Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Marketing for Perlers

Sources on the intertubes report that marketing is becoming a hot topic around the Perl community. It might be a good time to learn a bit about that subject and perhaps exchange some recommendations. I don't want to retract anyone from hiring a professional marketer, to the contrary I think this is the mature thing to do. We need to admit that our own knowledge in that area is limited and seek professional help. But learning a bit more will not hurt.

The book that I would like to recommend is Made to Stick. Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die ... - it is about creating messages that will be remembered. It is build around a simple list:

  • Simple
  • Unexpected
  • Concrete
  • Credible
  • Emotional
  • Stories

these are the ingredients of an effective marketing message (and yeah the first letters do form an mnemotechnic acronym).

The message needs to be simple, so that the basics are easily understood and can be easily spread around. I think this will be well understood to programmers. It is not about dumbing it down - it is about finding the real core. It needs to be unexpected to catch peoples attention. To hold attention the book advices to use curiosity gaps. Next quality is concrete - this is about involving things the audience already knows well, tangible things and painting a mental image. Credibility comes from inside or from an outside authority, inside credibility comes from using vivid details, statistics but also can be gained by inviting the audience to test for themselves. Emotional is about speaking to emotions. Finally the best messages are stories - the power of story telling comes from the fact that that people reach the conclusions for themselves and they easily absorb them as their own.

Apparently this was tested by the ads business:

The final group was trained for two hours on how to use the six creative templates. Once again, the fifteen best ads were selected by the creative director and tested with consumers. Suddenly these novices sprouted creativity. Their ads were rated as 50 percent more creative and produced a 55 percent more positive attitude toward the products advertised. This is a stunning improvement for a two-hour investment in learning a few basic templates! It appears that there are indeed systematic ways to produce creative ideas.

from excerpts.


mo said...

I'm sick of all those marketing blog entries. We all now that Perl sucks at marketing but no one is taking action.

The hole http://*.perl.org namespace consists of ugly looking pages (except perldoc.perl.org which looks just great!). Every time I visit use.perl or perlmonks I feel like I'm back at the beginning of the internet.

Times New Roman, really?

I bet if any of the maintainers of such sites would ask for people do to an redesign, there would be some reaction to it. But no one is asking for it!

szabgab said...

Things move a lot slower than I'd like them to move but there is some progress. See 2009Q3 Grant Proposal: Improve the visual design of Perl websites

Pm said...

mo: You definitely should comment on http://news.perlfoundation.org/2009/08/2009q3_grant_proposal_improve.html then.


zby said...

Thanks for the comments. One thing I now see I should have added to the blog post is that marketing is much more than visual design. But I do appreciate the grant proposal - it goes in the right direction for sure. We'll see how effective it will be with the site owners - there is the danger of the same thing as described in http://use.perl.org/~kid51/journal/39349

But anyway I am hoping to get some nice designs for Catalyst::Example::InstantCRUD and HTML::FormHandler forms.

mo said...

Thanks for the link!

I had this site not yet on my radar.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with mo, I get the same feeling when I visit Perl websites. I've never even considered perl.org a proper website, rather a placeholder with some content. Much like linux.com was before it was redesigned.