Sunday, August 31, 2014

Smartglasses in the Real World

It's easy to think that smartglasses are just the latest toy in a steady stream of gadgets for geeks and techies. However field service representatives from many industries will likely benefit from this technology.

Gartner's research director Angela McIntyre said, "The greatest savings in field service will come from diagnosing and fixing problems more quickly and without needing to bring additional experts to remote sites."

The article in Processor magazine cited the benefits that healthcare professionals will enjoy by being able to read instructions and see images that will help them perform medical procedures at remote sites. Similarly, real estate professionals, construction inspectors, and couriers will enjoy having useful information and illustrations available when they're out of the office.

The five-page Google Glass article in the October 2014 issue of Consumer Reports describes Google's well-publicized wearable as "a wirelessly connected, voice-controlled, head-mounted computer that displays search results, navigation directions, and even recipes in the user's peripheral vision."

The article says that "At press time, there were more than 100 apps for Glass, including versions of Facebook, Foursquare, OpenTable, and other mainstays of the mobile life."

Software developers need to keep smartglasses in mind in the coming years. If smartglasses become popular with business people, then your applications need to support these new devices.

Friday, August 29, 2014

What Software Customers Buy

"Customers don't buy products; they buy the benefits they get from the products."

... quotation by Jeffrey J. Fox from his book "How to Become a Marketing Superstar"

To learn more about benefits, or to learn more about Fox's book, visit my Software Marketing Glossary.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Great Lists of Marketing Ideas

Book review of Kotler on Marketing - How to Create, Win, and Dominate Markets by Philip Kotler (published 1999 by The Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster Inc.).

Philip Kotler writes great books. I've read several of them. This is my favorite - it's a simple way to learn more about marketing products and services - like software.

Based in the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, Professor Kotler has sold more than 3,000,000 textbooks in 20 languages.

The first two-thirds of "Kotler on Marketing" deals with strategic marketing and tactical marketing. It delivers tons of information that can help software developers sell more software products and services. I believe that it's essential to get a grounding in traditional marketing, and Kotler's presentation is the best.

The last third of the book deals with administrative marketing (which doesn't apply to one-person software development companies) and with transformation marketing (which is a bit simplistic for software developers who already know lots about computer technology and the Internet).

Kotler writes great lists of marketing tasks. Even when some of the topics don't apply directly to the software development industry or to software marketing, it's great to have complete lists so we can make sure that there aren't any marketing tasks that we might have missed.

For example, Kotler's list of winning marketing practices includes winning through higher quality, better service, lower prices, high market share, adaptation and customization, continuous product improvement, product innovation, entering high-growth markets, and through exceeding customer expectations. It's great to have a list like this so we can think about how each of these ideas can improve our sales and marketing.

"Kotler on Marketing" includes a list of the marketing problems that most enterprises face, a list of questions posed by marketers, and checklists that help you assess which of your company's functional areas are sufficiently customer-oriented. And that's a summary of the first 21 pages.

The book continues with nine ways to build demand for your products and services, selecting your product positioning, tools for building your brand identity, evaluating a brand's effectiveness, developing and using market intelligence, developing your product and service mix, acquiring, retaining, and growing customers, and dozens of other critical topics for software developers.

"Kotler on Marketing" contains the marketing information that microISVs need to create and execute their software marketing plans. You may not agree with all of the ideas in the book. But you can be confident that Kotler has covered all of the important marketing topics.

This book isn't an easy read. It's a dry book, written by a marketing professor. But Kotler's ideas can be turned into higher sales. I highly recommend reading "Kotler on Marketing."

Monday, August 25, 2014

Not-for-Resale (NFR) Software

When you ship an evaluation copy of your application to an editor, reviewer, or blogger, you might want to mark the CD, DVD, and box with the "Not for resale" notation.

This indicates that the software that you've shipped is a courtesy copy of your application, and that it cannot be resold. Be sure to put NFR stickers or rubber-stamp markings on the printed manual, registration card, and everything that you ship to the editors.

Make your mark in the software marketplace with press releases.

Busy bloggers and journalists don't sort through hundreds or thousands of Internet pages to find tech news that they can use. These journalists look for professionally written news releases in their inboxes. They tell their readers about the really neat software that they find. Learn more about DP Directory's press release services.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Advertising Advice from David Ogilvy

"Any fool can write a bad advertisement, but it takes a genius to keep his hands off a good one."

... quotation by David Ogilvy from his book "Ogilvy on Advertising"

To learn more about software advertising, or to learn more about Ogilvy's book, visit my website's Software Marketing Glossary.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Screen Resolution Trends -
4K Desktop Monitor Sales are Increasing

The new 4K display screens are becoming more popular. With more than 4,000 pixels of horizontal resolution, they offer clarity that wasn't available just a few years ago.

