Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Good Blog Postings can be a Little Wrong

"I'm afraid you couldn't be more wrong," said Stuart, the comic book store owner on the hit television series Big Bang Theory.

"More wrong?" Sheldon replied. "Wrong is an absolute state, and not subject to gradation."

"Of course it is," said Stuart. "It's a little wrong to say a tomato is a vegetable. It's very wrong to say it's a suspension bridge."

Many developers tell me that they don't post on their blogs because it takes too long to write high-quality ideas. Truth is, the write-ups that you post on your software development blog don't have to be perfect.

Yes, you need to make sure that your postings are well structured. The words have to flow in an attractive way. But you're not posting masterpieces. You're posting ideas that will help your blog readers better understand how good your software is.

Explain in a simple, conversational style how much your prospects' lives will be improved if they had your application installed on their computer, tablet, or smartphone. Explain how easy it is to upgrade from a single-user license to a family license, and to a multi-user business license.

Don't say on your blog that a tomato is a suspension bridge. But implying that a tomato is a vegetable won't cost you sales. Allowing your blog to go stale will cost you a lot of sales.

This is the time to ensure that you have a steady flow of solid messages on your blog.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Positioning your Software in your Press Release

Always start your news release by introducing your software and putting it in context. Make it simple for editors to understand immediately what your software is about.

Next, say why your application is different from - and better than - your competitors' products. Give editors, bloggers, and software reviewers information about how they can get their readers excited about your software.

Your press release should be consistent with the marketing presentation on your website, and with all of your other advertising and promotion. Use the same positioning when you describe your software, and its features and benefits.

Before you write your website - or any advertising material - you must determine your positioning strategy. You weaken your software marketing efforts when you pretend that you're offering a one-size-fits-all application that will meet every need of every user. Instead, position yourself in a well-defined marketing niche and try to own that niche.

Perhaps you're offering the newest application, with the newest technology. Or perhaps you're at the other end of that spectrum, and you want to describe your program as the most established, most credible, and most stable software.

You can position your software as the least expensive program in the marketplace. Or you can say that your application is expensive, and worth every dollar that you charge.

Maybe you want to tout the power of your software, and the fact that it includes every feature that's available in the industry. Alternatively, you can say that your application is the easiest product to use, and doesn't contain all of the superfluous features found in competitive programs.

Before you start writing your press release - or the sales message on your website - ask yourself who your competitors are, and how are they positioned in their software marketing niche. How are they perceived by the people in their target market? Which facets of their software and marketing techniques are vulnerable, and which do you want to address in your write-up?

Use your news release to announce to your prospects how you want your application to be perceived. Remember that your press release is an exercise in software marketing, and not just a story about your program.

Press releases generate software sales.

Writing an effective New Product Announcement can be hard. You can't send the bloggers the sales pitch from your website. You can't submit your PAD file description. And you can't send them a nice story about your software application. You have to submit a professionally-crafted press release that they can use. We can help you write and submit your press release.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Minds Work by Ear

"Minds Work by Ear" is a chapter title in Jack Trout's book "The New Positioning." The author discusses the various senses, and how advertisers connect effectively with prospects.

Without exception, all of the successful positioning campaigns that Trout studied when researching his book were verbal, and not visual - or at least not exclusively visual. Images alone don't seem to be an effective way to position your product.

Trout believes that spoken words are much more effective than written words. The mind hangs onto spoken words longer than it saves written words. And spoken words can convey emotion as well as cognitive meaning.

In my opinion, well-chosen written words can convey a lot of emotion, too. A well-written sales presentation can help you sell more software. And when accompanied on a website by images that reinforce the sales message, you can create a compelling sales message.
The sound of your product name and the sound of your company name are important.

Trout recommends that we use printed words to carry the bulk of our sales presentations. But his book was written before podcasts, screencasts, and YouTube. I wonder what he would tell us today.

The bottom line - Don't use confusing words in your sales pitch. And use headlines that both look good and sound good. It's good software marketing.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Marketing Sells Software

Book review of How to Become a Marketing Superstar - Unexpected Rules that Ring the Cash Register by Jeffrey J. Fox (published 2003 by Hyperion).

Before buying "How to Become a Marketing Superstar" I was never a fan of small books that promise to transform the reader's life. But this is a book that I can recommend to everybody in the software development industry.

"How to Become a Marketing Superstar" combines common sense and proven business practices to explore ways to find customers and keep them coming back. It's a book about marketing. It's not written for the software development industry, but its principles can help microISVs with their software marketing.

