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Keeping it simple is easy to say but difficult to do

Focus on the outcome

Focus on the outcome

Several years ago when working for one of the world’s largest software companies, I was having a conversation with a colleague whose background was software development but who was now in marketing. He was extolling the virtues of the latest version of the company’s software development tools.

It was interesting to a point, and I pointed out that I was probably not the best person to try and excite about the details because I was far more interested in what the tools did rather than how they did it. He was shocked at my attitude. I remember the look on his face. His expression looked as though I had just blasphemed. How could I work in that company and not be interested in the nuts and bolts of the ‘how’ of the software rather than the ‘what’ of the results of using the software?

The advertisements of the time for that product had a theme of moon landings and a line which went something like “Just imagine what could have been done in 1969 when getting those now famous Americans onto the moon if they had this product“.

The problem with that campaign was that most people who would be using the software were not trying to get astronauts to the moon. Most software developers wanted to do far more basic things in their daily work lives and do them slightly faster than previously possible. The launch of that version of the product was a flop and it took them another two to three years with the launch of a new version and more down to earth ambitions for the product to take off (if you’ll excuse the pun).

This story is commonplace in businesses which have technical products. Often, the technical people become wrapped up in splendid details and features but become detached from why their customers would benefit from them. That’s basic sales and marketing knowledge but it is surprising just how much it continues to happen.

Last night I ran a presentation at the Hull Digital networking event about 2-D codes which is a technology that enables people to scan a code on, say, a poster using their mobile phone which then might take them to a mobile web site, or which will dial a number for them, or send a text message.

This is all very well, but I focused on the opportunity that the technology represents rather than the technology itself in my presentation. 2-D codes happen to be good at connecting offline marketing (e.g. an ad in a magazine) to online resources (e.g. a mobile web site). But the opportunity which is more interesting is, for example, that of enabling two different companies with different specialisations in marketing to work together in partnership to offer clients new solutions.

This is approach is far easier for people to comprehend than an approach which talks about features. I know you need people who are good at understanding the features of a product or service. I couldn’t do my job without a team of expert web developers who know how it works. But clients don’t care too much about the ins and outs of a product. They just want to know if you can help, what the outcome will look like and when you can do it by.

It’s simple to understand, but often people forget to do it and end up losing opportunities to help their clients and to gain new ones.

Men prefer websites designed by men

Men like their web sites designed by men

Men like their web sites designed by men

It does seem like you can take man out of the cave but you can’t take the cave out of man, even when it comes to web sites. This is good to know if you know your audience well and you have designed your web site according to your market. Here’s an interesting article on this subject.

Men prefer websites designed by men – Telegraph http://ow.ly/krt6