Content is a mainstay of many Developer Relations teams, but it can sometimes be tough to show the impact that you’re having. Content on your company blog can be instrumented and attributed well, but what about things like YouTube videos or recorded conference talks?
You can build out complex tracking systems with UTM parameters and short URLs, but there’s an easier way to understand how your content is being used. It all starts with your internal teams.
DevRel is typically a cost centre. There isn’t any revenue attributed directly to the team. The best way I’ve found to justify your existence (and yes, unfortunately this is a thing in every business) is to attach yourself to the revenue generating teams.
Serving your internal audience has two outcomes:
- You support teams that drive new business. The sales team can link to your videos to show prospective customers the capabilities of your platform and how easy it is to use
- You save time for existing teams, which means you’re saving $$$. Every proof of concept cycle that is 10% faster thanks to your demo videos is money that the business isn’t spending on Sales Engineers. Every support ticket that is replied to with a link to your content is time that an agent doesn’t have to spend writing a response.
In both of these cases you’re drawing a direct link between the content that you’re producing and the impact it has on the revenue or efficiency of the business.
This is where the TAPE model comes in.
TAPE stands for Trigger, Action, People, Examples.
- Trigger: Why are we producing this content? What problems have we observed that we can help solve?
- Action: What are we producing? Is this best presented in the documentation, as a blog post, as a video etc?
- People: Who is asking for this? Not our end customers, but our internal stakeholders. Can we make other teams successful?
- Examples: Where is this being used? Is your content being used to solve support tickets? Is it being used to prove we have certain capabilities during an RFP?
By matching the content you produce to pain points that internal teams are having you know that the content is going to resonate with at least one audience. This is your trigger, your reason for producing the content in the first place.
Understanding who’s going to consume your content helps you decide which action to take. A VP of infrastructure is more likely to scan a documentation page than watch a video. A developer at a Global System Integrator might be more at home with a 60 minute deep dive video on to how to write plugins for your system.
Aim to make friends by supporting the right people. If you’re working with the sales team, target enterprise sales reps rather than lower value digital customers. If you’re working with Sales Engineers, work with regional leads who can help evangelise the work you do more widely. Saying “I helped $VP with $TOP10 customer” is much more impactful than saying “I solved 10 loosely related support tickets”
Then finally, keep track of how your content is being used. Make a note every time someone links to one of your pieces of content in Slack. This could be a product manager asking how a feature built before they joined works. It could be someone from marketing asking how a new feature behaves so that they can position it correctly. Building up a list of examples allows you to show that not only did you identify an opportunity to support people internally, the content is being used repeatedly to help enable the rest of the business.
Alright, so what does that actually look like? Here are five examples to get you started.
Trigger: Product decision to deprecate a feature
Action: FAQ, migration recommendations
People: CPO, Support, Docs Team, Customer Success
Examples: CPO shares with internal teams. Support use with inbound tickets. Docs team write public facing docs. Customer Success proactively reach out to their customers to explain how to migrate.
Trigger: New feature released
Action: 3 minute demo video showing how it works
People: Product Manager, Product Marketing, Social Media Manager, Solutions Engineers, Sales
Examples: Product Manager / Product Marketing used in sales enablement. Social media used for a blog post. Solutions engineers used as a basis for their own demos. Sales used to show prospects the platform capabilities.
Trigger: Marketing campaign by competitor
Action: Rebuttal video showing off product capabilities
People: Product Marketing, Sales
Examples: Product Marketing builds battle cards using the information. Sales use the content to influence champions within a business.
Trigger: Difficult to run your OSS project on MacOS
Action: Work on README and improving error messages in the app
People: Engineering, Community, Support
Examples: Increased contribution velocity for engineering. A community develops around your project. Reduced support ticket volume for common use cases
Trigger: An event is looking for a speaker
Action: Write and present a talk
People: Marketing, Sales
Examples: Marketing run the event with good attendance to drive MQLs. Sales use the content to show off platform capabilities with potential customers.
Using internal triggers as your source of content ideas allows you to map your contributions to the goals of other teams. Many of these teams contribute directly to revenue, and if you make them successful it’s easy to show the impact you’re having on the business.
It might be tempting at this point to try to add some attribution directly to your team. You might negotiate that 2% of every sale where your material is used is attributed to your team.
This is a trap.
If you can claim 2% of every deal (and this is a high percentage), you need to do 100 deals worth $500,000 every single year to get $1 million in attribution. If you’re impacting 100 deals per year, chances are that you’ve got a large-ish team who are definitely costing more than $1 million per year.
Instead, focus on the relationships. People trust people. A VP saying “that DevRel team sure are awesome. They’ve cut our sales cycle by 2 weeks” is worth much more than 2% of a sale.