Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mass Marketing is Over

Sergio Zyman says that mass marketing is a thing of the past.

In five years, Zyman took Coca-Cola's sales from ten billion cases a year to fifteen billion cases a year. During the same period, the company's market value grew from $40 billion (US) to $160 billion. So, I tend to listen to Zyman's pronouncements about marketing.

Mass marketing

Sergio Zyman and Scott Miller, in their book "Building Brandwidth - Closing the Sale Online," say that mass marketing has been replaced by one-to-one marketing.

The two elements of mass marketing, according to Zyman and Miller, are

  • Crafting one message for everybody, and
  • Dumbing the message down to the audience which is least able to figure out what you're selling.

One-to-one marketing

Software developers need to target specific groups of prospects, and deliver a sales message that each group will find attractive. These sales messages must keep prospects engaged as long as possible, because that makes it more likely that they'll buy from us.

Your website needs to have separate sales pages for each audience that you're targeting. And you need to establish a home page regimen that allows prospects to determine which target group they belong to. They need to easily find a page that speaks to them in a language that they'll understand.

Targeting multiple audiences

For example, if you're selling network administration software, then you need to target experienced network admins who know what they're doing, as well as newbies who earned the Network Administrator title a few days ago. If you write a single page for both audiences, you'll miss an opportunity to sell more of your software. The experienced people don't need the kind of hand-holding that the newbies need. And the newbies won't understand the language or technology that the experienced network administrators need to make a buying decision.

In addition, you need a page that targets computer consultants. And, no doubt, there are other target audiences that need to have a message that's tailored to their needs.

Do you have a particularly challenging audience of prospects? A mixed bag of potential customers with different needs? I'll help you design a series of sales messages to reach a wide range of your prospective clients. Visit the "Rent Al's Brain" page on my website to learn more.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Starting Your
Software Sales Presentation

"Don't start out by clearing your throat." So says Patricia T. O'Conner in her book "Words Fail Me."

Don't start your software sales presentation by saying "Welcome to my website." Start by describing your software's most compelling benefit.

Learn more about clearing your throat. Learn more about Patricia O'Conner's book. Visit my Software Marketing Glossary to learn how to sell more software.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Privacy Attitudes
and Software Development

In a recent Harris Interactive survey, they asked 2,100 adult Americans about their concerns about online privacy. Ninety-nine percent of the people care about their privacy online. Seventy-one percent care deeply about it.

When asked about the online platforms that they are concerned about most, the responses were:

  • Social media networks like Facebook - 66%
  • Email - 56%
  • Web browsers - 52%
  • Search engines - 45%
  • Social photo-sharing platforms like Instagram - 35%
  • Mobile apps - 30%
  • Online dating apps - 27%
  • Instant messaging apps like What's App - 23%
  • Micro-blogging sites like Twitter - 23%
  • Disappearing photo-sharing apps like Snapchat - 22%
  • Smart wearable devices like Google Glass - 18%
  • Online games - 17%

According to an article in the September 19, 2014 issue of Processor Magazine, a study by Rad Campaign, Lincoln Park Strategies, and craigconnects found that while 33% of users between 55 and 64 don't trust social networking sites, only 12% of users younger than 35 mistrust these sites.

What does all of this privacy data mean for software developers? Privacy is important. There are a lot of people who won't buy your software unless you convince them that you've protected their privacy.

As with most marketing issues, this doesn't mean that software developers should simply tout the strength of their privacy regimens. It means that developers should build rock-solid privacy into their software, and then describe it convincingly on their Internet product pages. Marketing starts with software design, and should never be the coat of paint that you add after you've crafted your application.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Converting Software Prospects
to Customers

"Persuasion isn't converting people to your way of thinking. It's converting people to your way of feeling and believing."

... quotation by Michael LeBoeuf from his book "How to Win Customers and Win Them for Life"

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

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Battery Power is Growing

Batteries are getting better. If you've had an idea for a laptop application or a smartphone app, but you've been reluctant to develop it because you worry that it would consume too much battery power on your users' devices, then the solution is right around the corner.

According to ABI Research, as reported in a recent issue of Processor Magazine, both battery technology and charging technology are getting better. Today's Lithium and graphite batteries are being replaced by new batteries that use silicon anode, Germanium, and pure Lithium. And these new technologies offer much better battery life.

There's good news in the world of battery charging, too. ABI Research points out that the future will include affordable "multi-device inductive charging mats,...ambient radio frequency energy harvesting and dedicated beamed radio frequency energy."

ABI says that the typical "advanced market home" has more than 10 devices such as laptops, smartphones, wearables, and tablets. By 2019, they estimate that there will be 8 billion of these devices in use.

