Posts Tagged ‘software marketing’

ISVCon, the Software Industry Conference, is now opening sponsor registration for the 2013 conference.

May 14th, 2013
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ISVCon2013 Logo (redesigned by Jerry Stern)


ISVCon, the Software Industry Conference,  is now opening sponsor registration for the 2013 conference.

Quick Links

About the ConferenceSponsorship OptionsBecome a Sponsor/Exhibitor



ISVCon 2013 will once again be held at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno, Nevada.  The Atlantis, a 4-Star hotel, was recently awarded the prestigious 4-Diamond rating.  It has a beautiful, modern conference area, with a large, comfortable, and surprisingly quiet foyer overlooking the casino.  The property includes 9 restaurants and 10 lounges, and a cabaret with live entertainment.  It is also just a 10-minute ride from the Reno airport via the Atlantis’ free airport shuttle.

Reno is located in Northern Nevada, a wonderful area with lots to do both inside and outside of the casinos.  Reno is just 15 miles from the California border, and is a popular weekend vacation destination for Northern California residents.


New Dates, Days, and Options

ISVCon 2013 will be held September 27-29.  The conference will run for 2-1/2 days, Friday through mid-day Sunday.  We’re hoping to attract lots of new faces, given that Reno is within driving distance for San Francisco/Silicon Valley, and we are also planning to do considerable marketing.


Sponsorship Levels

Our existing Sponsorship levels, prices, and benefits received an update this year.  Our Silver Sponsorship is priced at $1299 and includes 2 free conference registrations;  our Gold Sponsorship is priced at $2599 and includes 4 free conference registrations and a free Sponsor Table; while our Platinum Sponsorship is priced at $4999 and includes 8 free conference registrations, and 2 free Sponsor Tables.  All sponsorships include many other benefits, please see our Sponsorship Options page for more information.

Also, we’ve added a new Sponsorship option this year!  Our new “MISV” sponsorship level was added by request, for those industry participants who don’t necessarily want to exhibit, but simply want to attend and show their support for the event.  This new sponsorship level is priced at just $599, and like our other sponsorship levels, it includes a variety of perks and benefits.  See our Sponsorship Options page for more information about this new sponsorship level.


Sponsor Tables Instead of Break Room Booths or Hospitality Suites

You may notice that instead of having “Break Room Booths” or “Hospitality Suites” we now offer the availability of Sponsor Tables.  These Sponsor Tables will be set up in the main foyer/break room area of the conference, which is located directly in the path of the session and lunch rooms… meaning that each and every conference attendee must pass through this area in order to get to any of the presentations, breakfasts, or lunches!  The break room is also where all the snacks and refreshments will be located, so the attendees will congregate there between events and sessions.  The Sponsor Table concept was added by request from previous sponsors, and will include tables and chairs rather than pre-defined “exhibit booth” style areas.  This area will be open for attendees during the entire conference schedule, and will also be part of the Welcome Reception and other special events during the conference.  Sponsor Table spaces are limited, and will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.


Your Sponsorship

Your sponsorship of ISVCon will help support this long-standing industry conference, and give you an opportunity to meet with both experienced ISVs and start-ups in a new, exciting, and professional setting.  The sooner you sign up as a sponsor, the sooner your logo/ad box will be displayed on the ISVCon website for visitors to see.  Early sponsorship also helps support the conference financially, and is appreciated.  And, early sponsorship allows you to receive primary placement for your Sponsor Table areas, which have limited availability and will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.


Please consider supporting ISVCon with your sponsorship.  To become an ISVCon sponsor, just follow the instructions at our Become a Sponsor page.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  I look forward to working with you.


Sincerely yours,

Rich Holler
Sponsor Manager, ISVCon


P.S.  Attendee registration is ongoing, so signing up for sponsorship right away will insure that your company logo/ad will be displayed on the ISVCon website as more attendees come to register.

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ISVCon 2013: Call for Speakers

February 20th, 2013
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ISVCon2013 CallForSpeakers

ISVCon is a non-profit conference for ISVs (Independent Software Vendors). It attracts software developers, publishers, and other professionals in the software industry, all sharing a common interest in software marketing, sales, development, distribution, and other related issues. ISVCon provides an environment of networking, education, and collaboration.

ISVCon 2013 will take place September 27-29 in Reno, Nevada at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa.
Please consider supporting the conference not only by attending and/or sponsoring, but also by sharing your knowledge and expertise with others. We invite you to submit your proposal to speak at the conference.

