Even the technically most excellent project in the world won’t have much impact unless it reaches potential users. Popularity isn’t a goal always, but if it’s, then it’s good to know how to approach marketing the project.
The purpose of marketing is to connect the potential user with the project. The topic is covered from the user point of view in the Where to Start Packaging chapter. Marketing is the opposite and answers the question how to make it possible for the user to find the project.
Marketing is a creative pursuit. Given we are dealing with programming, this gives a powerful tool - technical marketing. Also, more traditional approaches, such as content marketing and word of mouth apply.
Given often you don’t have a marketing budget to use, you should be mindful about the approaches you use. Certain approaches allow you to reach a large amount of people at once while converting only few. More targeted approaches reach less people but convert better.
The purpose of technical marketing is to use technology somehow for marketing purposes. This is where techniques like Twitter automation come in. Especially popular projects may have social media accounts of their own. Automation can be used to generate meaningful content to them. This includes announcing new releases or highlighting popular blog posts related to the project.
Sometimes the approach may mean that you have to do something indirect, such as implement a service using the technology. Assuming the service is useful, this will bring eyes to the underlying technology if the message has been carefully crafted so that it’s possible to create this connection.
Assuming you are developing a user interface library, it could make sense to build amazing sites using it to showcase its capabilities. These case studies bring eyes to the project and make it easier to find.
Another way would be to allow the users to get started as fast as possible. The project homepage could contain runnable examples or something that can delight the potential user as soon as possible. Often the problem is in showing the potential. It’s also important because communicating effectively what your project does saves time of people as they waste less time understanding what it’s about.
As a technical marketer, you can develop these kind of marketing channels. Each channel addresses a certain group of people. Sometimes you own the channel, sometimes you don’t. Especially the content marketing related channels require external help.
It’s a good idea to know where the potential users spend time. These are potential marketing channels where you can be visible while leading eyes to your technology. The influence can be sometimes indirect and lead to channels you control.
Content marketing can be applied by writing guest posts for relevant blogs and making sure the posts reach the right aggregators, such as Reddit, Echo JS, or Hashnode. Another way is to produce video series around the technology to discuss its merits. The approaches can be combined and creativity is the key here as you have to stand out from the competition somehow.
Word of mouth is the most classic way of marketing. A happy user will spread the word and convert other people to use your technology. This type of message can amplify the others as marketing is a repetition exercise. It’s not enough to reach the right people once. You have to do it repeatedly to be effective.
When marketing projects, first you have to decide whether you want to market it even. Sometimes popularity isn’t a primary concern as it comes with its challenges related to project growth as discussed in the Longevity chapter. If popularity is the goal, though, then choosing smart marketing approaches can contribute towards this.