few companies nuts enough to put serious engineering muscle into brand voice KPIs, so it leaves us with a bit of our own personality helix to decode. And that, folks, is fun stuff to work on.

We currently do a pretty good job of tracking the impact of even miniscule changes to any part of our funnels, even completely unintentional ones that we weren't specifically monitoring for -- this is thanks to really great observability and testing platforms that integrate effortlessly. However, social sentiment as well as plotting likely emotional influences in and between data sets is almost always left up to anecdotal observations distilled down by senior leaders - in other words, it goes 'out back' to die.

We need to help bridge the "I can see this anecdotally" -> "I can Show You Where This Has Been Hiding" gap. Put another way, you notice when those you trust have even tiny changes to their personalities, which can sometimes make friendships with people who are still finding their authentic selves rather diffifcult at times. Unfortunately, we far too often overcorrect for this presumption when we think about it in the sense of our business and all too often deliver ourselves like pretentious, bland and strikingly overpriced theme park food.

Echoreply's process (currently in development) flips this on its head, asserts that humans are perfectly capable of relating to one another with their own personliaties, and implements only a minimal amount of structure on communications. That's usually a very bad idea, unless you can monitor it in real time and chart corrections organization-wide in how you relate to people.

That's what gets me out of bed every day. I'm sick and tired of all the product super hero stories revolving around someone in CS or DevRel or somewhere else having to break ranks and just be human instead. Why don't we just, y'know, do that by default? I can't wait to bring that to reality with all the guard rails it needs to work.

And thanks for helping me think out loud as the sun warms the front face of our house. This and more highly-specialized KPIs will soon be available to design partners in their client area, and also available via version-0 of our REST API which is coming out a month from tomorrow.

A 45 Minute Introductory Call Is Free - Take Advantage Of It With No Obligation! →

The initial evaluation is free and there's no pesky sales follow up calls. If we don't get excited about working togther on the call, we won't pester you.

· 4 min read
Tim Post

I'm often asked, "Should the person handling Developer Relations report to Product or Engineering?"

Sometimes, the answer is "yes", but most often, the answer is "neither" and what comes next might just surprise you - we've seen the best success when DevRel reported into Marketing. The reasons for this are also interesting:

  1. It prevents power dynamics from short-circuiting the advocacy function that the Developer Relations role critically supports. You can't be annoying, even professionally annoying, if you're worried about how it's going to affect your comp or performance review. That may NEVER be a problem where you are and if it's not, then fantastic. But you need to think about it hard.

  2. It tightly couples messaging that's given across a variety of contexts to fill a variety of needs. The reason you have a DevRel is to communicate outwardly beyond what the marketing for top-down adoption strategies is communicating. If you're reporting into the marketing wing, you're constantly perfecting this with them, and it's subsequently stronger.

  3. It lets you set DevRel as a goal for anyone junior on your marketing squad. Don't just wait for engineers to realize they take a shine to the marketing stuff, let marketers also feel like they can take a shine to the engineering stuff. What matters is real voices come out.

DevRel really is about the show which is why we really feel like it belongs in the creator space as much as it does anywhere. We're storytellers with a knack for simplifying complicated concepts; having been an engineer is one way of acquiring that, but certainly not the only one.

What About Reporting To Sales Engineering Or Support Engineering?

Those would also be fantastic choices for DevRel to report to. In fact, it might actually be preferable if there is an unusually high "touch" count for onboarding to your product, because it's certain to ensure the DevRel stays very focused on friction points as they work with the product folks, and saves lots of time back and forth.

Similarly, if you're at a point where your value proposition still requires a complicated demonstration, it might make sense for the DevRel to report into the sales wing as sort of a bastion against breakage for client workflows.

Whatever makes sense, but again, keep in mind that advocates need to, well, advocate - make sure there's no conflict of interest with self-advancement from just doing their jobs.

This Doesn't Change The Universal Hat Stand Function Of DevRel.

Often called the glue that binds multiple teams together, we also have to ensure that if just one role is super-optimized with whatever is needed to operate with great autonomy between teams, it's this one. So before you go changing who reports where, it takes a special kind of manager to help developer advocates succeeed.

One day you're learning about pain points in a language you've never used before; the next day you're recording a feature demo, and then you need to put some time into thinking about how you can get your users the best deal in a controversial feature update - my point is, you don't produce consistent artifacts just by working consistent hours every week. Managers need a great deal of trust and emotional grown-upness to grow people in this role.

You Can Also Just Hire Us And Think About More Important Things Right Now.

We can take care of most early needs until you're getting close to realizing launch and making some hires, and it's extremely affordable.

A 45 Minute Introductory Call Is Free - Take Advantage Of It With No Obligation! →

The initial evaluation is free and there's no pesky sales follow up calls. If we don't get excited about working togther on the call, we won't pester you.