Earlier this year, the research firm NPD DIsplaySearch published its latest forecast. Even though desktop monitors are on the decline, the report predicts that two million 4K desktop monitors will ship in 2014. While this is a tiny fraction of the predicted 133 million monitors that will ship this year, the firm believes that 4K monitors will have an eight percent market share by 2017.

microISVs need to monitor these trends, and support the newer, higher-resolution monitors that are becoming more and more popular.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Business Advice You'll Never Use

The book "That's Outside My Boat" by Charlie Jones and Kim Doren includes a terrific quotation from Jim Burdick, the President and CEO of Unique Technologies:

"Our best new hires have been men who commanded nuclear submarines. They are intelligent and good at multitasking, and they really love the team environment. In addition, we can give them very small offices without windows."

On a serious note, if you hire veterans, you'll find talented, well-trained people who are eager to work.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Measuring Sales from Social Media

In a study in early 2014, Demand Metric reported that 70 percent of the organizations that use social media analytics tools are unable to quantify their benefits from using social media.

Organizations use social media analytics tools to measure customer engagement, campaign tracking, brand analysis, competitive intelligence, customer care, product launches, and similar metrics.

Based upon this report, it seems that there's an opportunity here for small, independent software vendors (microISVs) to create more effective tools to capture social media data, select the proper information, and deliver useful information about the return on investment (ROI) that organizations are getting from the time and money they're committing to social media.

Monday, August 11, 2014

BYOD Has Security Issues

Gartner published the results of their fourth-quarter 2013 survey of 995 US workers who use a personal smartphone, notebook, or tablet at their workplaces. Nearly half of the workers, who are part of the bring your own device (BYOD) to work movement, use their devices for a combination of work-related and social purposes during working hours. Gartner points out that cyber attacks on those devices result in both a threat to the employees' personal data and to their employers' data.

One quarter of the people surveyed said that they had had a security issue with their device in the past year. Only 27 percent of the people who had experienced a security event told their employers about it. Gartner believes that corporations and other enterprises need to have policies in place that require communication from employees when there has been any type of data loss, security problem, or compliance violation on the devices that employees bring into the workplace.

Small independent software vendors (microISVs) need to monitor the BYOD movement and see what types of policies enterprises are adopting to deal with the security threats related to this practice. It is likely that some standard policies will emerge, and software developers who market apps and applications that conform to these policies will be in a better position to sell multi-user and site licenses to these business customers.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Get Rich Not Clever

Deliver a clear sales message. Don't let a clever delivery spoil or obscure your message.

This advice comes from Jay Conrad Levinson in his book "Guerrilla Marketing Excellence." And I agree with him completely.

The idea of delivering a clear sales message is a concept that I think about every day in my press release business. If you hire me to write a press release about your software and send it to the editors, then my job is to deliver your message, and to make my delivery as invisible as possible.

If I send a press release to the editors, and their only thought is, "Wow! This is a well-written press release," then I've failed. My job is to get the editors to think, "Wow! This is great software. I need to tell my readers about it."

Similarly, software developers' websites have to deliver the message about the application, and not deliver bleeding-edge technology that gets prospects thinking about the mechanics or appearance of the  website. Your website should be modern, but it shouldn't deliver an experience that gets in the way of the sales presentation.

Make prospects remember the marketing idea, and not what Levinson calls the "showtime glitter."

Showtime and marketing do not necessarily complement each other. Don't be clever. Instead, concentrate on selling your software.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Tablets for Salespeople

Seventy-five percent of business-to-business (B2B) sales and marketing people believe that they would be more effective in their sales careers if they had tablets with them when dealing with prospects and customers. Less than one third of these people (23 percent) have company-issued tablets.

According to a study from Corporate Visions (as reported in Processor magazine), the sales and marketing people want tablets to swipe through sales presentations with customers, demo a business solution with prospects, do customer relationship management (CRM) work, and send information to customers.

I believe that two forces will combine to provide tablets and business apps to these sales and marketing people:

  • The bring your own device (BYOD) to work movement will fill some of the need. Sales and marketing representatives will buy the devices and apps that they need to do their jobs better.
  • Companies will realize that they can sell more of their products and services if their salespeople have tablets and software. The marketplace for tablets and business apps will strengthen.

If you're selling desktop/laptop software that can help salespeople, then consider moving your software to the cloud, or building apps for iOS or Android. That marketplace is growing.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

microISVs, Bands, and Watches

Wearable technology will be a growth area for software developers in the coming years and decades.

Nielsen surveyed 3,956 online users who said that they were interested in connected life technologies. Seventy percent of them were aware of wearable technology. Fifteen percent currently use wearable technology.

Today, fitness bands and smart watches make up the vast majority of wearable tech items. There doesn't seem to be a thriving market for smart toothbrushes that tattle on kids who don't brush long enough.

Twenty-nine percent of the people surveyed reported that they earn more than $100,000(US) per year. Surprisingly, 72 percent of the respondents say that wearables are too expensive.

It's too early to abandon desktop, laptop, smartphone, and tablet software development in favor of programming for wearables. But it's not too early to think about turning your existing applications into money-makers in the growing world of wearable tech.