New battery and new battery charging technologies will make these devices more useful. And these technologies will make it more attractive for software developers to write and market software for these devices.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Your Tiny Software Marketplace

There is no software marketplace. What we call the software marketplace is made up of thousands of tiny niches, each with its own issues and problems. It's not always possible to take good advice from a microISV in one marketing niche, and apply this wisdom to a different part of the software development industry.

America is not one big economic marketplace, either. So says Phil Dusenberry, the author of the book "Then We Set His Hair on Fire - Insights and Accidents from a Hall-of-Fame Career in Advertising." America is a collection of tiny economies.

Dusenberry talks about the difficulties of managing what he calls the "parity economy". The parity economy is a world in which consumers simply can't understand why your software product or service is better or worse than the dozens of products your competitors offer. The challenge for all product and service providers - including microISVs in the software development industry - is to craft and build a brand that is perceived to be better than the competition.

Parity of products soon becomes parity of advertising messages, Dusenberry believes. Competing firms recite the same tired cliches, over and over. Phrases such as "strongest" and "fastest" and "longest-lasting" and "most reliable" and "friendliest" don't have the strength that they had in earlier decades. Me-too, copy-cat marketing and advertising have left consumers numb.

Your competitor adds a secret ingredient to their laundry detergent (or to their software application), so you add a secret ingredient, too. And both companies lose because consumers don't have any faith in either of your advertisements or marketing messages.

Dusenberry talks about HBO's success in a crowded marketplace. Turn back the clock and imagine a market in which people expect television content to be free. To enjoy HBO's programming, consumers not only had to pay for cable service, but they also had to buy HBO's premium service at an additional cost. HBO was able to differentiate their service and become very successful. Interestingly, they used the tag line "It's not TV, it's HBO."

For many months, Wendy's sold more of their burgers and shakes by taking a similar approach to advertising. Their tag line was "Wendy's - it's way better than fast food."

Perhaps software companies need to take this approach. Separate your brand from the rest of the try-before-you-buy market by finding a tag line that encourages people to buy your application without trying it first.

Dusenberry believes that it's not possible to explain your way to strong market penetration and sales. In his words, you must "create a dramatic showcase that appeals to the consumer emotionally and, more importantly, entices the consumer to enter the picture."

Dusenberry believes that the key is to marry logical persuasion with emotional drama. On a lighter note, Dusenberry's advice to firms with too many competitors and no way of differentiating their product or service from the others - buy the other companies.

Short of that, software developers should recognize that there is no such thing as a software marketplace. At best, there is a marketplace for, say, Android smartphone and tablet software that lets home-schooling parents help youngsters aged five through seven learn the multiplication tables.

Define your marketing niche, and find a way to shout that your software is not like the other commodities that consumers have seen. It's good software marketing to say that your application is in a class of its own.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Tablet Sales Growth Slows

According to Gartner (as reported in the November 14, 2014 issue of Processor Magazine), tablet sales have slowed. Lots.

Between 2012 and 2013, tablet sales grew 55%. During the 2013 to 2014 time frame, the number slowed to 11%.

Some users are replacing their tablet with a hybrid or two-in-one device, Gartner's Ranjit Atwal explains.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Sending Thank-You Notes
to the Editors

If an editor prints information from your press release, then send them a thank-you note.

Editors are busy people, but they certainly welcome the courtesy of a "thank you" email. Such a note will help them remember you. And that type of name recognition will help you the next time you send them a press release.

Receive your share of free publicity from magazines, blogs, and newspapers.

The news release that you send to the English-language computer magazines and bloggers has to convince them that English is your first language. The editors and bloggers won't do the work required to fix your grammar, spelling, sense, agreement, or vocabulary. Hire a press release professional who will write a news release that the editors can use.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Don't Pitch your Software. Improvise!

Book Review of Ditch the Pitch - The art of improvised persuasion by Steve Yastrow (January 2014)

The vast majority of software sales by small independent software vendors (microISVs) take place on the Internet. And the primary sales tool is the Internet product page. The truth is, however, that selling face-to-face or over the phone brings in a substantial part of the income of the most successful microISVs. And when you're speaking to your prospect, either in person or on the phone, sales pitches don't work.

If you're marketing a $29(US) Windows utility, then you're not going to be negotiating very many single-user license sales over the phone or in person. But over the years, software developers find themselves negotiating lucrative multi-user and site licenses on the phone. Developers are also contacted because prospects want a private label version of the developer's application.

In addition to negotiating these high-dollar contracts with prospects, microISVs find themselves talking at industry conferences or on the phone with fellow developers about selling each other's software on an affiliate basis. They negotiate programming contracts with business people, and bundling contracts with software publishers. Many types of unexpected opportunities routinely arise in the course of a software developer's career.

