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Testers Should Think Like Marketeers

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Testers should be sharing stories and talking about the things they care about, to get people interested in what they are doing. The future of testing needs testers to think like marketeers, argues Rosie Sherry. They can start by making something, for example a blog, article, talk, or video, and share it.

Rosie Sherry, founder of the Ministry of Testing, spoke about why and how testers should act as marketeers at the European Testing Conference 2017. InfoQ is covering this conference with Q&As, summaries and articles.

Testers should be sharing stories instead of being defensive and reactive, said Sherry. We wonder and complain about people saying testing is dead or unimportant. But what are we, as testers, doing about it? Testers should find the energy and time to go out and talk about the things they care about.

Sherry presented a modified version of Seth Godin’s marketing in four steps, where the main purpose is to share ideas and lead the change. This is how she approaches marketing:

  1. Have an idea
  2. Make something
  3. Get excited and share your story
  4. Do the work. It will probably take a long time
  5. Then evolve it, or move on
    Not all ideas turn out to be good ideas.

How can testers come up with stories? Sherry suggested to look and take inspiration from things that are happening around you: be curious about your team, support them and try to understand them, support your business, and show up. In her talk she provided many ideas on how to go about this; here are some examples from her presentation:

  • Invite yourself to meetings
  • Find and share helpful things
  • Find out how you can make the life of your team members easier
  • Imagine you where the CEO
  • Write and talk
  • Be helpful

You have to go first, then others will follow, said Sherry. You can start for instance by developing habits to help you towards a place you’d like to be, show that you care about things, and connect with others.

People sometimes will say that they don’t know what to talk or write about. If you look deeply enough, then you will find topics, said Sherry. Stories can start from inspiration, frustration, questions, solutions, and many other things.

Sherry suggested to start by making something, for example a blog, article, talk, or video, and share it. You might find it difficult,she said. One possibility she mentioned to make it easier is to build on top of others people’s work.

Sherry stated: "I challenge you to infiltrate the web with goodness." She suggested that testers should have a growing mindset, and think about simple clever things that they can do to communicate better.

InfoQ spoke with Rosie Sherry after her talk.

InfoQ: How can storytelling help communities grow?

Rosie Sherry: I’m not really an expert on storytelling; I can say that to help communities grow we need to share our stories in ethical and open ways. To be able to do this we need to exist in an environment where people feel safe to do so.

It is easy to forget that everyone is at a different stage of their life. I don’t think much about publishing an article. For others, it is such a massive deal. We all need to appreciate this.

There are two main things that I think are important in relation to communities and storytelling:

  • We all have important stories to share - many of us think we don’t, but we do. We just need to get better at telling them.
  • We should be supporting each other in the stories we tell - instead of trying to find the negatives or failures in them, we should seek out the positivities. We should lift testers up, build their confidence and help them become better versions of who they are.

InfoQ: You mentioned that it can be hard to create something that can be shared. What can people do to make it easier for themselves?

Sherry: Testers should start by making things. It’s all about practicing and evolving. They can start real slow. Tweeting something can be considered as making something. Then building upon that. Develop your voice. Start to understand who you are and what you want to represent. Try writing an article. Perhaps then start a website. Further down the line maybe consider creating a product or business.

I personally take inspiration from many different places. I look beyond the testing and tech world for inspiration and see if they are relevant to the testing world we live in.

Creating things is of immense value. Personally and to the community around us. We can learn actively by creating things, we can learn in real time. Then we can adapt as we see fit.

Making things is hard and I believe that testers will develop empathy and understand if they can create a habit of making things themselves. There is no magic solution to making something successful or shareable. We need to learn to improve our craft and what it takes to get others interested in what we are doing.

InfoQ: If testers want to share their experiences and learn from other testers, where can they go?

Sherry: I feel testers should be contributing more to the technology communities that exist out there. I often feel like we exist in our own little bubble, participating in niche communities, yet not showing people in the tech world that we exist.

I’d recommend that people get on the following to start reading and contributing:

  • Reddit: various channels, including software testing, quality assurance, programming. Also, just find a niche relevant to you to start talking and sharing about testing related issues.
  • Medium: this platform is becoming more popular. Write on it. Or find people who are writing on it. Get involved. Comment. Contribute.
  • Quora: there are people on Quora asking questions about software testing. Many of them don’t have good answers to them. This is an opportunity to us as testers. Get on there. Ask questions, answer questions!

In addition to the above, I admit, I generally have a big bias to the work I do. In my opinion there are not enough people doing positive things for the software testing world. I wish more people would step up. I’m biased and I recommend people check out the Ministry of Testing. There is The Dojo (full of articles, videos, 30 day challenges, podcasts and more), a Ministry of Testing slack, a generic testing community slack and even a forum. On top of this we work locally with testers to bring you events in many locations. This all happens by us working closely with many testers in a collaborative way to try to make things happen. I hope to see you there!

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