Monday, April 27, 2015

Software Advertising
is a Monologue

Advertising is a monologue about your brand, Seth Godin tells us in his 2006 book "Small is the New Big." By contrast, a well-structured blog can be a two-way dialogue.

Godin has some strong feelings about branding -

  • Megabrands are shrinking. Fast.
  • People are no longer willing to pay a premium for a well-known brand. This, of course, is good for under-capitalized software developers who have not yet built a famous brand.
  • Smaller brands are exploding.
  • Anybody with a blog can create their own microbrand.

Truth is, brands are still important. And blogs are a great way for small independent software vendors (microISVs) to hold a dialogue about their brands with prospects and customers.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Dull Writing leads to
Low Software Sales

"There are no dull products, only dull writers."

... Quotation  from David Ogilvy from his book "Ogilvy on Advertising"

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

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Planning versus Strategy
for Software Developers

Planning and strategy are different.

That's what John L. Stanton and Richard J. George tell us in their book "Success Leaves Clues - A Marketer's Guide to Winning Strategy."

Strategy answers the "what" and "why" questions. Planning answers the "how" question.

Your strategy is about beating your competitors. You need to learn your strengths and weaknesses, as well as theirs.

Resist the temptation to beat your competitor by simply lowering your prices. Never let price be the criterion that prospects use to choose your software - or your competitor's software.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Software Sales Results Matter

"However beautiful the strategy," Winston Churchill explained, "you should occasionally look at the results."

This lighthearted comment in David Olive's book "A Devil's Dictionary of Business Jargon" has some serious implications for the software development industry. It's all too common for microISVs to write a plan, strategy, or set of goals, and then rarely look at them again. A much better approach is to set goals, craft strategies, and develop plans that guide our day-to-day activities.

On a related note - James Donnelly, the author of the book "Close to the Customer," said "Never define your business in terms of its current products."

That's good software marketing advice.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Selling Software for Kids

It's never simple to sell software designed to be used by children. That's because there are so many people you need to target with your software marketing message: The youngsters, their parents, their teachers, and perhaps their homeschool teachers, grandparents, and other caregivers.

In his book "Why We Buy - The Science of Shopping," Paco Underhill discusses the challenges of dealing with kids in brick-and-mortar stores. Kids play two roles in stores, Underhill explains -

  • If they're the target of the store's marketing, then the store has to welcome them. Otherwise, their parents will immediately figure out that the kids aren't comfortable, and the parents will leave.
  • If kids accompany adults when adults shop for their own wants and needs, then you'd better have a way to keep the children occupied while you're trying to sell to their parents.

It's complicated online, too, whether you're selling educational software or home entertainment applications. You need to design a website sales message that parents and grandparents will appreciate. And you need to have plenty of content designed for the youngsters, so they'll coax their parents to buy your software.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Mobile App Development
for Small Businesses

According to a poll by Endurance International Group (as reported in the April 3, 2015 issue of Processor magazine), 22 percent of small businesses in the US have "created a mobile solution or app."

The reasons cited for not having created a mobile app are:

  • They don't know how to build a mobile app.
  • They're too busy to maintain such an app.
  • The price tag is too high for developing a custom app.
  • The security risks are frightening.

There are a lot of opportunities for experienced developers to create apps for customers. By creating a flexible app design, it might be possible to create look-alike apps for multiple, non-competing customers using most of the same code.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Help Software Prospects Decide

Consumers know that they have choices, Sergio Zyman tells us. But they don't know how to decide.

In his excellent book "The End of Marketing As We Know It," Zyman says that we can help consumers decide. While Zyman's experience is in selling Coca-Cola and not software, he wants us to help prospects decide by defining ourselves, by defining our competitors, and by positioning ourselves in the marketplace.

Most importantly, Zyman believes that we should never let price be "the tiebreaker."

Even if there aren't big differences between your software and the applications that your competitors are offering, make sure you tell your prospects why yours is different - and better. Don't let them define the criteria for comparing your software with your competitors' applications. If you do, many of them will do it on the basis of price. And that's not good software marketing.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Writing Nonsense

"No one sets out to write nonsense. We do it because we're careless with words."

... quotation by Patricia T. O'Conner from her book "Words Fail Me"

To learn more about copyediting, or about O'Conner's book, visit my Software Marketing Glossary.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Photos Help Sell Software

You can sell more products and services if you illustrate your website sales presentations and blog postings with photographs.

Whether you take your own pictures or buy stock photographs, Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman tell us, try to use images that include people. Handley and Chapman are the authors of the 2011 book "Content Rules - How to create killer blogs, podcasts, videos, ebooks, webinars (and more) that engage customers and ignite your business."

