Archive for the 'technology marketing' Category



Using Competitive Analysis to Lead Your Target Subsegment

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.

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What NOT to Post on your Customer Blog

OK, here’s one of my pet peeves: if you have a blog or a twitter account linked from your business website, make sure the posts and tweets are targeted to your customers and what they care about.

Seems obvious, right?

But I see so many small technology and software companies that use their blog to discuss the trials and tribulations of being a startup rather than addressing the customer pain point that they designed their product to solve in the first place.

If you want to write about the experience of running your business, and share best practices with others, then by all means have a separate blog. But don’t think your customers could care less! Even worse, you don’t want them seeing your dirty laundry (why tell them about the firefighting you were doing yesterday to deal with the outage you had…?).

Make sure you have a customer-focused blog on your website, with posts that are of interest to your customer. Try to weave your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) through the blog, while making sure not to appear too salesy. Your blog should contain additional helpful information, tips, and product-related announcements that your customers and prospects will find useful.

Keeping Your Focus…

What’s the most important factor in product planning and sales/marketing for a technology startup?

In one word: FOCUS…

As a startup, especially in the technology space, it’s too easy to start thinking up all the exciting new usage models using your technology. Before you know it, you’re running three businesses when you should be focused on getting one off the ground.

How to deal with all those cool ideas that come into your head at the most inopportune moments?

Keep a notebook… that way, when you’re ready to grow the business you have some seeds of ideas to use as a starting point. But when you’re just starting out, it’s key to just pick one and FOCUS on it until it’s a paying business.

Who is the Audience for your Marketing Messages?

For marketing messages to be effective, you need to really think about who it is that you are speaking to. Too many marketers only think about a single audience for their message: the end customer. The end customer may be your primary audience, but they are not the only one.

marketing message audienceThere are a number of other audiences that may need marketing messages crafted specifically for them, including:

  • Online influencers, such as prominent bloggers in your field, influential websites and analysts,
  • Distribution channels,
  • Sales and marketing partners,
  • the press and media,
  • your ecosystem partners, such as complementary software vendors, hardware vendors or system integrators,
  • other key stakeholders that your end customer looks to for guidance or approval on their buying decision (this is especially important for B2B applications).

Your end customer will be influenced not only by your marketing messages directly targeted at them, but also by these other stakeholders and influencers. The more consistent messages they receive from different channels, the more likely they are to make a positive buying decision in your favor.

Bottom line: when crafting your marketing messages and marketing plan, don’t forget to build target messaging and budget marketing activities for all audiences that are important in influencing your customer’s purchase decision.

Get Your Software Marketing Plan in Order

It’s December already… a good time to be thinking about your software marketing approach for 2010. Hopefully the economy will be picking up, customers will be looking for options, and you need to make sure your product is top-of-mind when they get into a buying mood.

At Software-Marketing-Advisor.com, we have just released our detailed, professional software marketing plan template package. It gives you all the pieces you need to easily put together a customized marketing strategy and plan for your software product, and we’ve even thrown in free consulting as well. You can check out the Software Marketing Plan package here.

How Important is it to be First?

first, winner, first to market, trophyI’ve started re-reading a useful little marketing strategy book I own: “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing” by Al Ries and Jack Trout.

Their first “law” is the Law of Leadership: it’s better to be first than it is to be better, they claim.

They give the example of Charles Lindbergh as the first person to fly the Atlantic solo. Have you ever heard of the second person, Bert Hinkler, even though he was able to fly faster & consumed less fuel? Probably not.

That got me thinking… is that law always true, and are there any exceptions to it? I think it’s a good rule of thumb, but we have to be careful applying it to technology products: There are times in technology marketing when being the first to market is not the best choice (for example, if the technology is not yet mature enough, or the supporting infrastructure isn’t ready for a compelling usage model yet). It has to be a strategic decision, with this as one consideration.

However, thinking about this “law” in terms of how to position your product or service makes a lot of sense: if you’re launching a project management software product it may not be smart to go head-to-head with Microsoft Project as a meets-all-needs basic project planning tool. Better to find a specific market segment where you have enough unique value or unique features to be the “first” to really solve their particular problems. Get traction and success in that subsegment, then you can grow from there.

How to Make Sense of Web Analytics

web analytics, marketing data, charts
If you’re wondering how to make more effective use of web analytics data (aren’t we all?), then this upcoming free webinar looks like it could be a useful one to check out.

Avinash Kaushik is presenting on “Actionable Web Analytics: Five Tips for Insightful Analysis”. In today’s tough economic climate it is not the lack of data on the web that is a problem, it is our ability to make sense of it all that is the challenge. In this deeply practical webinar Avinash shares his favorite tips for taking reams of data from your website and finding the nuggets of actionable insights in it. Bounce rates, segmentation, pan-session behavior analysis, key non-ecommerce success metrics and more strategies will be covered. You’ll walk away knowing how to improve marketing efficiency, drive insights into consumer behavior, and generate greater returns on your online investments.

Avinash Kaushik is the Analytics Evangelist for Google, and has published a couple of books on web analytics. It looks to be a worthwhile webinar, so check it out.

Bringing a Service Approach to Technology Marketing

On ebizQ, Phil Wainewright’s interview with the CEO of HelpStream, Bob Warfield, focuses on Social CRM and bringing a services ethos to sales and marketing.

With the rapid growth of social media, interacting with your end users and delivering customer-focused services are fundamental to technology marketing today. That’s true whether you deliver an end-to-end solution directly to end users, or are an ingredient technology supplier. Marketing must take a services approach…. in fact, that service ethose must permeate throughout the business.

I highly recommend listening to Phil’s podcasts to learn more.

Why Having a Marketing Strategy Can Save You Money

When it comes to planning your marketing activities, do you take a strategic or a tactical approach?

Or in other words… Do you have a plan for how your marketing will really impact your customer purchase decisions? Or do you just “shoot from the hip” in your marketing decisions?

Too many companies fall into the second category, especially technology focused firms (to whom marketing may not be second nature).

It may seem like a waste of time to sit down and plan out your software marketing strategy, but the fact is that doing so will make your marketing signficantly more impactful and will save a lot in your marketing budget in the long run.

Trade shows are just one excellent example… they’re very expensive, but many tech companies continue with that large expense in their marketing budget just because “we always have” and “our competitors have a booth there.” Neither of those are good reasons, unless you’ve really done the strategic analysis of how your presence at the tradeshow can influence your customer purchase decisions in your favor.

Ask yourself whether the tradeshow is an important part of your software marketing plan. Maybe it is better to pass on the booth, and focus instead on networking and customer meetings during the show? If you don’t have a strategy, you will never know which is the better choice for your business…

Make your marketing work for you, by regularly updating your business plan and marketing strategy, and using that to prioritize your marketing activities. You can get a head start by using our templates for business and marketing planning for both traditional software companies and SaaS providers.

Interview with David Taber, Author of Salesforce.com Secrets of Success

This interview with David Taber, Author of “Salesforce.com Secrets of Success” on the Marketo blog is a worthwhile read for any software marketer, especially those in the CRM space or those who wish to more effectively utilize their own CRM systems.

Key takeaways? They may not be new, but they’re important enough to deserve repeating:

  • Focus on lead quality, not lead quantity
  • Have a clear process to drive the sales cycle, and make sure everyone from marketing to sales understands their role in the process
  • Figure out and track meaningful, quantifiable measures of marketing success

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