The most effective way to market to developers is to genuinely give them something of value with no catch. It's not a popular answer, but marketing to developers requires a long history of building trust and reputation by giving value away to the developer community.

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Understanding Who Buys Developer Tools

The first step in any marketing approach is figuring out who your customers are. So who buys developer tools?

Software Developers might not be the ones making the final purchasing decisions, but the best engineering leadership leans on developers to inform decisions that impact them. Developers have more buying power than typical individual contributors when selling B2B products.

Leaders look to developers

For a good example, consider continuous integration tools. There are a lot of really great commercial solutions on the market. Between GitHub Actions, CircleCI, SemaphoreCI, and others, there are a lot of options that can be hard to compare.

If were a technology leader, how would you decide which solution to purchase for your organization? You would probably look towards the people who will be actually using the product - your software engineers! There will be a lot of factors that go into the final decision, but without developer buy-in, it's hard for any developer tool to sell.

Developers are the ones with problems to solve

Let's look at it from another angle.

Imagine you're a developer at a young and quickly growing startup. As your product gets more users, the pressure to have a reliable and performant application grows. You may be hearing about issues with the application from your customer support team or customers themselves. You need some way to get notified of errors or performance problems in the application before your customers experience them.

As an experienced developer, you probably already know that the tool you're looking for is an application performance monitoring tool. You have a few in mind, so you pitch your leadership on the benefits of buying the tool you trust the most.

Developer tools products solve problems that developers have, so it only makes sense to market directly to them!

Helping Developers with Free Software Tools

One great way to market to developers is to build a tool hosted on your site that helps solve a common problem. Many forms of marketing call this a lead magnet.

The goal of a mini-tool like this is to bring in traffic for people experiencing a particular problem, so you can help them with their problem and build trust with them. This is an underutilized and underrated strategy, likely because it requires up-front effort to build the tool.

This tool that helps developers build and test regular expressions is a great example of a free software tool that builds trust for your brand. Regular expressions are a particularly tricky part of software development that most developers do not commit to memory. Someone working on a problem that requires them to write a regular expression might search "regular expression builder" and come across this tool, which would lead to your website.

Another simple tool that could live on your website as a lead magnet is something like this cron job explainer. Cron jobs are another tricky and uncommon software skill, so search traffic for this term is consistently high. This particular tool is a landing page for a developer tool that monitors cron jobs, which is directly related to the searcher's problem. This is a great tool for this business, as the traffic coming to the site is much more likely than the average person to be interested in the product associated with the tool.

Still, a tool you're using as a lead magnet doesn't have to be directly related to your core product. The point of offering a free tool is to build trust with developers over time.

Building Reputation with Open-Source Contributions

Another effective way to build reputation with developers is to contribute to the open-source community. Open-source software powers much of the world, and it's almost guaranteed that your own product leans on open-source software in some way.

An easy way to contribute to open-source software is to open-source some tool that your business already uses. Meta is building a huge reputation in the open-source community through open-sourcing LLAMA, their lightweight LLM. They've attracted developers to use their products, contribute to it, or even come work on it full-time as a result. Now, when considering open-source AI, Meta comes to mind for developers before the ironically named Open AI.

Another great way to contribute to the open-source community is by sponsoring projects that your company uses. GitHub Sponsors makes it easy for you to financially support projects or even contributors in a very public way.

Lastly, consider dedicating some of your own engineering time to contributing code to open-source projects. Shopify has executed this strategy very well with their contributions to Rails, building their reputation as a business that understands developers.

Building Trust by Sponsoring Conferences

Sponsoring conferences is a great way to capture developer attention and build a brand that software engineers recognize. Software engineers often go to conferences to hone their skills, and it's common that sponsors get a chance to give away swag, explain their offerings, or even recruit talent.

Sponsoring a software conference is expensive, so it makes sense to focus on a niche that applies to your product. If you know most of your potential users write React, then an Angular conference isn't a good choice.

Building Goodwill by Sponsoring Creators

While you're long-term investing in content that builds trust for your own brand, you can borrow trust from an existing creator with a sponsorship. Podcasts, Youtubers, bloggers, and even newsletters are looking for sponsors to bring in revenue for their content.

If you can find a creator who has already built a following in the niche that most aligns with your business, then it makes sense to offer to sponsor their content in exchange for advertising.

Technical Content Marketing

Writing content to bring in traffic has existed since the dawn of the internet, and has been commercialized as content marketing. Technical content marketing is the practice of creating niche content for technical audiences.

Creating original, useful technical content brings in traffic through organic search and even direct sharing. If you write something for your site that can educate developers, you can build reputation and trust while gaining high-value traffic.

Many developer tools websites are full of articles and tutorials aimed at educating software engineers. Some content is generic, while other content is about the product itself.

Still, creating great content for developers is hard. The internet is full of programming content, and generative AI is making it even harder to stand out. If you're going to write technical content to market to developers, then ensure it is unique and useful.


Marketing to software engineers requires a rare combination of skills in marketing and software engineering. Writing for software developers is one of the best ways to market developer tools, but it takes care to get it right.

Are you ready to invest in writing content for developers?

SyntaxPen can help, we deliver engaging tutorials and high-level pieces that educate developers across many languages and frameworks.