I believe that photos are more than space-fillers. They add to the story that you want to tell on your website and blog. And they offer a lot of search engine optimization (SEO) benefits. You can name your images with lots of on-target keywords, and you can use these keywords and key phrases in the images' alt tags, too.

The two main types of photographs are lifestyle and studio. Lifestyle shots are taken in the real world. Studio shots are taken in a photographer's studio, and usually feature white backgrounds, highly posed pictures, and lots of eye contact.

Images add value to PowerPoint slideshows, too. "Pictures add punch to PowerPoint presentations," says Andreas Wulf, owner of Wulfsoft, the firm that markets ShapeChef. "Images are not just space fillers or eye candy. They help drive your message home." ShapeChef makes it simple to add images to PowerPoint slideshows.

Lots of software developers believe that using pictures of people in their sales messages is a tired technique that many prospects reject. I'll believe that when text-only magazines start flying off the newsstands and when radio audience numbers eclipse television viewership figures. Truth is, add people photos to your site, and you'll sell more software.

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Sign of a
Good Software Website

Software developers can sell more application software online if they study how people buy consumer products in retail stores.

Paco Underhill's book "Why We Buy – The Science of Shopping" describes in detail how and why people buy items in retail stores. But the marketing insights that Underhill delivers apply to software marketing online, too. Seemingly insignificant changes to a retail store's layout can result in a large increase or decrease in sales.

For example, changing a retail store's signs can increase or decrease sales. Lots! It stands to reason that the same principles apply to software developers' website layouts, and to their online software sales results.

Speaking of signs in brick-and-mortar stores, Underhill says, "First you have to get your audience's attention. Once you've done that, you have to present your message in a clear, logical fashion."

If you create a sign in a retail store that doesn't get prospects' attention, your message won't be understood and acted upon. If you give retail store prospects too much information, you'll overload them. It's the same online.

Before the Internet, many buying decisions were made at home because consumers were loyal to particular brands. Times have changed. Today, decisions are being made after people arrive at the store – or after they arrive at your site, if they're buying software like yours.

Shoppers are busier than ever. And less patient than ever. They won't let you waste their time on your store floor. Or on your web site.

Underhill explains, "Putting a sign that requires twelve seconds to read in a place where customers spend four seconds is just slightly more effective than putting it in your garage."

On the Internet, you can manage how much time prospects spend on each of your pages. Write well, and software buyers will absorb your sales message more easily, and feel more comfortable about the software products and services that you offer. Write poorly, and your prospects will struggle to figure out what you're saying. Copywriting is a critical part of software marketing. It's a skill that every small independent software vendor (microISV) must master.

Sign placement in a retail store is designed to grab shoppers' attention. This principle also applies to selling software from your website. Learn how prospects scan web pages and you'll increase your software sales.

It's complicated. Software developers have to deal with signs (buttons, images, and text) that say "download" and "buy now." They have to create headers, titles, and navigation bars, And all of these signs need to look good on PC, tablet and smartphone screens.  To discover what works best, developers need to measure their current downloads and sales, tweak their signs, and measure again. It's an iterative process that has be repeated many times.

Underhill ends his "How to Read a Sign" chapter by describing a sign that he really liked. The sign was located in a hotel elevator, and it said, "You Look Famished." Posted below the sign were the menus of several of the hotel's restaurants and bars.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Competing with Yourself
for Additional Software Sales

"They (Procter & Gamble) often enter more than one brand in a category, and allow each brand to compete with its sibling with no holds barred."

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

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

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Windows PC Sales will grow
faster than iOS sales

According to recent growth projections released by Gartner (and reported in Processor Magazine,) Windows PC sales will grow faster than iOS device sales.

Gartner's research director Ranjit Atwal said, "From 2015, we expect Windows to grow faster than iOS, as the PC market stabilizes and the challenge for the next iPhone to find significant growth becomes greater, narrowing the gap between the two operating systems."

Gartner reports that 318 million PCs were shipped in 2014, 321 million will be shipped in 2015, and a projected 333 million will be shipped in 2016.

The shipment numbers for tablets and mobile phones (plus a tiny number of other mobile computers) for the three years are 2.060 billion, 2.148 billion, and 2,239 billion units.

For the past few years, industry pundits have been predicting the demise of the Windows desktop/laptop world. Gartner's projections are much more optimistic. Dabbling in the iOS and Android universes may continue to be attractive for many software developers. Developing for the world of Windows, however, will continue to provide a steady income for many small independent software vendors (microISVs).

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Working Your Prospects' Imaginations

"Good writers make the reader's imagination work for them."

... quotation by Patricia T. O'Conner from her book "Words Fail Me"

To learn more about content, or to learn more about O'Conner's book, visit my Software Marketing Glossary.