Friday, October 31, 2014

Use Marketing
to Make Money

"You don't make any money until you sell the stuff," says Sergio Zyman, the author of the book "The End of Marketing As We Know It."

"And you can't sell the stuff until you've gotten people to want it. And that's what marketing does."

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What Do People Buy From You?

microISVs need to understand the business they're in.

So say John L. Stanton and Richard J. George, the authors of "Success Leaves Clues - A Marketer's Guide to Winning Strategy."

The business that you're in is not what you make. It's what people buy from you. And it's the problem that your product or service solves.

Understanding the business that you're in is very important when you're deciding which application you should develop next. Translated into the software development industry, the questions that Stanton and George want you to ask are:

  • Do I have the ability to develop this new software?
  • Will my software-buying target market buy it?
  • Will the competition allow me to succeed?
  • Can I create this new application and still be consistent with my strategic and financial objectives?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Market to a Woman's
Peripheral Vision

Women and men make buying decisions differently.

So say Faith Popcorn and Lys Marigold in their 2001 book "EVEolution - Understanding Women - Eight Essential Truths that Work in Your Business and Your Life."

Women make 80 percent of all buying decisions. Because of political correctness, marketers have been told that it's wrong to treat women and men differently when it comes to analyzing how they make buying decisions. Finally, somebody has the courage to say that it's important to learn how to market to women.

Chapter 4 of "EVEolution" is entitled "Market to her peripheral vision, and she will see you in a whole new light." Popcorn and Marigold believe that exposure is much more important than the things that marketers have traditionally thought were important. Reach and frequency, the authors tell us, are "false idols." The authors say that recency and visibility are important only if you've picked the right way to be visible.

Women aren't attracted to brands that market too aggressively. Popcorn and Marigold say that women and men react differently to advertising because of different levels of dopamine and serotonin in their brains. This also explains why women can enjoy watching a movie, while men need to click dozens of TV channels every few minutes, the authors claim.

Women are more tuned in to what is going on around them. Hence, peripheral marketing can be effective in delivering a sales message to women.

Popcorn and Marigold tell us to market to women by demonstrating, in a low-key way, that our product or service can make their lives better. Don't scream a sales message at women.

The authors list a few of these peripheral ways of presenting your software to women buyers - licensing, co-branding, co-promotion, event marketing, cause marketing, and product placement. Try some of these (and other) non-traditional ways to market to women, and measure the results. Perhaps add the launching of a strong social marketing campaign to your to-do list, and see if Twitter and Facebook can increase sales by appealing to female prospects' peripheral vision.

Based on this chapter, I think the authors might argue that women are likely to be more impressed by the basic attractiveness of a software website - and less impressed by the techie tricks that seem to be popular today (scrolling images, and windows that expand and contract in unusual ways).

As with all marketing campaigns, measure today's financial results, change something, and measure again.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Editors' Press Release Schedules

Perhaps the question that I get asked most often is, "How long will it take editors to print or post my press release?"

It takes three to four months to get into the monthly print publications. The weekly trade magazines, and the editors who write computer or business columns for daily newspapers, can respond in three to four weeks.

Sometimes the print editors and website editors work together and coordinate the timing of their announcements. With some publications, the online editors can respond almost immediately, while the print editors' write-ups are printed weeks or months later.

Bloggers who aren't affiliated with print or online journals can generally respond much more quickly. But the busy bloggers have a queue, too, and may not be able to respond nearly as quickly as you would expect.

Most editors save all of their incoming news releases for 12 to 24 months. They use them as reference material. And they use them for "roundup articles". These roundup articles have titles such as "The Ten Top Excel Add-Ins" or "This Year's Hottest To-Do Apps for iPhone/iPad".

Launch your software or SaaS with press releases.

Hire a press release professional, and target your news releases at the bloggers and editors who cover software like yours. These journalists can tell thousands of their readers about your program. Press releases cost a fraction of the cost of advertising. Learn more about DP Directory's affordable press release writing and distribution service for software developers.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dealing with Lost Software Sales

When a prospect declines to become a customer, you should keep your composure and respond with "polite appreciation."

