Ask a DZone Editor: Writing About Your Product or Service on DZone
In the next entry in our ''Ask a DZone Editor'' blog series, we tackle the difficult subject of promoting your tech product or service on DZone.
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Welcome to our new monthly Writers' Zone series, "Ask a DZone Editor." Need writing advice or input on how DZone works? Let us know! Email firstname.lastname@example.org with "Ask a DZone Editor" in the subject line, and we might feature your question in a future column. We're here to help!
In last month's "Ask a DZone Editor" column, I mentioned that DZone will not advertise your product or service for free. (I doubt that any website worth your time would do so.) We don't publish traditional press releases, and here on the editorial team, "marketing" and "advertising" are kind of dirty words.
It's not that we're snobbish about content. We know that you, our readers, are in learning mode when you visit DZone — and we know you don't want to be spammed with pleas that the latest low-code platform or ICO or smart home product is the greatest thing ever.
Right now, though, I'm going to flip the script and look at things from the other side. What do you do if you're a team of developers who really need to find a larger audience for your product? How on earth does a young startup with no funding proceed to spread the word about its disruptive new (fill in the blank)?
We'd love to be the first place you decide to share your idea, but your writing needs to be every bit as creative as your code. Our readers are savvy. They will be unimpressed with the standard claims that your product happens to be the best. They'll notice if you promote the benefits of your product without mentioning its downsides (or any other alternatives on the market). They'll even smell something fishy if your case study sounds too positive.
This shouldn't discourage you — rather, try to see it as a challenge. There are indeed ways you can stand out (in a good way!) to the DZone audience.
Our readers have to want to read your articles, and to achieve that, you have to give them something they value. It's unproductive to tell them that your product is a game-changer without the data to back it up — and even then, they probably won't believe you until someone they trust has given you an outstanding recommendation. Take a different path instead, and work on becoming that person they trust.
As our research analyst Tom Smith states in a post on his personal blog, "Be real. Be reliable. Be responsive. Or, be gone." Yes, it is possible to self-promote without being a jerk. If your content is helpful to a bigger crowd than just your prospective customers, you'll make a good impression. You'll have to give away some of your ideas for free, of course. But you'll reap the rewards in terms of brand awareness, and even additional consideration further down the line, as prospects do their research.
Although we editors don't like the word "marketing," a lot of DZone posts fall into the category of content marketing. Before the rest of the team shuns me as they read this, hear me out — content marketing (when done well) has very little to do with the heavy-handed, high-pressure "infomercial" ads you may have seen if you've ever been awake and in front of a TV at three o'clock in the morning in the US. Content marketing is more about establishing yourself as a trustworthy presence across the internet, while leaving all the selling for your website to do.
On DZone, with our audience of software developers, this often means creating a tutorial on how to use your product — we even have a tutorial on how to convert a press release into a tutorial, if you're interested. But there are many other approaches to producing great content.
For example, in this Forbes article, Josh Steimle calls The Lego Movie "one of the greatest examples of content marketing to date."
"Oh, you thought they made that movie in order to sell movie tickets? Think again," he says. "That was a 100-minute toy commercial, and rather than using a DVR to skip it, you paid good money to watch it."
You might not (probably don't) have the budget that Lego does, but you can still provide the good people of the internet with information they're excited to find. Have you considered making a video series involving live coding? What about a podcast interviewing movers and shakers in the industry? Comic strips about the lives of software developers? We've published all of these types of content, and judging by the page views, our audience loves them. Consider investing serious time and effort into creating something people will really want to consume.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.