New this year – We will be offering free conference registration for speakers, which includes the conference-sponsored lunches! (Sorry, we are not able to provide any compensation for travel or accommodations.)


Speakers are needed on all subjects related to being an ISV. We are especially interested in topics with recent buzz, like mobile computing, cloud computing, software as a service, social networks, etc. Business and marketing related subjects are always popular too. In fact, any subject of interest to ISVs will be considered.

The ISVCon sessions will run in a single track, and will incorporate topics of interest for both start-ups and experienced ISVs.


Most sessions are an hour long, and individual presentations can run anywhere from 15 to 50 minutes, depending on whether you are going “solo” or will be on a panel with other speakers (remember that we leave time at the end of each session for audience questions). If you and a friend or two have an idea for a shared session, each speaker should submit a proposal for their talk, and note their preferred session partners.


Your speaking proposal should include the following details:

1. Speaker name
2. Company/Affiliation
3. Contact information
4. Subject of proposed presentation (and/or possible title)
5. Summary of proposed presentation
(please include enough detail to differentiate your presentation from any other proposed presentations on a similar subject)

As with the 2012 event, we will be video taping the sessions, and posting them on our website for viewing by attendees, newsletter subscribers, and ASP members.

Please email your ISVCon speaking proposal to Rich Holler,


The deadline for submitting your proposal is Tuesday, March 12th.
If your proposal is accepted, you will be notified via email by Friday, March 29th.


If you represent a company that sells products or services to ISVs, you are welcome to submit a proposal to speak in your area of expertise. However, we require that the majority of a presentation be of general interest, with any company- or product-specific information limited to only the last few minutes of the presentation.


For more information about the conference, please visit
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the ISVCon Speakers Manager:

Rich Holler
Email: rich @

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Software Marketing and Passwords

August 6th, 2012
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choose powerful passwordsIf your software application lets users craft passwords to protect their data, then you have a chance to offer additional value to your prospects and customers. Help your users choose the best passwords, and use that feature to sell more of your software.

According to the “Worst Passw0rds” write-up in the April 2012 issue of AARP Bulletin, online users have an awful track record for picking effective passwords to protect their privacy and security. The most popular password, according to the article, is “password”. Changing the lower-case letter “o” to a zero to form passw0rd is on the popularity list at number 16. The top 25 list also includes awful selections like 123456, 1234567, 12345678, 123123, “qwerty” and “letmein.”

Most computer users worry about their privacy and security. Show your users that you care about them. Don’t let them create low-quality passwords.

“It’s important for developers’ users to protect their data with a long, complex password,” Andrei Belogortseff tells us. “Be sure that they use a mix of upper-case letters, lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols.”

Andrei is the CEO of Utah-based WinAbility Software, a developer of security and password applications. One of WinAbility’s most popular programs is USBCrypt, a program that makes it easy to encrypt and password-protect your drives. USBCrypt has a built-in password recovery feature that lets you recreate lost or forgotten passwords.

On a typical PC, it can take a half hour to recover a three-digit password that contains only lower-case letters. A five-digit password made up of a mix of upper- and lower-case letters, on the other hand, can take two weeks to recover. A 7-digit password that weaves upper- and lower-case letters with numbers and symbols can take an incredibly long time to recover.

If the software that you sell asks users to choose a password, then help them select their password wisely. Start by building a list of ineffective passwords into your software, and don’t let your users select these lightweight choices. Have your software examine the passwords that they’ve created, and encourage them to use longer passwords, with a richer mix of characters.

“Remind your users of the flip-side of using a complex password,” Andrei tells us. “If you forget your password, it will be extremely difficult to recover it.”

Make your helpful password protection information part of your software marketing presentation. By creating keyword-rich web pages that feature your thoughts about privacy, security, encryption, and passwords, you may even get more Google traffic from prospects who include these words when they search for software like yours. Your application’s help file could provide your customers and prospects with an explanation of why passwords are crucial.

Your users will appreciate the guidance, and they’ll be much more inclined to purchase your software. Helping customers choose powerful passwords can be good software marketing.

– by Al Harberg, the Software Marketing Blog guy

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Software Marketing and Adversity

June 10th, 2012
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adversity and software marketingBill Russell believes that adversity does not necessarily bring out the best in people. This is true in the software development industry, and in all parts of our lives. Some microISVs respond well to adversity, and some react poorly.