That advice comes from Michael LeBoeuf, the author of the book "How to Win Customers and Keep Them for Life." When LeBoeuf wrote his book in 1987, he wasn't thinking about selling on the Internet. And he likely wasn't thinking about the software development industry.

When today's microISVs sell software on the Internet, they probably don't know when a prospect has refused to buy. But there certainly are times when the prospect telephones the developer to say that he or she isn't going to complete the sale. And, unfortunately, the potential sales that usually end in a phone call between a prospect and a software developer are the sales that hurt the most when they fail to materialize - the multi-user license and site license sales.

When a prospect says "no", ask them why. Learn from your mistakes.

The prospect's saying "no" is not a personal attack. Don't take it personally. Don't let your prospect see that you're discouraged.

Persist intelligently, but don't be obsessive about it.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Differentiating Your Software

In recent years, marketing gurus have been telling us that we can differentiate our software products or services by improving our quality, by convincing our customers that we love them, or by running a streamlined company that impresses prospects and customers with our efficiency.

By contrast, Jack Trout tells us in his 2000 book "Differentiate or Die - Survival in Our Era of Killer Competition" that these ideas are old and tired. Trout is not suggesting that you can ignore these three potential differentiators. He's saying that customers expect your products and services to be high quality. They expect you to court and woo your customers. And they expect you to have a slick website, ordering regimen, and communication. You can't skimp on these business tools. But don't expect to get a bump in sales from them, or to use them to differentiate your company from your competitors' firms.

Trout talks about American Airlines and their creation of the first frequent flyers program back in 1983. American Airlines experienced brand loyalty, a rush of customers who previously used competing airlines, and an edge in the marketplace caused by the differentiation that its AAdvantage program offered. And it worked, for a very short period of time.

By 2000, American Airlines had 29 million AAdvantage members. And now all of its competitors have similar programs.

American Airlines is now locked into the program. It would be very painful to eliminate the program. And by keeping the program in place, Trout explains, they annoy many of their steady customers because they have to limit the flights that are available to them under the company's frequent flyers program.

It's not enough to focus on serving the customer, because all of your competitors are doing that, too. You need to differentiate your software from your competitors' applications.

Satisfaction is not the same as commitment, Trout tells us. You can survey your customers, confirm that they are satisfied with your product and service, and they'll still move to your competitors' offerings.

There was a time when improving operational effectiveness could differentiate your company from your competitors. Today, Trout tells us, most firms have focused on improving their operations. As a result, operational effectiveness rarely is a good way to differentiate yourself.

You'll succeed at using customer service to differentiate your software only if your competitors are silly enough to let you do it, Trout explains. To learn more about Trout's feelings about differentiation, please visit the "Differentiation for microISVs Step by Step" posting on this blog.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Better Writing Generates
Higher Software Sales

You can sell more products and services if you improve your writing. So say Robert Gunning and Richard A. Kallan, the authors of "How to Take the Fog out of Business Writing."

Work on your vocabulary, the authors explain. Words sell. If you don't know many words, your sales presentation won't be as effective as it should be.

Figure out the structure and flow of your write-up, the authors urge, before you write the first word. If you're not organized, your message won't be clear and effective.

Most writers think that they can outline and organize in their heads. Most can't.

Based on the software websites that I've reviewed in my "Rent Al's Brain" service, I agree. Most developers would sell more of their software if they spent more time crafting their websites' sales messages.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Telephone Calls Generate Software Sales

"You'll never really understand people unless you go out and meet them." So says Joe M. Gandolfo, an accomplished insurance salesman and one of the sales professionals featured in Robert L. Shook's book "Ten Greatest Salespersons - What They Say About Selling."

Gandolfo's advice about talking with prospects and customers is in stark contrast to the common microISV practice of discouraging people from telephoning them with sales or support questions. Software developers assume that website visitors with questions will email them their queries.

