Workshop and Lightning Talk deadline extension & introducing Lightning Talkeoke

Stop wasting your time sending apologetic emails about being late to submit your Lightning Talk and Workshop ideas for Business of Software. We are a pretty easy going bunch so we have given you a little more time to get your ideas in. Please submit to by midnight PST on 14th August.

To get your creative juices flowing, watch, and for the first time ever, read along to, last year’s winning talk from Patrick McKenzie, @patio11

Here is the full transcript of Patrick’s talk if you want to indulge in a bit of Lighting Talkeoke:

[Music] Good afternoon everybody, my name is Patrick McKenzie and I’m a software engineer from central Japan. Yes, I’m exactly as geeky as you probably think I am. [Laughter]

I’m going to be talking to you today about software for underserved markets. There’s many underserved markets in the world, there’s people with disabilities, non-technical customers, people outside the United States of America. [Laughter] There’s . . . [Laughter] It’s true. There’s one market in particular, it’s gigantic and I think most of us are missing it so I want to address that market and I want to address them directly.

One, two, hello ladies. [Laughter] Look at your marketing director, now look at me. Now back at your marketing director, now back at me. Sadly he isn’t me but if he had spent the last four years selling Bingo card creation software to elementary schoolteachers, most of whom are over the age of forty five and female, maybe he could sell like he’s me.

Hands ready. Hands up if over 80 percent of your customers are women. One, two hands. I thought there would be three. [Laughter]

Hands ready. Hands up if over 80 percent of your customers are men. Look around. This is the competition. Why would you compete against all of these savvy operators when by the simple expedient of selling software to women too you could swan dive into a blue ocean where there are no competitors and every day is like shaking a money tree? [Applause]

Where are you? You’re in a presentation listening to the man your man could sell like. What’s that in your hand? I have it, it’s two customers for that software you sell.


You have big, fat, white guy who buys B to B software and young, thin, white guy who steals B to C software.

Raise your hands if you make software for young, thin white guy anyhow? [Laughter] See a room full of savvy operators, Monaco smile.

But is the software market really this non-diverse? No.

Some of the hottest software companies that you’ve heard of and the hottest technology companies sell primarily to female markets. There are several examples. One, Groupon sells to a technically savvy young people who have lots of money and love spending it. You don’t have a problem monetizing these people. On the other end of the scale there’s FarmVille. You’ve probably heard of it, if you haven’t Aunt Millie, you didn’t respond, her cow died, you don’t love her enough but they are making money hand over fist. [Laughter] Another example from the hometown heroes there’s a company called Cookpad and they do recipes. Cookpad has one of the best customer penetration stories I’ve ever heard. One of my friends went to their CEO at a meeting and said, “Hey, I think my wife might enjoy using your service.” The CEO looked at him and said, “If she’s Japanese, she already does.” [Laughter] Anything’s possible when your market penetration is approaching that of having children. [Laughter]

So why is it that we are so myopic about the possible audience for making software? Is it because, well look around in the room, there seem to be a lot of gentlemen here? No. Procter and Gamble in the 1960’s managed to sell more soap to more women at $1.69 a bottle than we sell soap to women when our costs about $600,000 and installation. And they had a marketing team which was a little more manner and a little more menner than we are. So it’s not just the demographics. Why do we suck at selling to women? It’s because we suck at selling to pretty much everyone. [Laughter]

And we think that if we just take the plan that works for our one audience, geeks and we drizzle a bit of pink paint on it we will be able to sell to women. And that just doesn’t work. We need to fundamentally reevaluate how we do marketing and how we do sales so that we can reach markets outside of our target audience of the techie geekiness. For example, ten second gift of air, oh no. [Laughter]

For example, I should have practiced this more, you’ve all heard that features don’t sell software, benefits don’t sell software but if I look at the top of your website, right now, do I find features.html? Features should 404. And when you write features, they aren’t good features. They probably look something like this. They’re boring. Because software is boring. Users find users to be pretty darn interesting. They have to be themselves for about, oh, 24 hours a day but they use your software for about three minutes. Instead of selling software on features, you should sell it on benefits. Tell the customer a story.

I want to tell you a story about Mr. Taylor. He’s absolutely real. He works at a hard school in Washington, D.C. Mr. Taylor was written about in “Atlantic Magazine,” because Mr. Taylor is awesome. When poor kids go to his school, poor kids are shaking in their seats to learn about math. Shaking in their seats.

Mr. Taylor got written about in “Atlantic Magazine” because Mr. Taylor’s interesting. His kids got written about because his kids are interesting. The software didn’t get written about because software is fundamentally boring. And trust me, if you saw my sales chart for the day you’d want to not be written about in “Atlantic Magazine” too.

Now if you want to troll an engineer, tell him that Google is an advertising company just because they make 97 percent of their revenue from advertising. But is Google really an advertising company? No Google is a company that does what it does for its users. And what it does is it makes their users sound intelligent. You could ask me what the Battle of Sekigahara is. I spent a $120,000 on an E Station Studies degree, I have no clue but I know I can Google it really quick so I sound intelligent.

What business are you in? Are you in the software business? No that’s just the monetization engine for the emotion business.

You need to connect your brand, your company, your experience of using the software to what your customers value. What your customers value isn’t using software, it isn’t bullet points, it isn’t XML, GPL, I don’t know, it’s making a change in the life they are living. They want to feel loved. They want to feel successful. They want to experience the new life that you will offer them as a result of using your software.

So do you have a screenshot on your website? Why, the software is boring. The customer is interesting, so show the customer on your website. This is my new adventure and the response rate from ladies in particular went way up when I put the successful business woman on the website and she thought that if I just use the software I would be a successful business woman too. People have asked me to buy this. It doesn’t even exist yet. [Laughter] Nice problem to have, right?

So if you’re making an emotional connection to your customers, you might try something like TechCrunch would summarize this like, “It’s like YouTube except for knitters.” But really they don’t care about being able to upload photos of knitting even though they’ve done it about 8 terabytes worth. Yes, 8 terabytes of knitting videos. [Laughter] They care about knitting. They care about making beautiful things and sharing beautiful things with their friends and this website, it’s ballsier than anything I would ever do and it says, “Share the joy of creation.”

There’s many other ideas for selling software to women. You can see some of them on the Bingo card. Don’t try to read it, you’ll go blind, but you can find the slides on my blog later today. Talk to me about this subject. I love speaking about it and I’m on a horse.