Anatomy of a developer mind share turnaround

Today at BlackBerry Jam Europe 2013, my boss Alec Saunders (VP BlackBerry Ecosystems) announced that several leading developer research firms have reported a 28% to 38% developer primary target of BlackBerry 10.  To understand the magnitude of this reversal of fortune one must realize that during January 2012 NPS reports showed a developer sentiment of -40 for BlackBerry overall, so we achieved this turnaround during a single year with highly charged events occurring like the CEO changeover, network and financial issues.

I’ve previously discussed how operationally we quickly innovated on various well known evangelism tactics as a team and how that both focuses and unifies the team.   This also enabled us to try different tactics and strategies running simultaneously.  However, to achieve the developer mind share turnaround we need to take a year long look back.

First: While our team monitors and highly values third party research,  nothing beats actually talking to developers yourself.  Research inherently lags actual developer mindshare, our entire team “talks” to developers face to face and via popular forums constantly.  As I’ve always said, developers will tell you what they want, you just need to listen, then act, quickly.

Second: Consistency of strategy and message.  This must be based on real capabilities of your platform and tools.  While we’ve refined our developer message to “Beautiful, Integrated & Social” we started the year with a bit wordier and more conceptual version of the same messaging.   Your SDK must enable your developers to embrace and implement the key features and technologies that make your message a reality, they quickly dismiss any “marketing only” platforms.

Third: Live your own value prop.  Your own apps or features need to consistently manifest the same qualities that you are messaging to the developers.  At my old employers this was called “dogfooding”.

Fourth: Early access.  I’ve already talked about early evangelism in a previous post.

Fifth: Have fun!  Alec, Marty and Chris made the now infamous rock videos to just have fun with our developer community.  This is the true ethos of our approach to evangelism, to enjoy working with the community and share the love.

One last thing, read an analysts take on our approach to developers that he witnessed at our European conference today, said it better than I am able to.

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