"By asking a lot of questions and then shutting up and listening," Gandolfo explains, "I find that I sell more insurance."

On a related topic, Gandolfo says that demand for his services is high because he sells concepts, and not a specific product. Software developers can deliver a similar message on their websites by offering solutions to business problems, rather than simply selling software applications with particular feature sets.

There are hundreds of great software marketing ideas hidden in sales books that don't immediately appear to be related to the software development industry. It's usually a simple task to translate success stories from other industries into opportunities for increased software sales for microISVs.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Perfect microISV Firm

One of the lessons that Julie Bick learned while working for Microsoft was that there is no need to do everything perfectly. In her book "All I Really Need to Know in Business I Learned at Microsoft - Insider Strategies to Help You Succeed," Bick tells us "Don't be a perfectionist," Bick explains, "if it's not called for."

That doesn't mean that you should release software that has program bugs.

But you need to understand which of the items on your to-do list require perfection, and which tasks don't.

Interested in the thoughts about quality of Robert A. Lutz, the former President and Vice Chairman of Chrysler Corporation? Check out the "quality" entry in my Software Marketing Glossary.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Emotion and Branding

"Emotion is the nub of branding."

... quotation by Phil Dusenberry from his book "Then We Set His Hair on Fire"

To learn more about software branding, or to learn more about Dusenberry's book, visit my Software Marketing Glossary.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Financial Controls, Marketing Budgets,
and Selling More Software

One problem with financial controls, Robert A. Lutz tells us, is that they keep us from pursuing big opportunities. It's easy for the bean counter in the company - or the bean counter in the brain of the owner of a one-person company - to fear a big leap in a new direction.

Financial Controls at Chrysler

Lutz has an entire chapter devoted to the problems of companies' financial controls in his book "Guts - The seven laws of business that made Chrysler the world's hottest car company."

Lutz was the President and Vice Chairman of Chrysler Corporation. The first tale about Chrysler's financial problems - the tale about Lee Iacocca and the $1.2 billion United States loan guarantee - is well known by most business owners. The story of Chrysler's second crisis and recovery in the early 1990s, however, is not as famous. "Guts" is Bob Lutz's story of how he dealt with Chrysler's second crisis, and the business principles that Lutz developed during the crisis.

Another problem that Lutz cites is that financial controls make the current state of our business legitimate. Once controls are in place, we tend to think in terms of changes to our current financial achievements, and that tends to validate numbers which, quite simply, may not be appropriate for a business like ours.

Lutz believes that it's easy to use inappropriate numbers as our baseline, and then delude ourselves into believing that our finances are much better or much worse than they really are.

For example, a software developer might gross $1,000(US) in their first year of business. That may be an encouraging number, or a discouraging one. It depends a lot upon how mature their marketing niche is, and whether or not there's an established brand in that software niche, and whether the niche is growing or stable or declining, and how aggressively their competitors are marketing their software, and many other factors.

Roll the calendar ahead one year. The same software developer has $1,500 in gross income in year two of their business. Lutz would say that their financial system might be telling the developer, "Good job - your income is up by 50 percent". But, in reality, the developer should be disappointed that she or he is still earning hobby income after their second year of business.

Financial Controls at General Electric

General Electric (GE) provides another example of how bad financial controls can deliver bad marketing information, and bad marketing strategies.

Jack Welch tells the story of GE's marketing strategies in his autobiography "Jack - Straight from the Gut." One of the strategies that Welch put in place when he took over General Electric was to only compete in markets where GE could be the number one or number two player.

This resulted in some convoluted definitions that hurt GE's market penetration. For example, in GE's jet engine business, the company defined its market as airplanes that used jet engines that produced between mmm pounds of thrust and nnn pounds of thrust. And GE was the number one seller in this narrowly-defined marketplace.

When Welch forced the corporation to abandon its "number one or two" policy, and redefine the marketplace to be "all jet airplanes", GE realized that it was a relatively small player. And it set its sights on becoming a large player, resulting in hugely increased revenues during the years that followed.

