Growth May 23, 2020

How can I learn marketing as a developer?


I'm a developer and want to become an Indie Hacker. I've seen that a successful product requires more than the technical skills to build it. I want to learn about marketing, building an audience, sales ... the whole package. Where should I start?

I would really like recommendations of books about the fundamental concepts of these topics, since that is the usual way I learn about new things. But whatever source of knowledge I would appreciate!

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    I've enjoyed:

    • The Lean Startup for MVP, experiments to find product/market fit, and getting feedback
    • Lean B2B by @indieorbust for the enterprise and B2B where Lean Startup was B2C focused.
    • The Bootstrapped Founder by @arvidkahl for growth, management, planning, communications, etc
    • SNAP Sales by Jill Konrath for hammering it home that your communications have to be Simple, iNvaluable, Aligned, and high Priority
    • @harrydry For all of his marketing content.
    • @rosiesherry + @csallen because they've built a great community here.
    • For real world case studies.

    There's probably more but hopefully that's a good start.

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        Thanks for mentioning Lean B2B, Simon! 💪

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      Thanks for the shout! That’s a fantastic list.
      Can also recommend reading the Growth Bites that Indiehackers posts every few days.

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    Shameless plug: I run the Zero to Marketing newsletter. It has that name for a reason 😂

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    'Everyone hates marketeers' podcast is worth a listen.

    Seth Godin is worth a look too. His latest 'This Is Marketing' is relevant. He inspired me very much in my early days.

    I love @missrogue's style too -

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      @andrscyv I have a few faves when it comes to SaaS marketing (assuming that is what you're building):

      @Aprildunford's Obviously Awesome book (all about positioning)
      @clairesuellentrop and Georgiana Laudi's amazing content (with lots and lots of free stuff, but I suggest you pay!) at Forget the Funnel:
      The classic (and incredibly simple read) Talking to Humans: by @giffc
      You will probably enjoy @harrydry's Marketing Examples: - really smart, snappy, clear marketing lessons that are highly implementable!
      I see that @amyhoy is already mentioned. Love the stuff that her and @alexhillman do (I got lots out of the Just F*&ing Ship Premium:

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        <3 <3 <3

        a lot of stuff i haven't heard before. feasting. gracias!

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    The advice us devs don't want to hear :-P - Marketing and sales is a spectrum. You might want to start with sales because you'll get valuable feedback and learn who your real audience is and how to reach them.

    And more specific to your question: - 16 stories of how IHers got their first users - Justin Jackson says don't just let for users, but "boosters" who believe in you and will help you grow

    @amyhoy (stacking the bricks) has a lot of info on the topic.

    And if you want to take a step back, think about books like The Mom Test, which explains how to talk to people to make sure your idea has real value.

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      Great articles , thanks !

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    Another shameless plug: if you're looking to do content marketing, blogging, and SEO, I run a newsletter that teaches this on

    Otherwise, in terms of books, I think it helps to start with Customer Development. I really liked Lean Customer Development and The Mom Test to get started in that department.

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      Awesome, thanks !

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    Before people will start up-selling you on their courses, newsletters and other things here let me tell you one thing with no incentives, there is no silver bullet and marketing only makes sense when you have your metrics figured out (CAC / LTV for B2C, and Sales Cost / Avg. deal size / Cycle for B2B). I recommend Sales Acceleration Formula for B2B.

    However, your best choice of education is just to do it, even before you have a product. LP for B2C and just cold emailing / linkedining for B2B. You fail, you learn, you move on and succeed. Best MBA is doing, there is no magical formula or method because all businesses are different and you as an owner know best your audience & market.

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      Getting my hands dirty sounds like the way to go !

      What is LP for business to business ?

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        B2C business => You create a landing page and drive traffic to get sign-ups / pre-payments
        B2B business => You approach future stakeholders and talk to them + sign MoUs

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    Some great resources have already been posted here. Aside from that I would focus on learning by doing. Marketing and sales are not a black box or magic. It's all about understand the audience you are targeting and then communicating with them.

    And the beautiful thing about doing marketing on the web is that you can try things, experiment, learn and adapt very quickly. So put whatever you've read about or learned about into practice as soon as possible and see what happens. You will learn even more by doing that.

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      I’ll put all this info to practice !

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    Sales & marketing is extremely important. You or your team definitely needs to know about it to be successfully. While you are learning those skills, my advice is to pick your project/business wisely. Here is my thought on this.

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    Talk benefits not features. How will the product benefit the users? What will they feel, have, get?

    What can you demo, to customer that will make them believe your benefits?

    How are you dramatically different than the competition.

    These via a good marketing book "Jump Start Your Business Brain" by Doug Hall

    Learn about Persuasion, ( a book I've started to write.

    A/B test.

    Track anything, ad, tweet, copy, color, design that attracts your attention and emulate.

    Market your product first then build it.

    Outsource your marketing.

    Have a great Product or Service and let word-of-mouth work.

    Work on your SEO for your content.

    Get free publicity by starting with small local news items and moving up the chain.

    Partner with a "Steve Jobs."

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    The Lean Startup is a great book!

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      I’ve read it , it’s great !