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  • 🍐#56: How to launch on Hacker News, brand vs product messaging on the homepage, and an awesome 1-2-3 how-to section

🍐#56: How to launch on Hacker News, brand vs product messaging on the homepage, and an awesome 1-2-3 how-to section

Hey,

What’s the best place to keep your pears? A tupear 🍐 ;)

This week on the agenda:

  • Brand vs product marketing messaging and which should go on your homepage

  • How to launch a dev tool on Hacker News (my findings)

  • 1-2-3 how-to section from Appsmith

  • + a few bonus links at the end

Let’s go!

Developer marketing insights

1. Brand vs product marketing messaging and which should go on your homepage

This is one of many “100%, nicely put Anthony” moments I had this/last year.

I think this is especially important when thinking about what should go on your homepage. Is it your big vision that you wake up to build every day or the measly 1% of that vision that your product does today?

And this is a hard pill to swallow for many tech founders. Your know your product will be so much bigger than a single “{Capability} for {Framework} devs”. You want to make the web secure, build the cloud infra of the future, or make devs 100x more efficient.

But your customers/prospects of today want what you have today if you do self-served PLG or what you will have ~12 months if you focus on enterprise.

When they get to your homepage they want to understand:

  • what does the product do explained in the terms THEY understand

  • how is it different than other options on the market including them building it themselves

Going clear, simple, and real is the way to go on the homepage.

Unless you are at the stage when you should focus on investors (when you are public or pre-IPO) and employees (present and future). Do it then. But now focus on helping devs adpot it and sell it internally to the team lead or CTO.

2. How to launch a dev tool on Hacker News

After one of the recent advising calls I figured I’d put together my thoughts on doing a Launch/Show HN for a dev tool.

Here is a TLDR.

Style:

  • “Talk to HN as fellow builders and engineers. Imagine you're having a drink with a friend you used to work with.”

  • “Don't use superlatives (fastest, biggest, first, best). Modest language is stronger.”

  • “Don't sell to this audience. Interest them, then let them sell themselves.”

Product/Offer:

  • Give people an easy way to try it out. Remove all barriers possible.

  • “Make your pricing transparent.”

Format of the announcement:

  • introduce yourselves

  • say in one clear sentence what your company does

  • explain the problem: how is it hard? why does it matter?

  • tell your backstory of how you came to work on this

  • explain your solution, giving technical details

  • explain what's different about your solution, giving technical details

  • invite the community to share feedback

How to comment/answer:

  • Be ready to answer comments. And quickly. 

  • Make sure your friends DON’T post booster comments.

  • Go deep into details. Remember HN crowd is curious. 

  • “Answer objections by first finding something to agree with, even if it's just the positive intention.”

  • “When criticized, act like the critics are doing you a favor. "

On top of it, I’d add the following tips to increase your chance of success:

  • HN crowd likes open-source, privacy-first products. If you are an "open-source alternative to X", say it right there

  • Make the title crystal clear and explicit. It should be obvious right from away what you've built.

  • Link out to the GitHub repo. This makes your "offer" more HN dev audience-centric by design.

In the article, I also review the best Launch HN ever and show more examples from top/bottom HN launch/show in the past years.

3. 1-2-3 how-to section from Appsmith

How easy it is to get started is a big conversion factor for any dev tool.

Devs want to test things out and if it is hard to do they will be gone testing a competitor that made it easy.

And so a good how-to section on your homepage can make a big difference in getting devs to that first experience.

Appsmith does it beautifully with their 1-2-3 How-to section:

  • 1-2-3 format: Connect data -> Drag and drop -> Customize with code

  • Interactive GIFs with code snippets and UI elements

  • CTAs to integrations, widget library, and docs

  • Dev testimonial at the end to make it real

It is so engaging and just beautifully designed. And the CTA to additional resources like integrations, widget library, and docs make the message land. I do believe it is easy to set this up.

Great pattern to copy-paste imho.

Need more developer marketing insights?

1. Work with me

Every week I have a few slots for:

  • Workshops: Whatever you can squeeze in 60 minutes.

    We can talk strategy/tactics, do brainstorms/live roasts, or debug your challenges together.

  • Teardowns: I run a ~90min audit of your homepage/messaging/blog/ads/socials. And send you a ~30min video with my thoughts/suggestions and the audit doc.

  • Advising: Weekly/biweekly coaching sessions and/or async work like reviews, audits, research, or planning.

2. Join our Slack community

1500+ dev tool CMOs, heads of growth, product marketers, and other practitioners talking about things like this:

3. Bonus links to check out

Join the conversation

or to participate.