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.
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.
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.
Some great examples of software startups delivering business value from machine learning, big data & internet of things:
Published February 27, 2013
marketing strategy , saas , software , software marketing , software sales , Uncategorized
Tags: marketing, saas marketing, software, software business, software marketing
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.
Today’s VentureBeat guest post by Vishal Sankhla covers the topic of how to keep customer churn low in the SaaS business model. I definitely recommend checking out the article “The SaaS Churn Challenge: How to Hold Onto Your Customers”.
The crux of the issue is that in the SaaS business model, you invest up-front to acquire each customer, but you only get positive ROI from that customer if the customer lifetime value is high enough. In other words, you are counting on customers staying customers for longer than a few subscription periods. If your churn is too high, then you never make enough off each customer to cover the acquisition costs. That is a losing proposition for any SaaS business! The key is finding ways to maintain customer support and interaction while keeping those costs down.
Published September 30, 2010
saas , software
Tags: saas, saas model, software
Check out this new case study on Quest Software’s transition from being a licensed software company to a SaaS firm. You have to have Gartner registration to access it, but if you do you can find the case study at www.gartner.com.
Quest moved to a SaaS-based log management offering. Their SaaS case study shows how significant the impact of moving to SaaS can be across the entire software business.
If you can’t access the Gartner case study, Microsoft also published their own case study about Quest Software’s move to SaaS earlier this year.
They’re both worth a read, if you’re a software company considering the move to a Cloud solution. For additional reading, check out this article about the important considerations when moving to a SaaS business model.
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:
- Focus on Inbound Marketing Online
- Let Prospects Experience Your Software
- Cultivate Existing Customers
- Establish a Partner Ecosystem
- Maintain a Customer Conversation
- Develop a Channel Program
- Offer Complementary Services or Products
- Segment Your Market
- Differentiate with Niche Marketing
- Leverage Customer Case Studies
For more, read our latest article on Software Marketing Advisor: “Marketing Software Strategy for Software Product Companies”
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.
It’s now 2010… 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, 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.
Take advantage of our SaaS business plan template, or the Software Company business plan template, and get started optimizing your business today!
I just read the case study on ISV eMASON on SoftwareCEO this week. It’s an interesting example of a software company that managed to triple their business in 2009, despite the slow economy and turmoil in their target market of financial services.
How did they do it?
Basically, with a singular focus on quality and solving the customer pain point to the best ability, flexibility and easy customization, being really clear on their unique value, and making it as comprehensive as possible within the bounds of the single point of pain the application is solving.
I think we could all learn from these tips… bottom line:
- understand your customer and feel their pain
- know your unique value – what really distinguishes your solution from the competition
- be fanatically customer-focused