Community Help on a Marketing Message?

I’m in the process of writing marketing copy for a series of public classes that Dale Emery and I will be offering on April 22 – 24 in Pleasanton, CA and April 28 – 30 in Portland, OR.

(I am also still working on getting the registration system to bend to my will, so you can’t register just yet. I’ll post something here when the registration system finally goes live…soon, soon…)


I was wondering if I could impose on the collective wisdom of the general community to help me hone my message?

First, some background…

The classes are a 3-day series of Agile Testing related classes.

  • Day 1 is “Adapting to Agile,” also known as The WordCount Simulation.
  • Day 2 is “Acceptance Test Driven Development (ATDD) in Practice”
  • Day 3 is “Exploratory Testing in an Agile Context”

The classes can be taken individually, or in combination.

From a marketing perspective, I want to include a little Question and Answer style blurb about what days someone should plan to take. For example:

I’m in a QA/QE/Testing group, and my organization is adopting Agile. This is all new to me. Where should I start?

We strongly recommend that you take all three classes in this series.

The first day, “Adapting to Agile,” will give you an opportunity to experience an Agile transformation and see how the whole team (not just testers) adapts testing-related activities as the context changes. Along the way, you’ll learn how test activities can support Agility by increasing visibility and feedback. And you’ll learn how to spot waste and focus on customer value in testing.

The second day, “Acceptance Test Driven Development (ATDD) in Practice,” will give you an understanding of how test specialists can contribute throughout the development cycle. ATDD might also address the concerns you might have around how you’ll be able to derive tests without having requirements documents.

The third day, “Exploratory Testing in an Agile Context,” will teach you about applying Session-Based Exploratory Testing as part of a sprint or iteration. It will also answer concerns you might have around how an Agile team tests for the risks and vulnerabilities that are not covered by the automated tests.

And as long as I’m doing that, I wanted to extend the idea to include questions and answers aimed at convincing team members that Agile Testing classes aren’t just for testers. To that end, I wrote the following:

I’m a Developer. Are these classes just for testers?

Nope! We want you to participate! Please join us!

As a Developer on an Agile team, you contribute a great deal to the testing-related activities. These classes will help you learn how to collaborate with testers and business stakeholders on various testing-related activities to ensure that the whole team is getting the feedback they need to keep the project moving forward. These classes also might help you convince other people in your organization that testing activities are a shared responsibility on an Agile team.

I’m a Business Analyst/Product Owner/XP Customer. Should I come to these classes? If so, which one?

If you are responsible for defining what the software should do on an Agile project, then you are also ultimately responsible for accepting the software. And yet you don’t have time to test it thoroughly by yourself. You need the help and support of the technical team to be sure when you accept software that it meets your expectations. The practice of Acceptance Test Driven Development is particularly important for that. So if you can come to only one day of these classes, we recommend you come for Day 2, the ATDD class.

If you can come to two days, we recommend that you also take the “Adapting to Agile” class because it will allow you to explore the connection between stories and acceptance tests in a microcosm.

Of course, if you can come for all three days we think you’ll find it very worthwhile. The third day on Exploratory Testing will give you ideas for ways to explore the emerging system to ensure that it really does meet your needs.

Really? I should sign up? But I’m not in QA, and I’m not a Tester. I’m a …

Please excuse us for interrupting.

We hear this a lot: “Great! You have an Agile Testing class! I’ll send my QA department!” There is an unfortunate implicit assumption that the only people who have to worry about testing are the designated Testers or QA people.

In an Agile context, everyone tests.

So no matter what role you play, if you have a role on an Agile team, you have some testing-related responsibilities. Whether you are an Architect, Developer, Database Designer, UI Designer, Technical Writer, Product Owner, Scrum Master, XP Customer, Tester, QA Manager, Quality Engineer, SDET, Build Meister, Configuration Manager, Team Lead, Test Lead, Development Manager, etc., if you’re working on an Agile team that delivers software, you need to know how testing activities in Agile help move the project forward. And you need to be prepared to play your part in ensuring that the software is adequately tested before calling it “Done.”

