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The Turing Fest Newsletter #6 – 26th January 2023

January 26, 2023

Hey Gang 👋

It seems a little late in the game to wish you a happy new year given it’s February next week, so instead, we’ll just say “welcome back”!

It’s been a turbulent start to the year for the tech industry, with last year’s trend of layoffs in Big Tech continuing, and many later-stage VCs keeping their famous powder dry. Some of this is macroeconomics – we’re all feeling that – and some of this is VC’s inevitably coming to their senses again after a couple of years of frankly madness ($1bn into Hopin….ahem). Things look less gloomy at earlier stages for startups – seed investing remains the least affected by the general slowdown – but there is no doubt tech is going through some big changes. We’ll be taking a deeper look into this in this week’s newsletter with an analysis of YoY recruitment changes in the Big Tech firms.

Also in this edition, we’re taking a look at some tactical advice from Product Talk’s Teresa Torres to help you better understand your customers and refine how you solve their problems. We’re also following the latest in AI and how it might be about to upset the apple cart in search marketing. 

Finally, I joined Wistia’s Chris Savage on his podcast Talking Too Loud for an unexpectedly existential conversation about what events mean to us all in a post-pandemic world. You can see Chris on stage (finally!) at this year’s Turing Fest in June, but in the meantime, you can tune in to our chat on his pod.

Anyhow, on to the main event: the links!

All the best,

Brian


📚 [BUILD] Customer interviews: How to recruit, what to ask, and how to synthesize

How well do you really know your customers and their users? Nyssa Packard, Head of User Research at Skyscanner said during her talk at Turing Fest last year that “the number one reason why startups fail is that they don’t understand the customer need that they were solving for”. 

In short, this suggests that plenty of businesses don’t know their customers at all. It, therefore, stands to reason that customer interviews are one of the most necessary and effective ways to understand the behaviours, pains, and needs of the people you are trying to cater to. But how do you go about them?

Esteemed product management leader (& TF alumnus speaker) Teresa Torres has developed a step-by-step process on how to plan your customer interview strategy: from recruiting participants, interview format and questions, to the utterly critical question of translating your findings into effective business cases that can be presented to senior stakeholders.

📖 Read the full article here
[Teresa Torres, Product Talk]

📚 [GROW] How AI will change the future of search engine optimization

Since ChatGPT launched late in 2022, it has unsurprisingly dominated a lot of conversations about the future of tech – and beyond. After search, social, and mobile, it genuinely seems like it might be the next paradigm (as opposed to, say, crypto!). One area that many marketers are wondering about is how the inevitable influx of AI-generated content is going to shift the dynamics of the web. A key subset of this broad question is specifically around search: how will AI impact the future of SEO? 

Aside from the impact on the search landscape at a macro level – Microsoft looks set to incorporate ChatGPT into Bing, which Google is sure to respond to – could AI help to predict possible changes and fluctuations in search, and potentially help content marketers avoid penalties from search giants before they’ve even lifted the red flag? Or will machine-written content be penalised as derivative, non-canonical, or even plagiaristic?  

How long will it be before AI is your next marketing hire?

Read the full article here
[SEO Vendor, Search Engine Land]

🗞️ [LEAD] What Big Tech layoffs suggest for the industry

After a period of unparalleled growth with relatively little focus on cost of employees, the game has changed at Big Tech, with ripple effects likely to be felt across the whole of the tech industry. Layoffs have continued – although in many cases, while the numbers seem high, they are often undoing the previous year’s hiring.    

Former Uber, Skyscanner, and Skype engineering leader Gergely Orosz – who writes the excellent newsletter The Pragmatic Engineer – takes a detailed look at the drastic changes in Big Tech firms within the last 12 months, and whether this could be an indicator for smaller tech companies in the months ahead. 

📰 Read the full newsletter now
[Gergely Orosz, The Scoop]

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🎧 [BONUS] The existential thinking behind TF

Kids often ask the best questions, and sometimes prompt the best kind of thinking. When my kids asked me what my job is, amongst other things it provided a great talking point in my conversation with Wistia CEO Chris Savage & his colleague Sylvie Lubow last week. 

Chris – who is finally going to be on the TF stage this year, which I am excited about! – hosted me on his delightful podcast Talking Too Loud. Amongst other curiosities, we explored the Jobs To Be Done thinking behind Turing Fest, what the future of in-person events may soon look like in a post-pandemic world, and what we think makes TF different from other tech events.

👂Listen, watch or read the full podcast here
[Brian Corcoran, Chris Savage & Sylvie Lubow, Talking Too Loud with Chris Savage]

🎥 [ARCHIVE – TF18] Rand Fishkin – Why launches fail

More than ever before, marketers are launching things — content, tools, resources, products — and being held responsible for how/whether they resonate with customers and earn the amplification required to perform. This is hard. Really hard. Most of the projects that launch, fail. What separates the wheat from the chaff isn’t just the quality of what’s built, but the process behind it. 

In his 2018 talk, Rand shared examples of dismal failures and skyrocketing successes and took a deep dive into what separates the two. You’ll learn how anyone can make a launch perform better, and benefit from the power of being “new”. 

If you like this talk, you can catch Rand on stage at this year’s Turing Fest in June. He’ll be bringing his charismatic energy to the stage to share his latest insights, thoughts and musings.

[RandFishkin, SparkToro]

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