Posts Tagged 'technology marketing'

What is the Best Software Business Plan and Marketing Strategy for You?

person writing on white book

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

If you manage a software or online business, there are many different options for monetization, including:

  • traditional software license,
  • subscription fees,
  • advertising,
  • bundling,
  • licensing by component,
  • software consulting or
  • software reselling.

This article will help you plan the best business model and monetization strategy.  Keep reading to learn more about how to optimize your software business plan.

 

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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.

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.

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.

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.

What’s More Important: Marketing Process or Marketing Plan?

7-Step Marketing Strategy Process

7-Step Marketing Strategy Process

Too many leaders of small technology businesses think of marketing as either an afterthought (“Got the product ready… now I have to go market it!”) or a forethought (“Got to put together my marketing plan up front… then I’ll have my plan all ready to go when I launch!”).

The fact is neither approach is optimal. I really think marketing must be an integral part of the product or service development process in order to be as impactful as possible.

There’s just too much focus on putting together a marketing plan (whether before or after product development) as a “thing” that must be created. When in fact what’s needed is a marketing strategy process that is integrated with the product or service development process.

For example, here’s a good, simple summary of the marketing strategy process that could be adopted for any technology venture.

Some things to think about:

  • how does this tie in with your product definition and product development process?
  • where is the tie-in with sales?
  • how can the marketing function be as integrated as possible with the rest of the business?

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

What are the Best Digital Marketing Activities for Software Companies?

marketing-onlineThe Question of the Week over at Software-Marketing-Advisor.com is about identifying the best digital marketing activities that could be adopted for software enterprises.

It’s a good question, even though a very general one, because there are many web software marketing options available for software companies, and most are very affordable choices especially for smaller software firms and those that sell primarily online.

I also find that many software companies just don’t make the most of their web software marketing efforts. The most important thing to remember is that having a website is no guarantee that your target customers will find you… it is too easy to get lost as just one of the hundreds of millions of sites out there. Your website needs a marketing plan, just as any brick-and-mortar business does too.

First, think about your target customer. Where do they go online to find information about the problem your software product or service is addressing? That is where your digital marketing efforts should focus:

  • the search engines (Google is by far the most important),
  • relevant online forums and blogs,
  • relevant directories,
  • industry websites, etc.

So, getting your website visible in those places is your goal. Make a list of the most important sites where you would like your website to be highlighted.

In general, these are my main recommended areas to focus on for internet marketing of software products and solutions:

  1. SEO – make sure you’re following proper use of keywords, meta tags, and building inbound links to your website.
  2. Blog – you should have a blog on your website that is updated regularly, and participate in other blog discussions and comments.
  3. Participate in forums & discussion groups, including links to your website where appropriate (don’t spam!)
  4. Write articles and publish white papers online
  5. Issue online press releases
  6. Advertising: PPC or online classified advertising relevant to your niche.
  7. Webinars and virtual trade shows
  8. Get listed in directories – both general ones, and online software directories relevant to your niche
  9. Newsletter & email marketing (always opt-in)

You can find more detail in this article on building your web software marketing plan.


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