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by: Bernard Teo

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Sun 24 Jun 2007

Ideas Made To Stick

Category : Commentary/MadeToStick.txt

I got this message the other day from a guy called Martin. I like getting mail like these, especially when it's also laced with humour, but also because it helps point me towards what I need to do next. It's not just computer programming that's needed to build this site, but also writing, story-telling, presentation and design skills - it requires multiple intelligences - and you must want to be interested in developing all these to be enjoying doing this, day in and day out. So here's the message from Martin :

Your other software looks interesting but I can't figure out what it does. I bet you are losing thousands of sales because you aren't offering specific solutions to problems. A customer is always looking for a solution to a problem, so that's what you should offer. If you just offer software and state what it does in techno-speak, only geeks will buy it. Here's what I see on your site:

You: "MailCrap helps Mac users set up a totally buzzword-compliant exygon blickser in less than a minute, the Mac Way. It sets up XDRW, DAD3, FMAP and Ditchmail services, including support for XYZ and PJKT authentication."

Me: "WTF ????". [Note from Bernard : imagine that said in a British accent :-)]

Examples of customer requirements:

"I often take my MacBook on holiday but I can't seem to send email. I can receive it OK so why can't I send? What do I need to buy from you that will guarantee I can always send email?"

"When I go to a meeting I need to access files on my computer at home. But it is connected via a router. I've tried "Chicken of the NBC" and "Remote Crapper" but I'm darned if I can access it. I'd settle for accessing just one shared folder if that's all that's possible. What do I need to buy from you?"

"I don't want to subscribe to .mac. It's too expensive. I already have a domain name and a web server (or I already have a G4 at home that never goes to sleep). I just want to synchronise my Safari bookmarks and my Address Book on 3 computers. So what do I need to buy from you that will do the same job?"

Do you see what I mean? Your products might do a lot more than I require but you don't actually say so in language that I (and 99.999% of Mac users) can understand.

BTW the above examples are genuine requirements. I could use those and so could many other Mac users.

Best Wishes,

Martin (age 56)

Well, I know, too, there's a lot that can be done along these lines. Yeah, right, after I've figured out how to get SASLDB working (yet) again on Leopard ;-) But, seriously, those suggestions make sense. And I'd have wanted to be a writer or designer in other lives. So it's not like it's going to be all hard work. I would enjoy improving those pages. I just need to find the time.

But that's the great thing about being a so-called "free-agent". Life doesn't suddenly become a bed of roses but you do get to design your own ultimate, unique, one-size-fits-one job specs.

Just so happens that I'm also now reading a couple of books - "Ideas Made to Stick - Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die" and "The Medici Effect - What Elephants and Epidemics Can Teach Us About Innovation". They're hugely relevant, within the context of the things I've just discussed. There's a whole world out there that is bigger than IT and programming. And they're all intersecting in strange, novel, and wondrous ways. Can only happen in this age. Couldn't possibly have happened before we've had computers and the Internet.

Posted at 8:35AM UTC | permalink

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