And by the way, if you are thinking, “I’m not a tester, so I don’t need these classes,” then you REALLY need these classes to find out what you’re missing.

Before I publish all this prose as part of the marketing materials, I would really like some community feedback. What do you think? Is it worth publishing this kind of thing? Is that last little bit too harsh? Too annoying? Is it convincing? What would make it more convincing?

Thanks for any feedback you care to give me.


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5 Responses to Community Help on a Marketing Message?

  1. Geni Whitehouse February 12, 2009 at 6:45 pm #

    I think your content is perfect.

    I love the questions and the tone of the responses. As a former Product Manager, I would have loved to be involved this kind of training so I could know what to expect from the developers. I know a number of people who have been involved with a transition to Agile – and while the developers get a bunch of training, everyone else tends to be left in the dark and get handed a one hour PowerPoint to review.

    Your class is going to be packed.

    Elisabeth replies:

    Thanks for your kind words! Given that you’re in the business of helping organizations communicate their message clearly and effectively, your compliment is high praise indeed! (And I hope your prediction is right…)

  2. William Pietri February 12, 2009 at 7:02 pm #

    Hi, Elizabeth! I’m glad to offer my two cents.

    I think it is definitely worth publishing, although in naturally shouldn’t be the primary material; toward the bottom or via a FAQ link would be good. I don’t think it’s too sassy, although I might redo the last question to not do the interruption thing. I like the style, and find it engaging.

    Two suggestions: could you convey the same content by cutting out 15-20% of the words? With marketing copy, punchier is usually better.

    Also, have you considered applying any of Jakob Nielsen’s guidelines on writing for the web to this? That would make it more skimmable, which is usually better on the web.

    Elisabeth replies:

    Thanks William! I’ll work on shortening and punching it up a little. And many many thanks for reference to Nielsen’s Writing for the Web. Awesome resource! (Had only previously see the F-shaped pattern stuff…)

  3. Glen Ivey February 12, 2009 at 8:00 pm #

    > Is it worth publishing this kind of thing?

    I think so–I’m almost always in favor of more text. I don’t think that concerns about “talking past the close” apply online as much as they do in the real world. And if you are worried about that sort of thing, put a “go to signup” link after each couple of paragraphs.

    > Is that last little bit too harsh?

    Nah. If we like opinionated software, what’s not to like about an opinionated instructor? But, if you do decide to cut back on the last section, try to keep the line “In an Agile context, everyone tests.” Or maybe move it up.

    I think the latter sections give an overall human tone to the material. Any thought about adding a “question” from a tester or developer that already “knows it all”?

    Elisabeth replies:

    Thanks for your comments! As for a “question” from someone who is experience, yup, I plan to do that too. Just need to write that bit 🙂

  4. Drew McManus February 12, 2009 at 9:47 pm #

    This is great, Elisabeth. I agree with the previous comments. As you revise, I would punch harder on the benefits of attendance for the non-QA people.

    Quality is the job of everyone on the team. For engineers, better tests mean higher quality code, which means more time writing and less time fixing. Something like that.

    For an Agile PM, TDD leads to higher velocity, higher quality, which means more features and more customer benefit. Yay!

    The message of all this is that being an expert in this stuff makes you a better member of a better team.

    Make sense?

    Elisabeth replies:

    Hey Drew – thanks! Yup, that all makes sense. Many thanks!!

  5. Alessandro Collino February 13, 2009 at 10:24 am #

    Hi Elisabeth!

    Great contents!!!!

    I agree with the first suggestion of William.

    I agree also with your intentions to transmit the following message: in an Agile context, everyone tests, continuously. You know how much I love also Agile Testing and your messages get carried away!

    Only a suggestion, if I can: in my humble opinion an important message is that an agile team requires many different talents and there is a room for everyone.

    I mean that if there is someone on the team who is not good at developing or testing, but is really good at identifying important concepts and describe them clearly, that would be a bonus.

    This help to elicit requirements or to write better acceptance tests. This in my experience is a great contribution, considering also that, for instance, the context-driven testing treats incomplete definition of the behaviour of the SUT as normal and expects a moving target.