Posts Tagged 'marketing'

5 Top Challenges When Marketing B2B Software

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:

  1. 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…
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Remembering these 5 key differences will make it easier to properly market your business software. For additional help, check out the software marketing toolkit here.

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Stop Promoting Your App!

stopsignWhat 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?

No!

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.

What’s the Difference between Your Company Vision and Mission?

So what is the difference between your company’s vision statement and your company’s mission, anyway?

Mission-Vision

I get asked that question a lot, since being clear about your vision and mission is critical to defining effective marketing strategies.

Basically, your company’s vision is what you want your company to be known for, or to become. It’s long-term, and more of an image of how you want your company to be perceived, rather than a specific goal.

Your mission, on the other hand, is more immediate: why are you in business and what is your company doing right now.

Your vision should direct your long-term goals, and your mission should direct your short-term objectives. And hopefully the two point your business in the same general direction!

Easy Ideas for Marketing Your Service Business

marketing-strategies-globe2 A lot of small services businesses struggle with marketing and acquiring new customers.  If that sounds like you, then below are a few tips to try out:

– Find local industry events or meetups that you can participate in and network with other professionals in your area of expertise. You may be able to pick up projects and establish a local reputation that way.

– Sign up for speaking opportunities at relevant local  events, meetups, and conferences. Your presentation shouldn’t be a sales pitch, but an “expert” presentation that establishes you as the go-to person in your area of focus and then include a brief sales followup to those that are interested in learning more.

– how does your website rank in organic Google search results? Write content for your website that is geared to pulling in traffic from people who are looking for folks like you – identify the long-tail keywords, and write a page for your site for each such keyword (without keyword stuffing or other black-hat stuff).

– Use LinkedIn: participate in relevant LinkedIn groups, connect to the people you already know in your field & that will give you access to other prospects also. Post updates about your company (customer case study or testimonial, info about your services, etc), keeping it “real” not spammy.

– Do you do any email marketing? You should be collecting emails on your website (offer a white paper or other information in return for their email address & use a double-opt-in form). Then have a regular customer newsletter.

– Get written up in some articles in your industry: write a press release on a newsworthy event about your company (eg, a new offering, etc), submit it through a press release site like PRWeb, and then reach out individually to journalists and bloggers in your industry – you can usually find contact information online. Just look for recent articles related to your space then reach out to those same folks. Focus on the respected publications, blogs and sites in your industry.

These are just a few ideas that can be useful for small service businesses.  If you’re looking for some more specific ideas for your business, then check out our marketing coaching services at http://www.kazooassociates.com/coaching.php

Happy Marketing!

New Software Marketing Membership Program

New Software Marketing Membership Program

Get customized software marketing help with our new membership program:  sign up for as little or as much help as you need.  Check it out at the link above.

 

eBook: Seven Step Marketing Strategy Process

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This new Marketing Strategy Book, “The 7-Step Easy Marketing Strategy Process – How to Maximize Business Results from your Marketing Efforts”, is worth checking out.

The program is easy to follow, and will help you prioritze your marketing activities so you are selecting those activities that will truly increase software sales and drive new business.

You can sign up for the 7-step marketing strategy program here: http://www.easy-marketing-strategies.com/marketing-strategy-book.html   The program includes a 51-page eBook, marketing plan template, marketing strategy worksheet, 7-step program checklist, helpful tips for marketing activities, and more.

Some Recent Software Marketing Articles

Here’s a quick summary of a few recent articles and blog posts worth reading, covering topics from influencing the B2B buy cycle, SaaS sales compensation, and what works in online marketing:

Selling B2B software? Even if you sell to the enterprise, the fact is that B2B purchasers gather a lot of their initial research on potential solutions online. That’s why having an internet marketing strategy (inbound marketing) is so key. Take a look at this recent article on ChiefMarketer.com about “Adjusting to the Web-Influenced Buy Cycle.”

If you’re moving to an enterprise SaaS model, then how to update your sales compensation plan might be on your mind. In that case, this recent blog post by Joel York at Chaotic Flow on “SaaS Sales Compensation Made Easy” may come in handy. Just remember that for SaaS you really need to focus on keeping customer acquisition costs (including costly sales comp) as low as possible – only use direct sales force when you really need it.

You can check out this recent survey by Go-to-Market Strategies on what worked & what didn’t in online marketing in 2009, in their report “Online Marketing Trends: What Worked in 2009 and What to Expect in 2010”. They found the best bets were email marketing and optimized websites, followed by social media tools.

Best Marketing Software Strategy for Software Firms

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:

  1. Focus on Inbound Marketing Online
  2. Let Prospects Experience Your Software
  3. Cultivate Existing Customers
  4. Establish a Partner Ecosystem
  5. Maintain a Customer Conversation
  6. Develop a Channel Program
  7. Offer Complementary Services or Products
  8. Segment Your Market
  9. Differentiate with Niche Marketing
  10. Leverage Customer Case Studies

For more, read our latest article on Software Marketing Advisor: “Marketing Software Strategy for Software Product Companies”

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.

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.


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