Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Software Positioning for microISVs

Book review of The New Positioning - The Latest on the World's #1 Business Strategy by Jack Trout (published 1997 by McGraw-Hill, Inc.).

Fifteen years after Al Ries and Jack Trout wrote "Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind", Trout released his updated ideas about positioning. The world of marketing has changed, and Trout's insights have become sharper. Jack Trout's latest ideas on positioning can help with your software marketing.

The original "Positioning" book was a breakthrough because it changed the focus of marketing. Before "Positioning," marketing was about what you do to the product.After "Positioning," marketing has been about what you do to the mind.

"The New Positioning" talks about new things that we've learned about the human mind. It delivers case studies of firms that had to reposition themselves in people's minds if they were to survive and grow. And it provides a lot of practical advice for business owners, including software developers. There are ideas on how to name your company and product, and how to make sure customers will comprehend your product's category.

Trout believes that you can't successfully position your product or service as something that everybody needs. It's not possible to convince buyers that your software has, say, both the most powerful feature-set and the simplest interface. It's unlikely that your software is the most powerful, while being the least expensive. Your software can't be the ideal solution for both newbies and techies. You have to carve out a position in the marketplace, and dominate that position.

Decades ago, car manufacturers would position themselves as dominant in a particular category. By contrast, today's Chevrolets are both tiny and huge, cars and trucks, inexpensive and luxury. Trout explains that, as confusion goes up, market share goes down.

microISVs have a similar problem in defining their categories, and their positions within these categories. Developers are tempted to describe their software applications as the solution to every problem. Instead, microISVs should create separate programs for each market. It's better software marketing.

Much of "The New Positioning" is targeted at consumer goods that customers buy again and again. People buy Windows popup blockers in a much different way than they buy cola each week. But the book has a lot of fresh ideas - ideas that will enhance your software marketing.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Bulk Emailing your Press Releases

Always send your press releases individually.

Of course, you can use emailing software that sends your news releases to a large list of editors, bloggers, reviewers, and columnists. But never send your press releases to a cc list, a blind cc list, or to a suppressed recipient list. From the editors' perspective, they should think that a software developer sent them an individual email containing a press release.

It's okay if you use a professional press release submission service such as DP Directory. Using the service's "from" address and your company's "reply to" address will increase deliverability.

Avoid sending your press releases to generic names. It's the email equivalent of "junk mail" to send your press releases to generic names such as "Technology Editor" or "Software Reviewer".

Similarly, avoid sending your press releases to generic addresses. When you submit your news release to editor@ or news@, it's going to be read by a clerical person who may - or may not - take the time to deliver your announcement to the right individual. Instead, be sure to get the editors' actual names and email addresses. Send your press releases to each editor's real inbox.

Press releases are more credible than ads. They just work better.

To increase your computer and smartphone software sales, your press release has to be written in proper English. If you use my news release submission service, I'll review your press release for free and give you my feedback. If you'd prefer, I can write your press release for you, affordably and quickly.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Sponsorships for microISVs

"A well-chosen and well-managed sponsorship can move your brand forward more dramatically than almost any other marketing activity." That's what David F. D'Alessandro said in his book "Brand Warfare - 10 Rules for Building the Killer Brand."

D'Alessandro drew on his experience of working for huge enterprises when he wrote about the value of sponsoring sporting and artistic events. Here in the software development industry, many microISVs have shared sponsorship in the last decade for such tech events as the European Software Conference (ESWC), the Software Industry Conference (SIC), and the Independent Software Vendor Conference (ISV Con).

I've been a sponsor of the European Software Conference (ESWC) for eight years. Few mISVs are in a position to sponsor larger national events such as CES or CeBIT. But there are other relationships that we can form with outside organizations that could increase our visibility. There are local civic events, scholarship programs, and regional and national organizations who are looking for business partners.

In the software development field, there are a number of membership organizations and exhibition/award organizations that offer visibility to supporters. Sponsorships give your brand visibility and credibility.

Look for opportunities in vertical markets, too, to sponsor an organization or an event. Create partnerships with trusted institutions. Start building these important relationships today.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Demographics and Software Sales

The major changes that we have seen in US economics, business, and society are due to the size of successive US generations, and the corresponding different number of people in each age group.  So says Kenneth W. Gronbach, author of the 2008 book "The Age Curve - How to Profit from the Coming Demographic Storm."

