Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Is Your Software Too New?

It's good to offer software applications that are new. It's dangerous, however, for companies to sell products or services that are too new.

So say Robert M. McMath and Thom Forbes in their book "What Were They Thinking? Marketing Lessons You Can Learn from Products That Flopped." Unless a new product strikes a "chord of familiarity," the authors explain, it will have difficulty in the marketplace.

It's unlikely that the authors were thinking about the software development industry when they wrote their book. But this principle applies to software developers, too, for a number of reasons:

Search engine friendliness

If you need to describe your unusual software by using unusual words, then people are unlikely to find your website using Google, Bing, or the other search engines.

Software buyers are comfortable typing words into search engines that describe the problem that they're trying to solve, or the result that they're trying to achieve. If the keywords and key phrases that describe your new software application don't fit into this search engine paradigm, then people will be unlikely to type the words into Google or Bing that will send them to your website.

If you've written an unusual, difficult-to-describe program, then compare it to more common applications and explain the differences. This will make it easier for people to find you in the search engines.

For example, if you have a program that is similar to a word processor but which has many additional features, then use phrases such as "Unlike a simple word processing program,..." and "Much more powerful than a word processor,..."

Software download site traffic

Comparing your new program with existing types of applications will make it easier for people to find you on the software download sites. Although fewer and fewer people are visiting download sites to find software, these sites can still generate some interest in your applications.

When you upload your software to the download sites, you have to choose a category for your listing. For your unusual new application, select the category that is closest to the correct one. And use the description field to explain why your program is much more powerful than other applications in that category.

It's unlikely that you'll be able to convince the download site managers that they should create a new category for your exciting new application. It will be a lot easier to shoehorn your program into an existing category, and tout its superior features and benefits.

Pleasing the software editors

Describing your new application as part of an existing category of programs will make it easier for magazine and newspaper editors, columnists, reviewers, and bloggers to tell their readers about your software. McMath and Forbes remind us that we need to communicate clearly. Don't assume that your prospects or customers will understand what you're offering, or how they can use it. Explain everything. Take this same approach when dealing with editors and other members of the press.

Use phrases like "Without having to purchase four separate applications, you can..." to explain why you've characterized your program as a member of one particular category, even though it offers much more functionality than other programs in that category.

The bottom line

There are computer, tablet, and smartphone users who enjoy living at the leading edge of technology. Describing your software as unique will appeal to them.

To sell your application to the largest number of buyers, however, consider a way to find the chord of familiarity that will make prospects comfortable with your latest creation.

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