Monday, September 30, 2013

Email, Facebook, and Text/SMS
Rock Online Communications

Email and Facebook are the main ways that Internet users in the US communicate with each other. So say Survey Sampling International and the ad agency The Buntin Group in their recent survey of which communication vehicles Americans used in the prior week to keep in touch with their friends, family, and business associates.

Eighty-seven percent of Internet users said that they had used email, and the same percentage of web users said that they had used Facebook. The next most popular method of communicating online was text/SMS, at 68 percent.

Twitter (32%), YouTube (31%), and Skype (26%) made up the middle tier of online communication tools. Google+ (19%), Instagram (18%), LinkedIn (18%), and Pinterest (14%) also had significant impacts online.

Should microISVs set up accounts with all of the major social networking sites? I would recommend doing a lot of research before making a commitment to these online communication vehicles. Choose the sites that are most important to your company. Target users in your software niche, and market effectively to them using one or two of the social networking sites.

No software developer benefits from launching a blog and not posting meaningful content to it each week. Similarly, no sales bump will emerge from a microISV setting up an online forum on the company's website unless there is a way to nudge customers and prospects to populate the forum with useful information.

Don't just jump in the social networking pond. Develop a plan for how you'll turn the time that you spend on Facebook, Twitter, and the other sites into incremental software sales.

Friday, September 27, 2013

What Worries Technology CEOs?

Each year, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) publishes an annual CEO survey of technology companies. There are some interesting items in the latest survey, as reported in a recent issue of Processor Magazine. It's always interesting to compare the concerns of the CEOs of the large enterprises with the issues that keep microISV business owners up at night.

Some of the items in this year's survey of larger tech companies are -

  • 84 percent of the CEO's expected to have higher revenues this year than last.
  • 61 percent said that growing their customer base was their top investment goal.
  • 84 percent are going to build their company's presence on social media sites.
  • 37 percent think that new products and services provide the best opportunity for growing their companies.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Marketing Software to Women

Book review of EVEolution - Understanding Women - Eight Essential Truths that Work in Your Business and Your Life by Faith Popcorn and Lys Marigold (published 2001 by Hyperion).

EVEolution is a marketing theory that is based on the observation that men and women are different with respect to how they purchase products and services. Simply put, it makes no sense to market to both genders in the same way. While EVEolution is not a book about selling software programs, it can help with your software marketing.

The authors believe that there are significant differences between women and men which affect the way they receive and process marketing messages. Men and women shop differently. That's why reading EVEolution can enhance your software marketing - and your software sales.

It has become fashionable to deny that there are gender differences of any type. Popcorn and Marigold insist that we have to recognize that real differences exist. And we need to market differently to women and men. EVEolution presents eight principles that "reveal how to understand, reach, motivate, and sustain the loyalty of the female customer."

Women buy lots of goods and services. For example, at the time EVEolution was published, there were 13 million single mothers in the United States who made buying decisions for their households. Similarly, many women and girls are making software-buying decisions.

I believe that the ideas, case studies, and blue-sky brainstorming in EVEolution will trigger ideas that will generate more software sales. Whether it's setting up a forum and building a community of users for your software, or adding an "About the Company" page to your website that reveals that your microISV company is a female-owned firm, there are lots of things that you can do immediately that will increase sales to women.

Don't expect to find a bunch of ideas about selling software applications. Most of the examples in EVEolution are about creating brand loyalty and long-term sales for household products and personal consumer goods. You have to translate these principles into the world of software marketing.

Women buy differently than men. Women have a significant amount of buying power. You can sell more of your software applications if you target women effectively. While I personally wouldn't name any of EVEolution's theories "Truths", the book presents some good insights into how to market more effectively to women.

In 2001, the 8- to 12-year old girls' market had 15-million members in the United States. These youngsters spent roughly $5-billion each year just on clothing. They need to purchase your software, too.

EVEolution is a quick read. One or two ideas from EVEolution can make it a good investment of your time. It can boost your software marketing efforts.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Starting a Software Development Company

If you're an experienced software developer and you've dreamed about selling your software applications to consumers and businesses, then you should check out the new software business training course which will be held in London, England.

It's a 2-day intensive course on how to create a profitable business selling the PC, Mac, or online software that you've created. The instructor is Andy Brice, an experienced and successful software developer who has written extensively about how to run a software business.

