Monday, July 30, 2012

Differentiate Your Software with your Heritage

If you have a long history of developing and marketing software in your market niche, then you should mention that fact, early and often. Longevity in the business world is a powerful attention-getter and attraction for both your company and your software. People assume that you must know what you're doing to stay in business so long. Heritage differentiation is good software marketing.

So says Jack Trout in his 2000 book "Differentiate or Die - Survival in Our Era of Killer Competition". Actually, Trout didn't talk about the software development industry in particular. But his general comments about heritage being a good way to differentiate your products and services apply to our industry, too.

Heritage and longevity are forms of leadership, Trout tells us. You may not be the sales leader in your software niche, but you have credibility if you've been active in the industry for years and years. It's even better if you can combine a rich heritage with the notion that you've remained at the leading edge of computer and telephony technology.

If you have a direct competitor, you might attempt to use their heritage against them. Many companies find ways to define a competitor's history, and portray it as a negative. We see this quite often in the distilled spirits industry where it's common for Russian vodka firms to create TV and print ads that talk about the lack of authenticity of vodka from countries other than Russia. Another example is a TV ad that has been airing for years. It depicts a group of Texas cowboys sitting around a campfire and eating salsa that was made in Texas, while commenting that the major competitor's salsa is made in New York City.

In many marketing niches, being a family-owned and family-operated business is a positive thing, and can help increase your credibility and sales. In my opinion, this applies to some of the software development industry. For example, if you're marketing your software products and services to individuals and families, you might emphasize the fact that you're operating a small, family-owned company. On the other hand, if you're selling mission-critical applications to large companies, nonprofits, and government agencies, you should stay as far away as possible from the mom-n-pop image.

In any case, heritage is a winning attribute for your company and your product line. If you've been in business for a long time, use that fact to increase your software sales.

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