The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR by Al Ries and Laura Ries (published 2004 by HarperBusiness).
Advertising lacks credibility, Al and Laura Ries tell us. On the other hand, buzz, press, and word-of-mouth are much, much more effective. The premise of the book is that public relations (PR) has credibility, and advertising doesn't.
Al Ries is a respected marketing writer. He coauthored (along with Jack Trout) the best-selling book "Positioning," as well as several volumes about the "immutable laws" of marketing and branding.
Advertising is all about companies bragging about their accomplishments. PR, on the other hand, lets journalists tell your story. You send press releases to magazine and newspaper editors, and these journalists tell their readers about your products and services. From the readers' perspective, these stories are written objectively by experts. PR is credible. PR is intelligent software marketing.
The authors urge us to not limit ourselves to the traditional press. "When Tony Soprano told his psychiatrist, on the HBO series The Sopranos, that he liked Sun Tzu's The Art of War, the book jumped to No. 6 on USA Today's best-seller list," the authors explain. "The publisher had to print another 25,000 copies of the twenty-four-hundred-year-old book."
"The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR" is not about the software development industry. You have to translate the authors' principles into your day-to-day business concerns. But if you work a bit, this book can strengthen your software marketing.
Advertisements won't let you build your brand, the authors tell us. They believe that ads can be used effectively to defend your brand. But you need third-party endorsements to effectively launch a new software application.
Public relations is not without its flaws, the authors point out. When you send press releases, you can't control the content or the timing of your message as well as you can when you pay for advertising.
"The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR" talks about choosing product and company names, line extensions, creating new product categories, doing brand maintenance, and dozens of other marketing topics, all of which will help your software marketing efforts.
Many consumers find out what software is best by crowdsourcing - by asking what other people are using. They pay attention to what they read in magazines and newspapers, and they listen to what their friends and colleagues tell them. People know that if newspaper and magazine editors devote valuable space to a product, it must be good. Buzz in the press will get you noticed.
This 300-page book is an easy read, and full of useful information about marketing in general, and launching new products and services in particular. It will help your software marketing.