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Software Selling Ideas from Our Friends at ESC

October 14th, 2009
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Apple with the booksThe Educational Software Cooperative (ESC) has started the 9th month of its new ESC Software Marketing Book Club. Each month, ESC members discuss a marketing book in detail. The central theme of each discussion is: How can the ideas in this book help software developers make their businesses more successful?

The October 2009 book selection is “How to Become a Marketing Superstar – Unexpected Rules that Ring the Cash Register” by Jeffrey J. Fox. It’s about using common sense and sound business practices to find and keep customers. It’s about marketing. Most of the concepts in the book apply directly to mISVs who are trying to increase their software sales.

Last month’s Book Club selection was “Then We Set His Hair on Fire – Insights and Accidents from a Hall-of-Fame Career in Advertising” by Phil Dusenberry. The title refers to the creation of the Pepsi ad in which Michael Jackson had an unfortunate accident. But the book is about insights, ideas, creativity, advertising, and business.

Phil Dusenberry is the former Chairman of BBDO North America, an advertising giant that managed accounts for General Electric, FedEx, Frito-Lay, Visa, Mars, HBO, Pizza Hut, Polaroid, and Apple Computers.

One of my favorite stories from the book is about soup. The lessons apply to the software industry, too.

Dusenberry’s firm landed the Campbell’s Soup account in the 1980s. Soup sales were flat. BBDO did some serious research, and learned something unusual – lots of consumers had kitchen cabinets full of Campbell’s Soup.

Campbell’s Soup had been advertised for decades as a safety measure. It’s virtually non perishable, and you need to keep it in the house for emergencies. There was a huge disconnect between the purchase rate and the consumption rate for Campbell’s Soup.

What about shareware?

Most software companies ask their prospects, over and over, to download their software. Lots of people listen to this message and act on it. About one hundred times as many people download software as buy it, so the “download” message is being read, understood and acted upon. Just as the buyers of Campbell’s Soup didn’t receive the “eat the soup” message, many shareware downloaders aren’t receiving the “buy it now” message. Read more…

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