whitepaper - a software marketing report that gives prospects and customers information that can help them purchase your software.
Whitepapers are also called research reports or technical briefs.
As a general rule, reading whitepapers is work. White papers are supposed to be serious. They're rich in text, with the odd illustration to break up the words and make the pages more inviting. According to Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman, the authors of Content Rules, whitepapers are written by experts who talk down to you (versus eBooks which are written on more of a peer-to-peer basis.)
Why We Buy
"Why We Buy - The Science of Shopping" - a book by Paco Underhill.
Paco Underhill's book is about how people buy items in retail stores. But the lessons that he teaches us apply to software marketing on the Internet, too.
Tiny changes to a store's layout can make huge differences in sales. Changing signs can increase or decrease sales. Lots!
It stands to reason that the same principles apply to software developers' website layouts.
Here's an example - Underhill was hired by a dog food company to find out how to increase sales. He discovered that mom buys most of the dog food. But dog treats are bought by children and grandparents.
Dog food of all sorts is often stored on high shelves, where most adults can access it. But seniors and children have problems with high shelves. By moving treats where kids and grandmothers can reach them, the company instantly increased sales.
That's what software developers need to do, too - Observe how people buy, and make it easier and more attractive for people to buy more software.
Brand names are not the powerful force they used to be, Underhill tells us. Branding and traditional advertising continue to have some influence over people's buying choices, but it's not the way it used to be.
This is great news for independent software vendors (ISVs). It means that ISVs can compete with the well-known, well-capitalized software companies.
Taking away from the influence of branding are things like signage, shelf position, display space, and fixtures. And each of these items has its Internet-based equivalents that software developers have to understand and use effectively.
Underhill's clients include Saks Fifth Avenue, The Gap, Hallmark, The US Postal Service, Wal-Mart, and Starbucks. But you don't have to pay his company tens of thousands of dollars to learn how to sell more software. Instead, you can spend a few fun hours reading his book. I highly recommend it.
winning - Achieving your goals.
Winning is not about doing better than somebody else. It's about setting challenging goals, planning a way to achieve them, working hard, and succeeding.
Words Fail Me
"Words Fail Me - What Everyone Who Writes Should Know About Writing" - a book by Patricia T. O'Conner.
This is the second book by Patricia O'Conner that I've read and enjoyed. The first book which I read was, "Woe is I", a great way to learn English grammar.
"Words Fail Me" is a painless way to learn to write better. The author was an editor at the New York Times Book Review. She writes well. And she explains simply and clearly how everybody - including software developers - can write better.
O'Conner believes that writing well is a craft that can be learned. She calls "Words Fail Me" a "user's manual for words".
Good writing is writing that works - writing that makes sense. This book presents the rules of writing. You don't have to follow the rules every time you write. But you need to know the rules, and only break them knowingly.
Every topic can be explained clearly in simple English. If you can't explain something, O'Conner suggests that maybe you don't understand it completely.
I'm confident that developers understand their software completely. But perhaps they don't always understand their target audience's needs. Still, O'Conner suggests that if your writing is unclear, perhaps your thinking is unclear. We all benefit from thinking more about our subject matter before we begin writing.
There are painful ways to learn to write better. This isn't one of them. This book is fun, and you'll learn a lot. I recommend it strongly.
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