Thursday, October 10, 2013

Marketing Buzz Sells Software

Book review of "Unleashing the Ideavirus - Stop marketing at people! Turn your ideas into epidemics by helping your customers do the marketing for you" by Seth Godin (published 2001 by Hyperion).

Traditional advertising is fading. Buzz is the new way to sell products and services. And buzz can help developers sell more software. Buzz is the new basis of good software marketing.

In the past, you could market effectively by interrupting people. If you presented enough prospects with a TV commercial or a magazine advertisement, you could sell a lot of your product or service.

Today, Godin tells us, that's no longer possible. It's getting harder and harder to market anything - including software applications - by interrupting people. Software developers need to teach their customers to market to new prospects. Light a fire under influential users, Godin would argue, and get out of the way.

Godin's ideavirus is a particularly effective form of buzz. You create an idea that grows and "infects" everybody it touches. For example, you give people free email accounts whose signature file must be an advertisement for your free email service. Every time a user sends an email, they spread your ideavirus to their friends, relatives, and colleagues.

While Godin doesn't mention any of them in his book, there are a number of tools available that can help microISVs create and propagate ideaviruses.

  • Press releases can tell influential editors, columnists and bloggers about your application. These journalists can spread your ideavirus to thousands of their readers.
  • A well-designed affiliate program can energize a team of "sneezers" who can spread your ideavirus to the people in their social network.
  • You can add "tell a friend" buttons to your software product pages. This would make it easier for your customers and prospects to talk about your software program.
  • Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the other social networking sites can help you create buzz.
  • You can craft magazine articles and deliver presentations at industry conferences to get your ideavirus launched in your target communities.

The ideavirus is a helpful concept. If your software application is unique, it's worth thinking about how to use an ideavirus to create marketing buzz. Even if your software isn't unique, it's still good software marketing to think through every opportunity available to use word-of-mouth and buzz to promote your software.

This book is not particularly about the software development industry. For "Unleashing the Ideavirus" to be useful in your software marketing efforts, you'll have to do a lot of translating from its general principles to your software niche.

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