Thursday, January 30, 2014

Software Marketing Sins

Book review of Ten Deadly Marketing Sins - Signs and Solutions by Philip Kotler (published 2004 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.).

"Ten Deadly Marketing Sins" provides an excellent checklist of all of the marketing tasks that you have to do to sell software products and services successfully.

Kotler has sold more than 3 million copies of his textbooks. He's done marketing consulting work for AT&T, General Electric, Ford, IBM, and other Fortune 100 companies. He knows a lot about marketing.

Traditional marketing no longer works, Kotler tells us. He points out that new products, and the companies that produce them, are failing at a particularly high rate. Most products and services have been commoditized; they are almost impossible to distinguish from their competitors' offerings.

Kotler identifies the problems (marketing sins) that are hurting companies: Firms are neither focused on their markets nor customer-driven. Company owners and managers don't keep adequate track of their competitors and customers. They're not planning, not seeking out new opportunities, and not properly controlling their sales and marketing processes.

I've noticed that many of Kotler's "marketing sins" are easy to find in the software development community:

  • Developers need to determine why sales are lower than they should be. Is it because the worldwide economy is soft? Has there been a shift in expectations held by people who buy software? Are microISVs' competitors offering better software products and services? Is software pricing out of whack with what buyers expect?
  • Developers need to identify and target market segments with their applications. It's too easy to follow the ancient habit of believing that customers will be attracted to the best products and services at the lowest costs. Software developers need to find out what their prospects really need, and target the desires of each market segment that they sell to.
  • Developers aren't connecting with their stakeholders. Download sites and eCommerce companies are seen by some developers as the enemy of the software development industry. Developers could sell a lot more software if they thought of vendors in the software industry as valued colleagues and partners.
  • Developers need to understand which of their applications are generating profits, which are valuable for other reasons, and which should be abandoned or sold.
  • Developers need to stop giving away important services for free.
  • Developers need to spend more attention on cross-selling and up-selling their software applications.
  • Developers need to concentrate on brand-building, and on targeting profits rather than things such as sales, downloads, or website visits. 

"Ten Deadly Marketing Sins" provides a great checklist of the marketing tasks that you have to do to sell software successfully. The book is not specifically about selling software, so you'll have to translate everything from general terms to the day-to-day realities of the software development industry. Reading "Ten Deadly Marketing Sins" is a good way to ensure that there are no major holes in your software marketing plan.

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