Gronbach knows that his theory simplifies a very complex subject. But he has crafted a convincing argument for much of the rising and falling of specific companies and market trends.

microISVs are correct to focus their efforts on their immediate marketing issues. Trends are also important, as they might provide the "missing piece to the puzzle" that explains surprising successes.

Here are Gronbach's definitions of the five generations currently in the US marketplace:

  • GI Generation - the 56.6 million Americans born between 1905 and 1924
  • Silent Generation - the 52.5 million Americans born between 1925 and  1944
  • Baby Boomers - the 78.2 million Americans born between 1945 and  1964
  • Generation X - the 69.5 million Americans born between 1965 and 1984
  • Generation Y  - the 100-or-so million Americans born since 1985

Gronbach equates Generation Y to "more of everything." Gen Y is the greatest opportunity for marketers, based purely on the numbers.

When it comes to buying consumer goods - and that includes consumer software for computers and telephones, Gen Yers want everything now. They're going to face a lot of competition in the workplace, and their source of income is not a certainty. Many will become entrepreneurs - and need both education and software to be successful. There will be huge opportunities for software developers.

Gronbach believes that manufacturing will return to the US. Gen Y will provide the huge workforce needed to support this new trend in manufacturing. By creating goods here, US companies can quickly make changes that parallel Gen Y's changing fads and preferences. And US-based manufacturing will eliminate overseas shipping costs, which will continue to rise.

America will get greener as Gen Yers dominate the marketplace.

Age-for-age, dollar-for-dollar, individuals in Generation Y consume about 500 percent more than their parents consumed at the same age. I guess iPods, laptops, cell phones, and DVD players all cost money.

Consumer brand-names are less important to Yers. They don't watch television much, and traditional marketing won't be as effective. That, of course, is great news for software developers, who have already figured out how to market on the Internet.

Loyalty, retention, and frequent-flyer-style programs will become more and more important.

Again, Gronbach admits that his theory oversimplifies. But these are issues that microISVs need to think about as they do long-term strategic planning.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Selling Tech Products Using Publicity

In 1972 HP introduced the HP-35 calculator, David Packard tells us in his book "The HP Way - How Bill Hewlett and I Built Our Company."

Hewlett-Packard made excellent use of publicity to sell their new 35-key calculator. They gave away free units to "leading engineers and Nobel physicists".

They got so much free press and so much great word-of-mouth advertising from this endeavor that they could hardly keep up with sales.

Publicity works today, too, to sell software products and services. I've worked with quite a few thousand software developers who have used news releases to sell more of their software applications. Learn more about my press release writing and distribution services.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Fancy Software Marketing
versus Basic Software Marketing

A lot of software marketers try fancy ways to sell their applications. It's great that they're experimenting with new concepts. But I think software developers need to return to the basics, and make sure we're all doing the fundamentals - the essentials - correctly and well.

The fundamentals of marketing include press releases, search engine optimization (SEO), well-written sales presentations, keyword-rich content, and compelling registration incentives.

Keep your website up to date. Do basic SEO. Add content on a regular basis. Build relationships with other stakeholders in the software development industry. And, yes, try innovative new ways to market your applications.

Learn how my "Rent Al's Brain" website review service can help your web site's sales presentation, SEO, content, and software sales.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Managing Software Buyers' Fear

Buyers' fear of loss is stronger than their need to save money. So says Jeffrey J. Fox in "How to Become a Marketing Superstar – Unexpected Rules that Ring the Cash Register."

If Fox is correct, then a productive software marketing strategy would be to communicate the loss that software buyers might experience if they delay making a buying decision.

  • Rather than telling prospects how much money they'll save because of your application's productivity improvements, tell them that your software will stop the money that they're losing by not buying and using your program.
  • Rather than talk about the new functionality that your application program offers, talk about the gains that your customers' direct competitors are making by using the software that they, too, should buy right now.

"Fewer than 5 percent of all marketers ground their product claims on benefits to the customer," Fox tells us. "Fewer than 1 percent of all marketers dollarize the value of their product and sell with numbers."

Fox says that the best marketers quantify their product's savings potential. They tell their prospects about the consequences of not making a buying decision.

I'm not convinced that this approach is the way to maximize your software sales. Following Fox's advice could result in a very negative website and sales presentation. That negativity could tarnish your company's brand, and lead to lower sales.

Software developers might consider weaving a little of the "fear of loss" message into their sales presentations. But don't let negativity dominate your marketing message. Instead, offer a solution to prospects' problems. Or sell the benefits that your application will deliver to the software-buying public.