Telling your Grandma about Mobile Apps: My Top 5 Take-Aways from SXSW

SXSW15LogoWhat a weekend! It was my first #SXSW experience, although I’ve been dying to go for about 15 years. The crowds, the people-watching, the #meerkat live streams, #uber pedicabs and marketers everywhere — it was Vegas in Texas for nerds and I loved it! Our team spent the weekend talking to amazing people about our new company news app Jive Daily and new messaging app Jive Chime in the Marketo Engagement Lounge. It was invigorating to show these apps after months in development, and get feedback from hundreds of new people.

But where I learned the most was in the breakout sessions. Innovators in technology, media and even the military discussed topics from wearables and the future of mobile, to women leaders in the Marine Corps, to how to pitch your product to Mario Armstrong on the Today Show in 140 characters or less.

Here are my top 5 take-aways from #SXSW2015.

(1) Know your audience. As marketers, we should have this one down cold; but I was surprised at the number of people who don’t do their homework, and continue to pitch blindly. Mario Armstrong recounted an example in which, despite his VERY clear voice mail greeting stating he doesn’t check his voice mail, a marketer pitched for a minute in his voice mail. #fail. We need to go back to grade school and remember to follow directions!

(2) Build products that “lead with life.” Basically, build products that put your audience at the center, like the way that our apps allow people to leverage their preferred #workstyles — the set of habits that enable them to do their best work.

Nana Julie(3) Be able to describe your product to your grandmother. Keep it simple; no jargon; get it down to 140 characters.
(4) Mobile isn’t just about the phone; it’s a state of being. … Oh yeah, and wearables. I think we’ve already embraced mobile as an appendage, an extension of our being. In fact, we’re moving toward work/life “integration,” so we want to build and use products that work with how we prefer to work.

(5) Lastly, how does technology adapt to us, rather than us adapting to technology? For too long, we’ve changed our workstyles based on the dictates of a tool or technology. It’s time to put the human element back in the driver’s seat!

The weekend was a whirlwind. I lost my voice multiple times, and learned more than I could have imagined interacting with all the great minds in Austin. I’m excited and emboldened about being a part of the movement to build apps and tools that adapt to the way our audiences prefer to work rather than forcing users to learn yet another tool to get their jobs done. Let’s be part of the #workstyle revolution and connect, communicate and collaborate the way we want to on mobile — er, in our daily lives.

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