Overnight success is rare. Quite rare. Many variables must line up to become successful. It usually takes longer to gain traction with customers than anyone would like.
Let's look at what may delay your DevTool success.
We’ll also touch on Michael Christofides’ story. Christofides is a developer who has worked and waited to achieve success on his terms. He tells his full story in a recent Scaling DevTools podcast.
Waiting and Working Works
Christofides has waited over three years to realize his ideal of success. But running the company is so satisfying that he hopes to keep going for “30, 40 years, maybe forever.”
pgMustard optimizes PostgreSQL search queries. Customers use his product only when they have issues with their Postgres-based application.
While Christofides hasn’t achieved huge financial success, he has a loyal and consistent client base. His business is ethical, his product excellent. His documentation is superb, and his content marketing is growing. The longer he works and waits, the better things get.
We’ll talk about what takes so much time before achieving success. We’ll also touch on Christofides’ solutions to overcoming customer resistance.
Content marketing works
Although it takes time, developer marketing’s effectiveness comes through organic SEO. As most developers know, SEO results take a while to show up. It takes time and effort to rank on the SERPs.
You may have to wait for success due to a lack of relevant, up-to-date, and compelling content on your website. You may have to wait until you build domain authority. Are you optimizing your SEO keywords based on user intent? If not, you’ll get little response.
What about competition for the best keywords? In a saturated market, it’s necessary to find the right long-tail keywords. These drive small but significant numbers of people to your content.
Once on your site, your content must solve your visitor’s problem. To follow the DevRel philosophy, you need to help your potential customers be better at what they do.
“When developers have a problem, they go to Google. Help customers with an exact problem, then mention that you have a product.”
Word-of-mouth Marketing Works
Beneficial word-of-mouth comes from satisfied customers. But it takes time for people to start talking about your product. If you don’t have many users yet—people who have already tried your product—word-of-mouth is slow to arrive.
Be warned: Word-of-mouth can work against you, too. For better or worse, people will talk about your product. You must ensure that your product, documentation, and support deserve fantastic recommendations. Negative word-of-mouth can kill sales for a long time or even forever.
Once people try or buy your product, it must do what it claims to do. Your documentation must be complete, clear, concise, and
helpful. Your support is quick and friendly. Putting this all together is a lengthy process. This way, word-of-mouth marketing will kick in and propel sales.
Proper Pricing Works
Product pricing must be correct, or people won’t buy. When sales are slow, it takes time to analyze why people aren’t buying.
Why are people not excited about your offering? Does the price sound too cheap to be good? Too expensive? Are your terms vague or confusing? How have you lost the trust and motivation to try your product?
Sometimes the standard pricing advice doesn’t work for your specific product. You may need to vary from the norm to succeed. Deciding this through testing, trial, and error adds more waiting time.
“ ’Charge more, charge for value,’ ended up being bad advice for us, maybe in general for people starting up.”
Don’t follow popular marketing advice mindlessly. Find what works for you, not for other products. Again, take the time to test, experiment, analyze, and improve.
Adding Features May Not Work
Potential customers don’t care much about how many features your product has. What they want is the feature that solves their problem now.
Adding more features can dilute the effectiveness and attractiveness of your product. Too many features complicate everything, including UI/UX. Customers will not buy something they have difficulty using during the trial period.
With the proper number of features, the perfect product still won’t sell if people don’t know it exists. Your time may be much better spent on marketing, especially if sales are slow.
Product development satisfies the developer. Marketing can excite the customers and drive sales if the product is good. But even a mediocre product will outsell a great one if the mediocre product’s marketing is superior. An inferior product won’t sell once the bad word gets out about it.
Success Comes to Those Who Wait
“Success is all about talking to customers, understanding how they use the product, what they like about it, what they dislike about it, why they might leave in a few years’ time, and which bits of our roadmap they’re most excited about.”
Content marketing, word-of-mouth, correct pricing, and outstanding developer support results in product success.
And finally, in the words of Michael Christofides, “Make a good product, and treat people well.”
That’s what works. It’s worth the wait.
Hear Michael Christofides’ full story on the Scaling Dev Tools podcast, hosted by Jack Bridger.
Written by Don Hamilton