Russell led the Boston Celtics to 11 championships in 13 years. And he was the only basketball player to win an NCAA Championship, an Olympic Gold Medal, and an NBA Championship in a single year. In his book “Russell Rules,” he offers a wealth of advice that can help business people of all types, including those of us who spend our days immersed in software marketing..

Russell disagrees with the popular wisdom that we should regard adversity as an opportunity. He believes that this leads to creating a victim mentality – a mindset in which people who have been mistreated believe that they are powerless. He tells us to take control of every situation, regardless of how it was caused. Russell sees this as a positive action on our part, and not simply a reaction to the things that are going on around us.

We need to be resilient, Russell says, and respond to the problems that affect our business. Problems happen. What’s important is how we respond to them.

Our businesses will have highs and lows. We need to have resilience, and not become distracted by the ups and downs that will always be part of business – and of life. That’s good advice for people who deal every day with the stresses of software marketing.

– by Al Harberg, the Software Marketing Glossary guy

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Remarkable Software

May 29th, 2012
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remarkable software marketingAccording to Seth Godin, author of Purple Cow, the opposite of “remarkable” is “very good”.

“Very good is an everyday occurrence,” Godin tells us, “and hardly worth mentioning.” Godin urges us to create a product or service that Saturday Night Live could spoof. If Godin were writing software marketing advice, I believe he’d be encouraging us to create applications that computer trade and consumer magazines could spoof.

Godin tells us that good marketing is when you change the product, not the ads. In addition to changing the product, find a slogan or positioning statement that is remarkable. Boast about something that’s true. You’ll sell more software.

– by Al Harberg, the Software Marketing Glossary guy

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Using News Stories to Market Your Software

January 14th, 2012
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newsworthy press releases are good software marketingYou can get free publicity for your software if you link it to a popular news story. Tech editors and bloggers are curious about press releases that describe software with interesting features and benefits. But it’s better if you can attract a wider audience of writers and columnists. Editors representing every beat, from business to lifestyle, are looking for an interesting angle for covering a newsworthy story.

Many of you know Alex Krivov as the guy who runs jProductivity, the company that offers Protection Licensing Toolkit to keep pirates from stealing your software. Alex’s company also offers InstaTodo, a to-do list manager for iPhone and iPad that lets you create custom, reusable to-do list templates.

How do you get editors interested in telling their readers about yet another to-do app? The proven approach is to talk about its unique usage of reusable templates. Another approach is to send a press release that talks about InstaTodo’s built-in capabilities to manage an imminent emergency such as Hurricane Irene.

Hurricane Irene confronted millions of Americans with the urgent need to somehow prepare their families as this huge storm threatened to devastate the eastern part of the United States. InstaTodo users, however, were prepared with expert guidance. And the InstaTodo press release offered concrete ideas that would help people prepare for the storm.

jProductivity partnered with the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide InstaTodo users with Emergency To-Do lists, including FEMA’s Emergency Supply Kit, First Aid Kit, Unique Family Needs, Emergency Food Supply, and Useful Government and Non-Profit Organization Links.

InstaTodo users didn’t rush to grocery stores, trying to guess how many batteries to buy, or how much food and bottled water to purchase. With just a tap or two in InstaTodo, they had all of the information that they needed.

With thousands of editors and columnists looking for a fresh approach to reporting on the fast-approaching Hurricane Irene, Alex sent them the news story that they needed. Here’s PC World Magazine’s today@PCWorld blog posting covering the press release.

Many software developers can use today’s hottest news stories to help market their products or services. Start by thinking about how your software can benefit people in your target audience. For each group of prospects that you target, create a benefits profile that describes how their day-to-day activities would be enhanced by your software.

Next, think through how your software can be tied to current news items. How can your software users benefit from your application during a time of economic turbulence? How can your software help people land their next job? Will your program make people’s leisure time more relaxing, exciting, or fulfilling? Can you tie your application to a particular holiday?

Find a way to link your software to today’s hottest news stories, and your income will go up. It’s good software marketing.

– by Al Harberg, the Software Marketing Glossary guy

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microISVs versus Software Giants

January 8th, 2012
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microISV competition using trial softwareSince the beginning of shareware, small software development companies have been competing with software giants. On paper, it’s a tough software marketing challenge. It’s very difficult for the microISVs to win these competitions. Yet year after year, we find one-person companies taking significant market share away from the well-financed software publishers.

