Monday, September 29, 2014

Dealing with Problems

"It's almost never as bad as you think it is," Julie Bick tells us. Bick is the author of the book "All I Really Need to Know in Business I Learned at Microsoft - Insider Strategies to Help You Succeed."

Bick goes on to say that it's very rare for anger to be the right response to any problem.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Stupid eMarketing

Sergio Zyman and Scott Miller tell us that eMarketing has taken advertising to new heights - of stupidity. Zyman and Miller are authors of the book "Building Brandwidth - Closing the Sale Online."

If the authors were talking about software ads, their message would be simple: If it sells your software, it's good advertising.

Stop measuring reach and eyeballs, the authors explain, and start measuring sales. Period.

Stop being cute, and be clear and direct with your sales message.

Interested in other sales and marketing ideas from Sergio Zyman? Check out some insights from his earlier book "The End of Marketing As We Know It." His ideas, translated into the world of the software development industry, cover brand awareness, purchase intent, share of future purchases, dimensionalizing your software, and more.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Market Growth for SCM Software

Gartner reports that the market for procurement software and supply chain management (SCM) software grew 7.3 percent in 2013. Total 2013 sales were $8.9 billion US dollars.

For me, the most interesting figure in the report was that the top ten software developers of SCM and procurement applications held a total of 55.3 percent of the market. The remaining four billion dollars in software sales each year may provide some great opportunities for small software development companies to get into the SCM software development business.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Phoning the Editors about your Press Release

Don't phone the editors after you've sent them your press release.

Your New Product Announcement has to stand on its own. Your press release's headline has to grab the editor's attention. The text of the news release has to generate two responses: (1) My readers will likely be interested in this software, and (2) I can print and post this press release without doing a lot of rewriting.

Editors don't like to edit. Actually, editors are very busy people, and they appreciate receiving professionally-crafted press releases that don't have errors in grammar, usage, or agreement.

Editors tell me that the typical follow-up phone call starts with "Hi, this is Joe Smith from Widget Corp. Last week I emailed you a news release about our new Widget application. Did you receive it?" And the editor says, "I don't know," or "Probably," or "It's in the process of being evaluated." Then the developer asks if the news release will be printed or posted, and the editor mumbles something incoherent about lead-times and editorial panels. And both the developer and the editor hang up their phones, annoyed at each other.

Unless you have a different conversation in mind, don't call the editors. If an editor wants an evaluation copy of your application, they'll ask you. If they want to print or post your announcement and they have a question or two, they'll reply to your email.

Be sure your press release does its job, and you'll never have to telephone members of the press.

Learn more about using news releases to sell more software. Visit my press release website.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Failure of
Old-School Marketing

Book review of The End of Marketing as We Know It by Sergio Zyman (published 2000 by HarperBusiness, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers).

"The End of Marketing as We Know It" is a must-read for any microISV selling consumer software. It will help sharpen developers' software marketing skills.

Sergio Zyman is known as the person responsible for replacing Coke with New Coke. Zyman left The Coca-Cola Company after the New Coke release, and returned to the Coca-Cola company six years later as Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. In that capacity, Zyman increased the sales of Coke by 50 percent in five years, from ten billion cases per year to 15 billion cases.

Zyman believes strongly that marketing is all about selling things. Marketing has nothing to do with image.

Old school marketing fails, in large part, because marketers are too full of themselves. The discipline of marketing is a science, Zyman believes. Spending money on marketing is an investment that has to more than pay for itself. Marketing is about "systematically and thoughtfully coming up with plans and taking actions that get more people to buy more of your product more often, so the company makes more money." Period. Even though Zyman doesn't write about the software development industry, many of his ideas apply to software marketing.

Unfortunately, many microISVs look at marketing as an afterthought. The mindset too often is "I have a few hundred dollars, so maybe I'll do some marketing." Instead, software developers should treat marketing as an investment. Developers need to focus on results.

Marketing budgets shouldn't be arbitrary, or based upon a percentage of retail sales. Instead, microISVs need to focus on how many new sales you can get, and how much it will cost to get these new sales.

I was fascinated by Zyman's approach to seasonality. Unless you have one hundred percent of market share, you should always try to increase market share in traditionally low periods. "Make seasonality the other guy's problem," Zyman urges.

Zyman believes that it's much easier to sell additional products to existing customers than to convince new prospects to buy your products. If he were marketing software, I'd bet that he'd be sending out a regular newsletter, and that he'd be a regular blogger. His newsletter and blog might invite customers to upgrade to a more powerful version of the software that they'd already bought. And it would mention the exciting features that can be found in his company's other software applications. Zyman would probably be offering discounts on other people's software, too, under an affiliate relationship with developers who market similar, non-competing applications.

Zyman doesn't care for megabrands. He believes that you have to differentiate and target specific audiences. In fact, Zyman believes that it's a good idea to have overlapping products that appeal to the same target audience. "Somebody is going to compete with your products and try to steal your customers," Zyman reminds us. "If someone's going to do it, why shouldn't it be you?"

While Zyman admits that the power of consumers continues to rise, and that consumers know that they have choices, he believes that most consumers "have no idea how to decide." Marketing in general - and software marketing in particular - is all about helping consumers make these decisions.

Zyman cautions, "Don't let price be the tiebreaker". Instead, educate prospects on why they should buy your software.

In the author's own words: "Marketing is about spending money on activities that enhance the value of your product, brand, or service and give consumers more reason to buy more of it, more often. It is an investment. It is not an expense that you have the option of cutting. If you want to grow, you have to market."

