Marketing should never be static – there’s a reason I always emphasize the circular, iterative nature of my 7-step marketing strategy process.
7-Step Marketing Strategy Process
A strong marketing program must always start with a careful analysis of your target customer niche, their problems and pain points, and other solutions in the marketplace. Once you fully understand the customer problem and available competitive solutions, then you can write your Unique Selling Proposition (USP).
Your USP is the one most important piece of content to drive your marketing.
Many of our clients turn to Software Marketing Advisor to help better craft their USP and marketing messaging. Our Marketing Strategy Review service helps optimize your USP and messaging.
What’s so different about marketing business-to-business (B2B) anyway?
I’ve spent most of my career in marketing of business software and services, so I get asked this question a lot. How is marketing business software different from marketing a consumer app?
There’s actually some significant differences, and if you don’t remember that then you’re not likely to be successful with your marketing.
Here’s a list of the top 5 challenges in selling B2B software rather than consumer:
Selling a Solution — If you’re selling a business app, then you have to sell a solution to a problem, not a piece of software. Ideally, you can tie the use of your software to a solution to one of the top three problems that keeps your target user awake at night. And then market that solution…
More Than One Buyer – the purchase or adoption decision for a business application often involves more than one person. You don’t only have to market to potential users, but you also have to include messaging for other stakeholders, such as group manager, execs, purchasing manager or CFO, etc.
Aligning the Ecosystem – If you’re marketing a solution (see #1), as you should, then sometimes that solution involves more than just your product. For example, when I was working for Intel we had to focus on software marketing with partners in order to convince users to buy a new PC – they don’t buy hardware, they buy software. So figure out which companies sell the other pieces to your solution, and approach then to do joint marketing.
Longer Sales Cycle – for a typical business software purchase, it’s not as easy as having the user visit your website, read your great sales copy, and click to purchase or sign up. Even for a small purchase they may need to get their manager’s approval, or perhaps it needs to be included in the next budget cycle or reviewed with other stakeholders. That all takes time.
Supporting Content Matters – B2B buyers expect to find good-quality marketing content about your software. At the least you should have a professional brochure, some case studies and testimonials, and a product data sheet. You can also write and publish white papers to market to your audience.
What is the biggest mistake that software marketers make?
Promoting their app!
Yes you heard that right…. the biggest mistake that software marketers make is focusing too much on promoting their app.
But isn’t that what software marketers are supposed to do?
Unless you’re selling a game or other impulse-purchase entertainment-related app, you should be marketing a solution, not a piece of software. As soon as you start to think about it that way, it will change your mindset: You will put yourself in your customer’s shoes, and think about why they need this solution, what problem it solves…. These are your key marketing messages.
So stop marketing your app features… Instead, market a solution to your customer’s problem. You’ll be surprised how much more engagement you get.
For more help with marketing, try out our 7-Step Software Marketing Toolkit. We’re running a special right now, so you can get a 3-month marketing campaign for the price of just one month. Check out the 7-Step Marketing Toolkit here.
Currently, the leading platforms for mobile app developers are iPhone and iPad (ie, iOS devices) and Android smartphones and tablets. As a developer of mobile apps, do you choose one platform to focus your app development efforts on, or do you support both? And what about the other mobile platforms such as Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7, and BlackBerry?
In making that decision, do you look at which platform has the largest installed base? Or do you go by which platform is currently shipping the largest volume of units? Or what about which platform has the highest overall in-app usage time? The answers vary drastically depending on how you frame the question.
Most of the published data on mobile share focuses on platform market share, which shows a rapid increase of Android compared to iOS. However, an article published by Business Insider in March instead considered the amount of actual time spent online as a proxy for app usage, which paints a very different picture with iOS clearly dominating.
At first glance, this type of data may give a developer of mobile apps pause: Should one be prioritizing an Android version over iOS or vice versa?
With all the talk of platform market share, what many of us forget is that the relevant question is the market share of mobile app usage time. After all, that is what users will ultimately pay the app developer for. Silicon Alley Insider’s chart of the day from March 13 2012 instead tells the real story of Android versus iOS.
The chart from ComScore shows the digital traffic market share of connected devices by OS in the US – it’s a very different story than what’s told by the device platform market share where Android shipments are now dominating. When you look at it by digital traffic – the actual mobile Web usage – the picture changes, with iOS dominating at 60% and Android far behind at only 32%. Similarly, Net Applications finds iOS has a 4.4x larger web share than Android. On top of that, a number of studies have also found that iOS users are much more likely to pay for apps or make in-app purchases. On average, developers make 6x more on iOS apps for the equivalent app.
This data seems to clearly indicate that the first platform of choice for a mobile app should still be iOS.
So if you develop mobile apps, what choices do you make? Please vote in our poll:
It’s now 2012… do you have an updated business plan or marketing plan to address the new decade?
If you’re a software company, the industry is changing with the move to SaaS, mobile apps, outsourcing and other trends. It’s important to make sure you have a current business plan to make sure you’re positioned to take optimal advantage of these changes.
Check the links to the right, and take advantage of our SaaS business plan template, or the Software Company business plan template, and get started optimizing your business today!
For small/medium software companies, what are the best marketing strategies? Of course, that does depend on your market segment.. but there are still some key strategies that make sense for almost all software or services firms:
How useful is competitive analysis? As Michele Linn points out in her latest post “Five Key Questions Your B2B Competitive Analysis Should Answer” in her Savvy B2B Marketing blog, sometimes competitive analysis can lead to dead-end marketing strategies that are just copying your competition’s moves. A business version of “keeping up with the Jones’s”.
The best competitive strategy is to try to re-invent or re-define your category so that you are the market leader… a lot of great examples of companies that are out there that have done that.
Copying competitors won’t get you there… but competitive analysis can help you determine the best way to really crystallize your target subsegment that has you as the de facto leader…
So, yes, if you are selling software products or services, do invest some time in software marketing research to better understand your competitors. But instead of trying to follow them, use that information to develop strategies that truly differentiate you within your target segment.