How can a small company – say, a small software developer – compete with a huge company? microISVs can learn a lot from David Ogilvy. Time Magazine called David Ogilvy the most sought-after wizard in the advertising business. Chapter 14 of Ogilvy’s classic book “Ogilvy on Advertising” is called “Competing with Procter & Gamble – Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?” And the lessons from this 1983 book are as valid today as they were when Ogilvy penned it.

Ogilvy had competed against Procter & Gamble for decades, and he respected P&G’s advertising prowess. Yet in head-to-head competition, Ogilvy’s advertising firm helped his customers take significant market share away from P&G.

Procter & Gamble spent $700,000,000(US) a year on advertising back in the early 1980s. Their sales were $12 billion a year. P&G’s success was based on their intelligent application of sound marketing principles. Here are some of the things that P&G did to become successful. Today’s software developers can learn a lot about software marketing from P&G’s successful practices.

(1) Product samples

Ogilvy tells us that P&G distributed home-delivered samples on a massive scale. The company was convinced that if they let consumers try their products, they would want to buy them. This was a very expensive way to market consumer goods. They had to manufacture samples, postal-mail them to consumers, and be sure that grocery and department store shelves were stocked with P&G’s products when it was time for end-users to buy more.

market search for microISV software develoopersSoftware developers have a much easier time distributing trial versions on the Internet. Once a software application has been developed, the distribution cost is nominal. No doubt, the cost of advertising and promoting your software, and letting potential buyers know where to find it, can be significant. But these expenses pale when compared with the costs of manufacturing and distributing samples of toothpaste or laundry detergent.

For prospects who land on your website, you have to decide if you want to sell them your software, or entice them to download the trial version. For most developers, selling software should be the primary goal, and coaxing prospects to download the trial version should be a distant second choice.

(2) Categories and competition

P&G never entered small categories unless they expected them to grow, Ogilvy explains. The consumer products giant simply wouldn’t spend time in niche markets. While this may be a good practice for well-financed publicly-traded software companies, many microISVs find it quite lucrative to find and dominate niche markets.

“They (Procter & Gamble) often enter more than one brand in a category,” Ogilvy wrote, “and allow each brand to compete with its sibling – with no holds barred.” There are some software developers who take the same approach. In addition to selling their software on the Internet, they’ll contract with a publisher to distribute their boxed software in stores, often under a different brand name.

(3) Market research

Procter & Gamble did a lot of market research. And Ogilvy believed that they created products that were better – and were perceived to be better – than competitive products. In addition to surveying potential buyers before creating a new product, P&G also did extensive test marketing. They would rather be right than first. This philosophy seems to contradict today’s wisdom that being first to market a new category of product is the most important factor in a company’s potential success.

It would seem that Apple has followed P&G’s example. Many years after the first computer tablets were introduced, Apple launched the iPad. By waiting, and by designing a tablet that people would genuinely want to use, Apple revived a tired old concept and turned it into a marketplace success.

(4) Advertising

advertising and microISV competitionOgilvy pointed out that P&G’s ads stressed one key benefit. If they wanted to stress two important benefits, they would run two separate ads (versus stressing two benefits in a single ad). Most microISVs’ advertising is found on their websites. And most software developers’ websites present a library of information about their applications’ benefits and features. Perhaps developers would have more success if they followed P&G’s lead, and spent most of their time emphasizing a single benefit.

P&G’s commercials spoke directly to consumers. Many microISVs have been taking a similar approach by writing their websites’ sales messages in the second person. This means speaking directly to prospects, with lots of “you” and “your” and “you’re” words. In contrast to this conversational approach, other developers talk in the third person about their products, and occasionally mention “the user” as some abstract person who buys their software. Clearly, P&G’s speaking directly to potential customers is a more effective way to do software marketing.

P&G used unknown actors in their commercials. Compare that with today’s practice of getting celebrity endorsements from Hollywood stars, famous musicians, and sports heroes.

While it seems that P&G’s products were on television day and night, Ogilvy pointed out that less than one third of P&G’s advertising budget was allocated to prime-time advertising. Perhaps there’s a lesson there for software developers: If you’re buying search engine words, you don’t have to limit yourself to Google. If you’re buying text or banner ads on download sites, you don’t have to only buy from the highest-traffic sites.

(5) Product names

Procter & Gamble’s product names, Ogilvy pointed out, were short and simple. Today’s list includes Cascade, Cheer, Comet, Crest, Febreze, Gillette, Olay, Clairol, Ivory, Tide, and Pringles.