"The End of Marketing as We Know It" is a must-read for anybody who sells software to consumers. If you're selling business applications, or if you're selling services, you'll have to do a little translating of Zyman's consumer-oriented strategies. Software developers can use this book to strengthen their software marketing.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Software Profits

microISVs need to pay more attention to their companies' profits.

Software sales are nice. So are downloads and website traffic. But profits really matter. Profits should be at the center of your software marketing efforts.

In his book "Guerrilla Marketing Excellence," Jay Conrad Levinson tells business managers and entrepreneurs to focus on profit. Levinson's advice certainly applies to microISVs in the software development industry, too.

Levinson suggests a number of ways to increase profits. Translated into the software development industry, Levinson's key suggestions are -

(1) Tout benefits

It's critical to tell your prospects about your software's major benefits. And explain to them that your software application is unique. This is a powerful software marketing technique, and one that microISVs should use on their websites, in their newsletters, in their press releases, and on their blogs. Start your software marketing message by putting your application in context, and by explaining why your program is different from - and better than - your competitors' software. Create customer expectations for software like yours that your competitors simply can't match.

(2) Ask for the software sale

Levinson recommends that you craft a marketing message in which you ask for the sale, versus a software marketing technique in which you tell a nice story about your program and hope that the prospect can figure out that they should buy it.

(3) Minimize risks

It's important to remove as much risk as possible from the prospect's decision-making. Offer a money-back guarantee. Make them know that their feelings are important to you.

(4) Say why your software is best

Tell prospects why they should buy software applications from you.

(5) Test your product write-ups

Test. Test your sales message. Test everything. Software developers can easily set up an A-B test on their websites, and accurately measure the results.

(6) Write great headlines

Practice writing powerful headlines. In your news releases, headlines are very important. They're crucial on websites, blogs, and newsletters, too.

(7) Test price points

Test your software prices. And don't hesitate to raise your software prices if they need tweaking.

(8) Write long sales presentations

Don't be afraid to craft longer sales messages. I agree with Levinson - a long, well-structured, well-written webpage can sell more software, especially if you're targeting a business audience.

The bottom line

Don't ignore software sales, downloads, and website traffic. Monitor the activities on the social media sites. But focus on profits.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Beta Testing and Software Success

"Manufacturers who don't test their products incur the colossal cost of having their products fail on a national scale instead of dying inconspicuously and economically in test markets."

... quotation by David Ogilvy from his book "Confessions of an Advertising Man"

To learn more about software beta testing, visit my Software Marketing Glossary.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Internet of Things (IoT) Projections

One in ten of the software developers reading this blog posting will be developing software for the Internet of Things (IoT) by 2019.

ABI Research believes that more than three million developers, or roughly ten percent of all software developers, will be working on IoT projects by 2019. By the end of 2014, ABI tells us, 1.7 million developers will be programming IoT activities.

A number of factors will account for the growth of IoT activities. The company cites the recent release of application development kits, the production of sensors and sensor engines, the price drops in 3D printers, and crowdfunding platforms that make it easier for IoT projects to get operating revenue.

ABI Research's Dan Shey warns that the marketplace will expect polished software products from developers. "Consumers will shun away from anything that is not inspiringly designed and robustly produced."

Monday, September 8, 2014

microISV Web Pages
Get Scanned, Not Read

Few website visitors will take the time to read every word on your site. So says Steve Krug, the author of the book "Don't Make Me Think." microISVs should design their web pages for both scanning and for reading.

Krug discusses five design principles that will help business people - including software developers - sell more of their products and services:

(1) Show prospects your page's structure.

Give your website visitors a visual tree of each page's structure. Use headers to define the structure and flow of each web page. Group things together that belong together. The directory tree structure that is second nature to most microISVs is intuitive for non-developers, too. Use it.

(2) Take advantage of OS conventions.

Most of your website visitors understand website navigation conventions under Windows, OS X, or some other operating system. Take advantage of this knowledge. Make your website "standard" so most visitors will know immediately how to navigate it.

Krug says that it's okay to innovate when you have a really good idea. Absent a blockbuster navigation innovation, however, follow standard conventions and take delight in your prospects' knowledge about how to navigate your site.

(3) Divide pages into logical sections.

Before you start writing the text for any web page, lay out a logical design that will help prospects make a buying decision. Create a separate path to lead each group of targeted prospects to purchase your application.

(4) Make your hyperlinks obvious.

Don't make your prospects guess which objects change on mouse-over. Use bold, italics, and color for emphasis. Use underlining for links.

(5) Eliminate distractions.

Keep your text short and crisp. Use images to augment your sales message.

Stop designing web pages that demonstrate how well you understand the latest web technology. Start designing web pages that nudge prospects to buy your software.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Promise of Advertising

"Advertising which promises no benefit to the consumer does not sell, yet the majority of campaigns contain no promise whatever."

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

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

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Internet of Things (IoT)

Gartner predicts that the Internet of Things (IoT) will grow from its current one billion devices to 25 billion in 2020. There could be a lot of opportunities for small, independent software developers (microISVs) to develop software to help manage all of this information. Humankind might not be able to cope with having to look at two different web pages to find out if our electric toothbrush needs charging, and if we forgot to turn on the clothes dryer after filling it with wet towels.

It's hard to imagine having 25 billion devices connected to the Internet without having apps that make it easy to manage an individual's computers and toaster ovens. One quarter of the 2020 devices will be tablets, smartphones, and other mobile instruments. The other three quarters of the connected devices will be home electronic products plus healthcare and insurance industry devices.

It could be a bit too early to start designing IoT apps. But it might be a good use of software developers' time to stay current with this growing movement. It will have a huge impact on the software development industry in the coming decades.