All of these conversations need to take place over the phone or in person. And as Steve Yastrow, the author of the book Ditch the Pitch, points out, sales pitches don't work. Prospects don't want to hear them. Prospects are not persuaded by them. It's time to ditch the pitch.

"You don't know what's going to happen in a situation requiring persuasion," Yastrow explains, "so going in with a pre-scripted pitch will leave you less prepared, not more prepared."

The proper course of action is to improvise. Make it up as you go. Listen to the other person, and tailor your knowledge of the product or service that you offer to what your prospect is telling you.

This principle applies both to sales pitches and to every instance where we want to persuade another person to do something. The best solution is to engage in conversations that build relationships - and sales. If you want to sell custom versions of your software, provide vendors with white-box versions of applications with their names on the program, or engage in other collaboration with industry members, then don't waste time developing sales pitches. Instead, learn to improvise and sell persuasively.

Yastrow's book was not written with the software development industry in mind. But all of the principles that he espouses apply to our industry as well. Prospects, regardless of the business that they're in, know when you're delivering a sales pitch. Hearing your pitch immediately causes them to become wary of what you're saying - and selling.

Sales pitches are a one-way process, Yastrow explains. People care about themselves a lot more than they care about the product or service that you're selling. Talk with customers, Yastrow urges. Ditch the pitch.

You may think that your sales presentation is interactive because you ask a lot of questions. But it's really more like an interview than a conversation. Your prospect wants to talk about herself. Let her.

"Most successful selling and persuasion isn't about convincing," Yastrow tells us. "It's about diagnosing. If you are pitching, it is only a coincidence if the pitch you toss at your customer lands in the right place."

The author wants us to replace our sales pitches with persuasive conversations. Stop thinking about what you want to say. Start thinking about getting into a conversation with your prospect.

Sales pitches dominate the conversation. The prospect feels like it's hard to be heard. A successful conversation, by contrast, is built on your skill at improvisation.

Truth is, if a software developer's website has the information that a prospect needs to make a buying decision, they probably wouldn't be phoning you with questions. So, it makes no sense to deliver a canned sales pitch to somebody who calls you with queries. You need to engage them in a fresh conversation, and you have to respond to their needs and concerns.

Yastrow believes that improvisation is the key to creating persuasive conversations. It's simple: Learn to improvise better, and you'll increase your sales.

"You have to develop the fluency to adjust to the nuances of the moment," Yastrow explains, "and the flexibility to adapt to whatever situation you find yourself in with your customer. You must learn to improvise."

To be good at improvisation, you have to be alert and flexible. The book quotes Mick Napier, the founder of Annoyance Theater in Chicago: "Improvisation is the art of not knowing what you are going to do or say next, and being okay with that."

Don't worry about making mistakes, Yastrow insists. Chances are, you'll do fine. And if you don't, you can recover with more improvisation. An improvised conversation in which you make a number of mistakes will outsell a one-size-fits-all canned sales pitch that you've memorized and recited.

To become good at improvising, you don't have to be quick-witted. You have to learn the habits of good improvisation, and you have to practice. Ditch the Pitch discusses six habits that sales people need to master to become good at starting and sustaining persuasive conversations with prospects. For each of the six essential habits, Yastrow provides three ways to practice your skills. The book is full of convincing examples from the author's experience as a management consultant that illustrate the power of engaging prospects in a dialog about their needs. You'll also learn to weave into the conversation the features and benefits of the product or service that you're marketing.

If Yastrow were talking to the owners of small software development firms, I believe he would be urging them to say "Call for information about multi-user and site licensing" and "Call to learn more about partnering with our company to create a private label version of this application." Don't try to write a sales pitch for these important sales. Ditch the pitch, and start a conversation with your prospect.

This book will help owners of small software development companies build their sales. It's not a get rich quick scheme. It's an outline for a series of habits and skills that will increase the persuasiveness of the conversations that you have about your software and your business. The book weighs in at 150 pages. It's a quick read, full of good ideas.

Friday, January 2, 2015

SmartPhone Market Growth

According to an IDC mobile phone forecast, Smartphone market growth is a mixed bag.

In mature markets, 2014 year-over-year growth has slipped to 4.9%. By contrast, the growth level is 32.4% in emerging markets.

The average price for a smartphone in mature markets is more than $400(US). By contrast, the average smartphone costs less than $250(US) in emerging markets.

During 2014, IDC predicts that 1.25 billion smartphones will be sold worldwide. This is a 23.8% increase over 2013. By 2018, IDC expects the number to grow to 1.8 billion smartphones.