Friday, August 30, 2013

Government IT Spending in 2013

Government IT spending in 2013 will be a tiny bit less than it was in 2012. According to a Gartner report that was published in the July 26, 2013 issue of Processor Magazine, government agencies will be spending about one tenth of one percent less this year than they did in 2012.

Spending is going up in three areas: Mobile technologies, IT modernization, and cloud computing. Gartner points out that cloud computing expenditures are treated as operational expenses. By contrast, buying in-house servers and networks to support traditional processing would be treated as a capital expenses.

Gartner also mentions that fifty-two percent of government organizations support the BYOD (bring your own device) to work movement, and allow personal smartphones to be used on the job.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Selling Cars and Selling Software

Book review of How to Sell Yourself by Joe Girard (published 1988 by Warner Books).

You can sell more of your software if you learn how the world's greatest car salesperson crafted and managed his career. Joe Girard can help you with your software marketing.

The Guiness Book of Records names Joe Girard the world's greatest salesman. As a Cadillac salesman, he outsold every other car salesman in the United States, 12 years running. In "How to Sell Yourself," Joe tells how he went from humble beginnings to being so successful as a sales person. In Joe's mind, he didn't sell vehicles. He sold himself to his prospects.

While much of "How to Sell Yourself" deals with face-to-face selling, most of the principles apply to selling software applications on the Internet. The key to a successful sales career is selling yourself, and becoming the kind of person that prospects and customers trust. In a marketplace where large corporations spend lots of money buying name recognition for their brands, Joe Girard used honesty, friendliness, and service to build a successful sales career.

Software developers can apply these same principles to their web sites, blogs, and emailed sales messages. Your website has its own personality. And you can communicate Joe Girard's principles with your writing style, your customer service policies, and the overall friendliness of the website. And these principles apply to the trial version of your software, which is one of your strongest sales tools.

microISVs can learn a lot by studying successful people in other fields. You can strengthen your software marketing skills by spending a couple of hours reading the insights of a man who built a successful sales career. This book is a quick read, and worth the time. It can give you some keen insights into software marketing.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Disguising an Advertisement
as a Press Release?

Editors print news releases. Free. But editors won't print advertising messages for free. Period.

The number one reason editors discard press releases is because they contain hyperbole. Your news release has to be a news item, or you're wasting your time sending it to journalists.

You cannot say things like "Widget 5.0 includes a feature set that is unmatched in any competitive products." If you include this type of advertising copy in your press release, and the magazines print your press release, then they'd be giving you an endorsement. You would immediately plaster your website with the words "Widget 5.0 includes a feature set that is unmatched in any competitive products" and you'd name the magazine that printed your press release as the source of those words.

No editor will let you turn your press release into an endorsement that you attribute to their magazine or newspaper. So, don't put any hype in your press release.

If you include a little puffery in your New Product Announcement, the editors will remove it. If you include a lot of puffery in your news release, the editors will trash your write-up and use another microISV's news.

You can't describe your application as "revolutionary" or "ground breaking". You can't say that your program sets a new standard for its type of software, or that your application eclipses its competitors. You can't say that your app is the oldest or the newest, or make any claim that the editors cannot immediately verify independently.

You don't have to put the editors to sleep with your press release message. But you can't talk about your application setting a new paradigm.

Most magazines will let you buy advertising space and make just about any claim you'd like about your new software. But if your goal is to get publications to print your press release for free, you have to eliminate the sales hype, and talk objectively about your software's features and benefits.

The news release that you submit to the editors and bloggers has to be written in a style that they can use. Hire a professional marketing person to write your New Product Announcement. Don't rely on somebody who is sending press releases as a side business. You owe it to yourself to work with a professional press release person to promote your software and maximize your sales.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Your Software's Price is Not a Problem

Price is often the excuse (but rarely the reason) that you're losing market share to your competitors. So says Harry Beckwith in his book "The Invisible Touch - The Four Keys to Modern Marketing."

"Look deeper," Beckwith advises.

Most people can afford to pay more for your software. Don't charge less. Instead, do a better job of convincing prospects that your application has value.

That's good software marketing advice.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Closing the Software Sale Now

It's not enough for you to convince prospects that it's worthwhile to buy your product, Joe Girard tells us. You have to create a sense of urgency, and get them to buy now.

Girard is the author of the book "How to Close Every Sale - Field-tested, can't-lose techniques to win lifetime customers - and make every sale stick!" And while the author's experience is in selling automobiles face-to-face, many of his principles apply to Internet software sales, too.

If people have an emergency need, it's easy to sell your software. So, if your software removes malware or recovers files from hard drives, you don't have as big a hurdle to jump.

It's much harder to convince prospects to buy now because they may have a problem in the future.

Limited-time offers can be effective in closing the sale immediately. They send the message that indecision means a lost opportunity.

Be honest about your sales' expiration dates. Many online buyers are aware of the technique of declaring that your software is on sale until the end of the day. They know that if they come back next week on a different machine, they'll see the same message.

People often make buying decisions emotionally, and use reason to justify their emotional decision. Create some real urgency for buying your software immediately, and you'll increase your software sales.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Who Uses Public Wi-Fi Hotspots?

According to Juniper Research, as reported in the July 26, 2013 issue of Processor Magazine, nearly half of all data traffic from smartphones and tablets flows through Wi-Fi hotspots and small cell networks. Between now and 2017, Juniper expects this amount of traffic to grow from 9,000 petabytes (9+ million gigabytes) to ten times that number.