When they advertised their products, P&G never named their competitors. Rather, they would use a phrase such as “the other leading detergent.” Some software developers name their competitors in their websites’ sales presentations. For example, some microISVs create feature-comparison tables that show their applications’ features and benefits side-by-side with competitive products. And some developers offer competitive upgrades for customers who abandon an alternative product in favor of their own.

microISVs sell software with benefitsShould microISVs include the names of their competitors in the sales presentations on their websites? It depends. In some jurisdictions, it may not be legal to mention competitive companies or products. Where it’s legal, developers might try it both ways, and compare sales results.

(6) Talking about benefits

Ogilvy mentioned an interesting attribute of P&G’s advertisements that might have implications for microISVs: P&G showed consumers how the product will benefit them, without explaining why it might benefit them. Their ads promised softer skin, or a happier social life, and other benefits, tangible and intangible. And the reader or viewer of the ads was left to figure out how the products’ features would lead to these benefits.

Often, product users were portrayed as benefiting emotionally from using P&G’s product. And seldom did a P&G ad connect all the dots. Prospects were on their own to figure out how P&G’s consumer products would deliver all of their benefits.

Most marketers believe that advertising is more successful if you can offer – and prove – a specific, quantifiable benefit. Again, choose the approach that makes the most sense to you, and measure the results. Change your sales message, and measure again.

The bottom line

How do you beat a well-funded, well-known company like P&G? Or to bring the question closer to home, how can a microISV beat a well-funded, well-known software publisher? Take advantage of your strengths. You can move much more quickly than a large company. Once a microISV identifies an opportunity, it’s easier to allocate resources to working on the new development project.

And learn from Procter & Gamble. Bring their successful design, advertising, and marketing ideas to the software development industry, and sell more software.

– by Al Harberg, the Software Marketing Glossary guy

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2011 Epsilon Award for Software Excellence

December 18th, 2011
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European Software Conference and Epsilon AwardGRAHL software design’s PDF Annotator was named the winner of the 2011 Epsilon Award at the 11th annual European Software Conference (ESWC). Each year, The Epsilon Award recognizes the best software application from the European software and microISV community. ASP is a Supporting Sponsor of the ESWC. Oliver Grahl and Erwin Denissen, the two top winners of this year’s awards, are both ASP members.

PDF Annotator is a Windows application that makes it simple to add notes to any PDF document. You can make comments and corrections, highlight portions of the text, add signatures, and even include designs and drawings. It’s easy to type comments or paste images on top of existing PDF content. Save your additions in the original file and share them with friends and colleagues, with no need for special software to view the marked-up document.

In addition, PDF Annotator lets you add blank pages to an existing PDF document, combine documents, copy pages, and resequence or delete pages. With one click you can remove or hide all of your changes, or simply restore the document to the original version.

PDF Annotator runs under Windows 7/Vista/XP/2000 and costs $69.95(US) for a single-user license.

The Epsilon Award’s second-place winner was High-Logic B.V. for its MainType program. MainType is a Windows 7/Vista/XP/2000 font manager and font viewer that makes it easy to find, preview, organize, install, and print your fonts.

The 12th annual European Software Conference will be held November 24th and 25th, 2012 in Munich, Germany. Additional information about the Epsilon Award, and about the European Software Conference, can be found on

– by Al Harberg, the Software Marketing Glossary guy

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Software Marketing – Pricing Your Software Application

November 11th, 2011

Software pricing and software sales

software marketing and pricingYou can sell more of your software if you make it simple for prospects to learn the price. If you hide the price, they won’t be reading the sales presentation on your website. Instead, they’ll be scrolling and clicking, trying to find out how much you charge for your application.

Paco Underhill, in his book “Why We Buy – The Science of Shopping,” points out that shoppers in brick-and-mortar stores dislike obscure price tags. The same distaste for hidden prices carries over to the Internet. I’d guess that Underhill would be urging software developers to make it easy for prospects to find their pricing information.

Software price and differentiation

Many developers try to use their software’s price as a way of differentiating it from their competitors’ programs. According to Jack Trout, the author of “Differentiate or Die,” price can rarely be an effective differentiating idea. In fact, Trout believes that price can be the enemy of differentiation.

As soon as you talk about price, Trout tells us, people assume that you’re not able to state why you’re different from – and superior to – your competitors. So, it’s best to avoid competing on price.