With his emphasis on practical ideas, Fox believes that marketing is about generating revenue. Either an idea brings in money, or you should drop it and try something else.

Fox believes that every business owner has to love their brand. So if a software developer isn't in love with his or her application, they won't be able to market it very effectively.

There's a lot of good advice in this easy-to-read book. You probably won't agree with everything that Fox has written. But at least you'll have plenty of marketing ideas to think about, and to apply to your software development business.

Here's my favorite quotation from Fox:
"Technology does not sell; marketing sells. The equation for success for technology-based new products is 2 percent technology and 98 percent marketing. Don't depend on fantastic new technology to sell itself. Nothing sells itself."

Monday, April 15, 2013

Negotiation Tips
for Software Developers

In negotiations, don't label or pigeonhole your opponent. So says Herb Cohen, the author of "Negotiate This! by Caring, But Not That Much." Labelling or pigeonholing your opponent limits your options, and hurts your ability to negotiate effectively.

Cohen urges us to recognize unstated needs. We have to figure out what motivates our opponent.

It's important to make the other person like us. We're more likely to get the opponent to say "yes" if he or she can identify with us.

In the software development industry, we're continually negotiating with developers, eCommerce service providers, download sites, consultants, banks, printers, and other stakeholders. Cohen's book is a great tool to strengthen your negotiating skills.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Women and Multi-Tasking

Women lead multiple lives, Faith Popcorn and Lys Marigold tell us. You'll sell more products and services to women if you help them more easily integrate the things that you sell into their lives.

Popcorn and Marigold are the authors of the book "EVEolution - Understanding Women." And a major thesis of the book is summed up in the chapter title "If you're marketing to one of her lives, you're missing all the others."

The authors cite Helen Fisher's book "The First Sex." Men tune out things, and concentrate on doing one thing at a time. Women, by contrast, multitask and move more easily from task to task.

In Popcorn's words, "Women do everything, and men mostly work and work and work."

What does this mean for software developers? Popcorn and Marigold have removed the fiction that we should sell products and services to women using the same sales presentation that we use to sell to men.
Think through how female prospects can use your software, and include a sales presentation that addresses women.

For example, if you're selling educational software, describe your application as a vehicle for bringing the whole family together. Help women integrate your software into their lives.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Editing Your Software Sales Presentation

Editing Your Software Sales Presentation

Omit needless words from your web pages. That's what Steve Krug told us in his 2000 book "Don't Make Me Think - A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability."

Things have changed.

In 2000, web designers wrote sales presentations for their human visitors. They didn't pay too much attention to the search engines.

Today, the emphasis has shifted. Business owners are looking for ways to add as much content as possible to their sites.

Back in 2000, Krug said that most web pages would benefit by having 75 percent of their words removed. His point is still true today - most web pages could be turned into much stronger sales presentations by pruning back much of the text.

But without that text, the search engines would be less likely to send traffic to that page. Unfortunately, keyword stuffing has replaced traditional editing in today's web pages, resulting in keyword-rich pages that put human visitors to sleep.

The solution is simple - Write for your human visitors. Weave the important keywords and key phrases into your sales presentation. Don't over-optimize your web pages and risk weakening the sales message for your human visitors. Create additional pages for keywords that are important for selling your software applications. Always keep your human visitors' needs at the top of your priority list.

Looking for more tips on writing your software sales message? There are 19 articles on my website about writing stronger sales messages, improving your website design, strengthening your copywriting, and adding marketing pages to your site. The links to these articles are at the bottom of the website review page on my DP Directory site.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Newsworthy Press Releases

Software developers can get editors interested in their press releases if they tie their New Product Announcement together with an important news story.

For example, if you're offering a software application that can help people land their next job, then write your press release with a heavy emphasis on employment and the economy.

When deciding whether to print or post a news release about your software, the editors think about timing, impact, and location.

Timing is important. Stories about the economic downturn are going to be around for quite some time. Stories about hurricanes, political events, or pop culture have a very short shelf life. If your news story is fleeting, then write and distribute your press release. Now.

You'll get more ink if you can tie your software application to a high-impact news event. Location can be important, too. If there's a local hook to your news event, then be sure to send your press releases to the local newspapers, regional magazines, and the radio and TV stations.

Computer editors and bloggers want to tell your story to their subscribers.

Since 1984, DP Directory has been providing software developers with news release writing and submission services. In August of 1997 we introduced our press release emailing service. We've helped thousands and thousands of developers boost their software sales by getting them write-ups in magazines, newspapers, and blogs. We know the tech and smartphone marketplaces. We know how to get publicity for your software application.