Ah yes, the Business of Software Conference. We’re pretty spoiled here at Axosoft, our company generously offers every employee the opportunity to attend one all-expense-paid conference per year. This year, 6 of us decided to fly eastbound to the great seaside city of Boston for BoS Conference. If you aren’t bothered by an amateur’s enthusiasm, this lovely little video I put together (with the help of my mobile device) should provide a peek into the experience. Otherwise, keep scrolling to indulge in some highlights.
Let your outcomes drive your dev
We unanimously agreed that the conference kicked off with a bang! Tony Ulwick of Strategyn shared his experience identifying, developing, and acting on the needs of a given market. Whether it was planned or by chance, this customer-need focus became the recurring theme of the conference.
How often have you seen products that were painstakingly designed completely die in the market? Tony cited his time working on IBM’s PC Jr. and how quickly the Wall Street Journal declared the product a flop. He came to understand that if the needs of the market are being over-served or adequately served, there is very little opportunity for your new product to gain traction. It’s a simple premise, yet how do you determine what needs are under-served without gambling on your assumptions? Tony was kind enough to provide some direction: data.
If this graph doesn’t immediately speak to you don’t worry, I’ll break it down. Each data point represents a pre-determined needs statement. Something like “Minimize the time to cook mashed potatoes to eat for Thanksgiving.” Each needs statement is then rated via a survey in terms of importance and satisfaction on a 1 to 5 scale. Once you have this data, you take the average of the results, plot them against each other and voila! You now know what needs are underserved without having to guess.
Stop Saying Nothing
Joanna Wiebe Conversion Copywriter at Copy Hackers, was another one of our favorite speakers. Wiebe’s talk, titled “Writing non-sucky copy for websites, marketing collateral and newsletters” challenged those of us in the audience to stop saying nothing. Wait, really? But we worked so hard on what we wrote for our website! Or… did we?
Wiebe described the tendency for the average organization to write boring, unimaginative website copy that fails to communicate how they meet customers’ needs. She gave the audience an example of copy written on the websites of two rehab centers in Florida (one company I can’t remember because the copy was so boring so I just picked one at random to show below – point proven) compared to the second, more interesting example of copy she wrote for Beachway Therapy Center (also below).
Whoa. That second one. It’s simple yet it effectively communicates what you would be looking for as someone who needs rehab. How did Wiebe conjure this up? Luckily she shared a few helpful suggestions for the novice copy writers out there.
Wiebe wanted to understand how people seeking rehab speak. What words do they use? What phrases do they use? These two questions immediately presented a major challenge: interviewing individuals looking for rehab is neither feasible nor effective. So, she turned to the treasure trove of Amazon reviews available for rehab books. By reading through the reviews, she was able to pick up on the ethos of her audience. These are people in pain and in need of help. With this knowledge she rewrote all the copy for this rehab center in the example above, and it made for quite a striking impression.
Another thing to consider when writing copy for your site or marketing materials, is to think about ways to add notes of flair. Take advantage of your vocabulary and do something pleasantly unexpected. Wiebe’s advice was to always be clear and concise first, then focus on letting your copy speak to your readers.
There were so many other amazing speakers at the conference, and this blog post won’t be enough to cover them. For those of you perusing this blog to learn more about the speakers at BoS, please visit their site to learn all about the goodness they bring to the software industry.
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