The course is designed for entrepreneurs who will be self-financing their microISV companies. There won't be tips on finding venture capitalists or angels who will bankroll your project. And it's certainly not a programming course.

If you're prepared to work your butt off for two days (Saturday and Sunday, November 23 - 24, 2013), your £650 + VAT investment can bring you the knowledge you need to launch your business and avoid the pitfalls that hurt so many programmers who try to turn their technical knowledge into a successful business.

Visit Andy's Successful Software blog to learn more about the course

Monday, September 16, 2013

Personal Quotations in your Press Release

Don't include a personal quotation in your press release.

If you're Microsoft or Apple or IBM, then it's a good idea to include a quote from your well-known officer or director. But for the other 99 percent of us, our news releases shouldn't include the witty sayings of our founders or COOs.

Computer and business magazines and newspaper columnists rarely print personal quotes, except when they publish feature articles. There are two problems with including quotes in your press release:

(1) If you include quotations, then the editors have to take them out. As a general rule, the more work that the editors have to do, the less likely they'll include your company's press release in their publication.

(2) If the quotation in your press release is important to the message that you want the editors to print, and if the editors routinely remove quotes from the press releases that they use, then they're going to weaken your message by removing this important information.

Take a quick look at the popular computer trade and computer consumer publications. Their "What's New" columns rarely include quotes from company officials. These magazines may have feature articles that include this type of quotation. You can be certain that if the editors want to include a quotation, they will either contact you, or they'll make up the quotation themselves using the material in your press release.

News releases build name recognition for your software or SaaS. Start a New Product Announcement campaign about your software application, and start creating the sales that you deserve. Use our marketing and news release experience to sell more of your software.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Cloud Services and
Android & iOS Development

By 2016, 40 percent of iOS and Android app development will involve cloud services. So says Gartner in a report published in the June 14, 2013 issue of Processor Magazine.

End users are looking for apps that integrate with the social media and other online sites that they use. From the perspective of the software developer, storing the apps' data in the cloud is often a sound design decision. So we can expect to see more and more mobile device apps with hooks in the cloud.

Gartner is concerned about the security of business apps that have links to the cloud. These apps, which will likely be built by microISV firms and not by each company's internal IT department, need to have the same level of "oversight and governance" as apps that are developed internally.

That's unlikely to happen. As the bring your own device (BYOD) movement strengthens, decisions about which apps to buy are going to be made by end users, and not by a centralized IT department.

From a marketing perspective, software developers need to address security concerns. Describe the rock-solid security built into your cloud-based smartphone apps from the design level up. Business managers need to be comfortable knowing that their people are buying your apps, without having these buying decisions approved by their companies' IT departments. It's good software marketing to anticipate that leading-edge products must still satisfy such basic business needs as security.

Monday, September 9, 2013

What Does "it" Mean?

Patricia T. O'Conner warns us to be clear when we use pronouns. She is a former editor at the New York Times Book Review, and is the author of the book "Words Fail Me - What Everyone Who Writes Should Know About Writing."

If you use the word "it," O'Conner tells us, be certain that your reader will know immediately what it refers to.

I agree. In today's world, where marketing success depends so heavily on being well-indexed in the Internet search engines, there are two reasons to abandon pronouns such as "it," and instead use nouns and noun phrases such as WinWidget, the program, the application, and the software. 

First, as O'Conner points out, using nouns is clearer than using pronouns.

Second, using nouns makes your writing more keyword-rich, making it easier for the search engines to rank you for important words and phrases.

Today, we're all writing for our human website visitors as well as for the search engines. So we need to use both nouns and pronouns. Carefully.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Look At Me!

Phil Dusenberry was the Chairman of BBDO North America, one of the largest advertising firms in the US. He says that the biggest problem facing most business owners is finding a way to say "Hey, I'm Over Here!"

In his 2005 book "Then We Set His Hair on Fire - Insights and Accidents from a Hall-of-Fame Career in Advertising," Dusenberry discusses the major variations on this theme: "We've arrived" and "We're still here" and "We're not the company you think we are".

Dusenberry's experiences with mega-companies like Pepsi were no doubt different from the advertising challenges that the one-person microISV faces. But the principles are the same.

If Dusenberry were talking to independent software developers, I think he'd be advising them to use no- and low-cost ways to announce that they're in business and offering high-quality software. Create content that gets indexed in the search engines, and that brings a steady flow of well-targeted traffic to your site.