So, I think Lutz and Welch might argue that badly defined financial strategies and policies can hurt a company by making it think that it is much more successful than it really is, or than it might be if it weren't constrained by its self-imposed rules.

Truth is, financial controls are great. But they're a tool. Software developers need to manage them, and not the other way around. Don't let financial controls dictate how your software company should be run.

Software Marketing Budgets

Of all the financial controls that software developers use to regulate their microISV companies, the most abused one is the marketing budget.

Too many lazy marketers create their marketing budget first, and then create their marketing goals and objectives second - if at all. So says Mark Stevens, the author of the book "Your Marketing Sucks." And while Stevens wasn't specifically talking about independent software developers, we see this problem quite a bit in the software development industry.

A developer might raise a question in a forum by asking, "I have a couple hundred dollars to spend this month on marketing. What should I do?"

This is not the right approach to take. Your Adwords budget, your search engine optimization (SEO) purchases, and your press release expenditures should not be dictated by how much money you have left over at the end of a particular month.

microISVs need to set goals, and create a marketing plan and a marketing budget to meet those goals. I'm not suggesting that you ignore your real-world finances when you establish your marketing goals. But you need to plan your marketing objectives before you determine how much money you'll invest in your software marketing efforts.

Make a list of the most important changes or enhancements that you could make to your software marketing -

  • Create a line extension. Spin off a Light version of your application. Or a Professional version. Develop a publicity campaign to tell the world about the new edition of your software.
  • Localize your software and sell it in different languages, countries, and regions. Create a publicity campaign for each new language.
  • Tweak the sales message on your website to make it more effective. Ensure that there's a path through your web pages that each person in your target audience can follow.
  • Do a website makeover, and strengthen your sales message to all of your target markets. Build new landing pages, and make them easy for prospects to find.
  • Develop a positioning strategy that ensures that your programs are attractive to new, untapped audiences. Alert the press in each of your vertical markets about the benefits of your applications.

Marketing Budgets and Selling Soda

Sergio Zyman, the author of "The End of Marketing As We Know It," also believes that most businesses don't know how to set their marketing budgets. Too many firms treat marketing as an expense. They tend to set their marketing spending to some fixed amount, or perhaps to some percentage of their income or profit.

Zyman wants us to treat our marketing expenses as an investment and not as an expense. Instead of thinking about how many additional promotional campaigns we can purchase, Zyman would ask us to think about how many additional software sales we can generate. By treating marketing as an investment, we'll develop more realistic plans to ensure that we spend our marketing budgets wisely.

Marketing budgets and other financial controls need to be an organic part of every microISV's business. Don't just go through the motion of creating these financial documents. Instead, create meaningful tools that will allow you to manage your company's finances, and generate the revenue that you need to make your software development business a success.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Let Your Software Customers Win

Every business has to let its customers win.

So says Ronald A. Nykiel, the author of "You Can't Lose if the Customer Wins - Ten Steps to Service Success."

"It doesn't mean giving away the shop; it means imparting to the customer the perception that he or she is winning."

Some specific tips, translated into the software development industry, include

  • Honor all expired coupons, sales prices, and other offers that are no longer current
  • Upgrade your service levels, but don't raise prices.

Nykiel urges us to think of our business as a series of points of encounter with our customers, and to optimize each one of them to deliver more to our customers. That's good software marketing advice.

There are more insights about the customer's perspective in my Software Marketing Glossary.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A2P SMS Messaging Market Strong

Juniper Research believes that the A2P SMS messaging market will be worth almost $60 billion US dollars by 2018.

Juniper defines A2P as the application-to-person segment of SMS. It involves text messaging between two programs or apps that users have installed on their devices.

Juniper believes that the security-conscious financial institutions have found SMS to be "the most secure and reliable option for A2P communications."

There seem to be some major opportunities in the A2P SMS messaging market for small independent software vendors (microISVs) in the coming years.