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Winning a Reviewer's Attention

I get requests from software developers asking me to review a software product that they've developed and are now marketing (in fact, I'm following up on one of those products now). I recognize that the choice of what we review here is essentially capricious. We are driven by what we think developers are interested in and what's happening in the Visual Studio/.NET toolspace. But selecting the next product to review is hardly a scientific process and, if something interesting turns up, we'll follow up on it.

The problem is that most of the requests that I get from independent developers don't sound interesting. Many of the requests I get don't do a good job of making what I think of the "value proposition" -- they don't tell me why a developer would care about this product.

Essentially, what I do get are a lot of technical specs but no explanation of why anyone would want to spend money on the product. After reading the request, I don't know how a developer would benefit from buying the product. Actually (as I pointed in an earlier blog), while I get lots of technical specs, I often can't figure out what the product does.

A variation on these patterns is a request to review a "me too" product: one that sounds a whole lot like some other product (and, often, like components of Visual Studio). The request might mention some technical feature that other products don't have. But, again, it's not clear to me why this additional technical feature has value to developers.

So, if you want to attract the attention of a customer (or a reviewer) you have to stop thinking like a product developer. You have to abandon what helps you create a great product and start thinking like a customer. Only once you're thinking like a customer can you figure out what, in the customer's eyes, makes your product valuable. And that's what you need to talk about -- that's what will make your product interesting.

And, while you're thinking like a customer, remember that the customer won't know what your product does until you tell them.

Posted by Peter Vogel on 07/16/2010

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