Why is it so hard to sell your SDK?

You gave it all you’ve got. Your team put in nights and weekends to meet deadlines. There were ups and downs, highs and lows, blood, sweat and tears, but after months, maybe years of work you got there. Your SDK that you know is going to be a hit is finally ready. But now, how to get it out to your target audience? Well let me tell you, after working in acquisition and growth for a few SDKs now, I can assure you it’s not going to be easy. And all the SDK vendors and VPs of Marketing out there can attest to this as well. Getting your product out to its audience is harder than it sounds.

In order to develop a strategy for getting our products (be they SDKs, code libraries, or other dev tools) out to our target audience, we need to understand where developers go to find their tools. First of course is a simple Google search. This usually results in a hundred different tabs open on three different windows so your product is bound to get lost in the clutter — and that’s if they even found it in the first place.

Then of course you have things like online forums and niche specific blogs. Today, Reddit is becoming an increasingly important community for developers, and of course various forums and twitter are still relevant. Last, we’re starting to see full SDK directories which are likely to continue to gain in popularity as they can streamline the search process.

With this in mind, what are some tactics we can deploy in order to get our products out to our target audience?

We can always try developers conferences, which are in no short supply. Just check out www.softdevconferences.com and you’ll see just how many there are all around the globe. A problem here is that they can be time consuming and expensive. Of course they have the advantage of allowing you to really connect with the audience, which can be beneficial. Still, you’re only connecting with a very small percentage of that audience.

Next you can look into buying media on niche websites, say for example planetpython.org if you’re looking to target the python crowd. Here again you’ll be targeting your audience, and hopefully a larger percentage of them than with the dev conferences. The problem is, if you look at it from a CPM perspective, you’ll soon find you probably have a negative ROI. Bummer.

Now you can always go with an SEO campaign. You know the drill — get all your relevant keywords in order, outsource or get an in-house SEO strategist and in no time at all you’ll see your site ranked higher and higher. And by “no time at all” I mean, a really long time! Good god, does anything take longer than improving your organic ranking? By the time we get to a top 10 Google rank, my kids are going to be in college — and I don’t even have kids yet! And of course all this comes at a cost. These SEO guys, they don’t come cheap! Again, one really needs to consider ROI when it comes to an SEO strategy.

Last we have the newer option of getting featured on an SDK directory. As of today there are only a few of these, take www.discoversdk.com for example. They list code libraries, dev tools, and SDKs by category, and often have some code examples. Also, there will usually be some kind of peer review to lend some credibility. Now, listing your product in this type of directory is free, so doing that is a real no-brainer. The question is really about going for a full campaign.

Here there seems to be real potential for, dare I say it, positive ROI. Plus, you should get a little backlink SEO bonus which never hurts. A problem here though could be that, depending on the category, you may only be reaching a few thousand developers per month. But since this is the newer option, that figure could stand to rise as this type of directory continues to gain in popularity. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

We’ll that’s it folks. If you have any other tricks up your sleeve, let us know. As they say, sharing is caring and we’re all in the same boat here out here.