Expect your wireless carrier to be reacting to this off-network data usage by introducing their own Wi-Fi and 4G long-term evolution (LTE) services.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Why We Buy Software

Book review of Why We Buy - The Science of Shopping by Paco Underhill (published 1999 by Simon & Schuster).

Paco Underhill's book is about how people buy items in retail brick-and-mortar stores. But the merchandising lessons that he teaches us also apply to buying software on the web.

Small changes to a store's layout can make very large differences in the store's sales. Changing signs, for example, can increase or decrease sales. Lots! These same principles apply to software developers' web site layouts.

Here's an example - Underhill was hired by a dog food company to develop ways to increase sales. Underhill learned that mom buys most of the dog food. But dog treats are bought by children and grandparents.

Dog food of all sorts is often stored on high shelves, where most adults can readily access it. But seniors and children have problems with high shelves in supermarkets. By moving treats to the lower shelves, where kids and grandmothers can reach them, the dog food company instantly increased sales.

Good software marketing demands that software developers learn to observe how people buy online, and make it easier and more attractive for people to buy more software.

Brand names are no longer the powerful force they used to be, Underhill tells us. Branding and traditional advertising continue to have some influence over people's buying choices. But branding simply doesn't sway people's buying decisions the way it has in the past.

This observation about branding is great news for independent software vendors. It means that microISVs can compete with the well-known, well-capitalized software companies. And win!

Taking away from the influence of branding are things like signage, shelf position, display space, and fixtures. And each of these items has its Internet-based equivalent that software developers have to understand and use effectively in their marketing efforts.

Underhill's clients include Saks Fifth Avenue, The Gap, Hallmark, The US Postal Service, Wal-Mart, and Starbucks. But you don't have to pay his company tens of thousands of dollars to learn how to sell more software. Instead, you can spend a few fun hours reading his book. I highly recommend "Why We Buy." Here's the write-up on amazon.com.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Press Release Format Tips

There's a standard format for press releases that columnists and reviewers expect to see.

If you use a significantly different format for your software news release, you may get some "originality points" from some of these editors. But most of them will think that you don't know how to format a press release properly, and that's going to lessen your chances of getting press coverage.

For the vast majority of software developers' press releases, the first line should say "For Immediate Release". If you're embargoing the press release until a specific date and time (for example, you're announcing information about your company's stock split, and you're required to deliver the information to the entire world at the same time), then say something like "For Release on December 12, 2012, 9:00am eastern time (GMT-5)". If you don't include a release line of some type, the editors will assume that you don't know what you're doing.

On the next line, type "Contact: " followed by the personal name, email address, and telephone number of the person whom the editors should call if they have a question about your announcement.

Next, type the headline (sometimes called a tag line). This is the title line that the bloggers and magazines will post and print to catch their readers' attention, and to entice them to read your announcement. Keep it short because most publications don't use long tag lines. Specify your best feature or benefit. Don't say meaningless things like "old is new again".

The first sentence of your press release should say four things: Your company name, the name of your application, the platform or operating system that the program requires, and a brief description. Say something like "Widget Corp has released version 5.0 of Widget, an iOS app that does this and that." Your second sentence should say why your software is different from - and better than - other applications in your software niche.

Continue building your press release with the most important information at the top of your write-up. This "inverted pyramid" style lets editors and bloggers grab any clump of information (starting at the top of your press release) with the assurance that they're grabbing the most important info. It takes a little practice to write in this inverted pyramid style because it forces you to organize the information about your software in an unusual way. Often, it creates a bit of repetition, and it separates ideas that might make more sense if they were combined. As you can imagine, it rarely makes sense to include two products in a single news release, because the second product will get lost at the bottom of the press release.

The length of your news release depends on a lot of things, including the complexity of your application. A single-function Windows utility requires a lot less explanation than a complex business application. Virtually every New Product Announcement can be shortened with no loss of quality. Look for noise words and phrases. Eliminate all of them.

Wrap up your press release with your firm's contact information. Say something like "Widget version 5.0 costs $39(US) and is available from Widget Corp, 123 South Street...". Include your URL and your info@ or support@ email address.

Next, skip a line and create a line with three "#" characters (signifying the end of the press release text.) Under the ###s, you can include notes to the editors such as "Editorial Evaluation Copy Available on Request" or "Visit the product-name press resources page on...".

You should try to stand out from the crowd. Don't attempt this by using a non-standard press release format. Instead, put yourself in the top ten percent of all press releases by using common words in simple sentences to write clearly about your application.

Now you know how to format a press release.

Those 250-word write-ups that you see in the computer magazines can now be about your software, not your competitors' desktop and smartphone apps.

Send press releases and get your share of the free publicity that newspapers, magazines, and blogs deliver.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

SaaS Market Share in 2016

By 2016, 24 percent of US software companies' revenue will come from their software as a service (SaaS) applications. So says the new "Global 100 Software Leaders" report from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), as reported in the June 28, 2013 issue of Processor Magazine.

PwC is urging US software companies to ensure that they will be players in this growing SaaS marketplace in the coming years. They suggest that software developers need to start to tailor their products to "specific markets and geographic regions worldwide."

microISVs need to factor in the growth of SaaS offerings, and the acceptance of the SaaS model by the software-buying public, as they implement strategies for developing their next software application.