If you should decide to compete on price, then be sure to have an integrated theory on how price and value are merged together to provide something unique. Trout provides a number of examples:

  • Southwest Airlines used this strategy with their low ticket prices plus a system of hubs in smaller municipalities.
  • Wal-Mart succeeds with low prices plus store locations in smaller towns plus vendor contracts that support their lower prices.
  • Dell uses affordable prices along with direct sales to succeed.

Price alone probably is not a good basis on which to compete. But price plus something else – something that makes a low price logical – can be an effective way to differentiate a product or service.

Responding to competitors’ software prices

software marketing, pricing, differentiationIf you have a competitor who is making your life miserable by lowering the price of their software, then there are some strategies that you can use to compensate. Here are three of Trout’s suggestions, translated into the software development industry:

1. Do something unusual. Don’t just lower your price to match a competitor’s price. Instead, create a software bundle, or find a non-price way to change what you’re offering to your customer base.

2. Confuse the marketplace. That’s what MCI did when they launched their “Friends & Families” discount program. MCI made it very difficult for prospects to tell if their pricing would be higher or lower than, say, AT&T’s more traditional long-distance pricing.

3. Change the discussion. Admit that your software costs more to buy initially, but tell your customers that you give away free upgrades for the first three years. Talk about the total cost of ownership (TCO). Find some way to change the argument from initial price to overall cost for the life of the software.

Marketing with lower software prices

Trout believes that price reduction sales are a bad idea. He doesn’t believe that they bring in incremental income in the long run.

software marketing and competitive softwareSergio Zyman, author of “The End of Marketing As We Know It,” believes that discount prices are a sign of marketing laziness. Price-cutting is what marketers do when they run out of creative new marketing ideas. “When a price promotion ends,” Zyman tells us, “the consumers move on to the next guy who’s willing to pay them to buy his product.”

Trout gives us an interesting example of low prices in the sports retailing business. The four biggest sports retailers are all losing money. They’ve been competing on price. And when Wal-Mart and Kmart got to the point where they were selling 35 percent of all sports equipment in the US, the major sports retailers were in a world of trouble.

Trout is not a fan of the “free” trend that we see so much in the software development industry. He believes that it’s very difficult to distribute products or services for free, and still turn a profit at the end of the year.

Can you succeed with a high-price strategy? Many people believe that the highest quality products should cost more. And people are willing to pay for products that will impress their neighbors and coworkers. A high price, Trout believes, becomes a benefit of the underlying product because it impresses the buyers’ friends and colleagues.

software marketing, raising software prices, and lowering themLowering prices is not a particularly good long-term strategy. So says Philip Kotler, author of “Kotler On Marketing – How to Create, Win, and Dominate Markets.” At the time Kotler penned this book, he had sold more than three million marketing textbooks, and done marketing consulting work for AT&T, General Electric, Ford, IBM, and other Fortune 100 companies. The man knows a lot about marketing.

Kotler reports that the marketing professionals who attend his seminars believe that their customers are more sophisticated than before, and more price-sensitive. At the same time, these attendees believe that dropping prices doesn’t work because competitors respond in kind, and everybody loses.

Kotler believes that it’s a mistake to price your product or service based on a mark-up. Your prospects and customers don’t care how many hours it took you to write the program, or how much you paid for the programming tools that you use. Instead, software developers should base their prices by figuring out the value of the product to their customers.

Branding and pricing are tied together, Kotler suggests. Marketing is all about building a brand. If you don’t build a brand and differentiate yourself from your competitors, then you’re selling a commodity. And the only way to differentiate yourself in a commoditized market is by price.

Software pricing and marketing strategy

Determining the price of your software should be part of your marketing strategy. And don’t use a simple definition of price. You need to consider the list price, site license discounts, allowances, coupons, credit terms, affiliate fees, and commissions, as well as any bundled products or services that you may be offering.

Developers often ask if it makes sense to offer a low-priced personal license and a higher-priced business license, for identical software. Some consumers may be offended by the idea. On the other hand, consumers are used to this kind of pricing.

software marketing and pricing strategyFor example, if you go to a concert, you’d expect to pay more for seats that are closer to the stage, even though the seats cost no more to manufacture or install than those seats that are farther away from the stage. And most people would expect to pay more for weekend tickets than for weekday tickets. The concept isn’t bizarre, but it has to be sold to your software prospects.

Kotler tells us to find a way to add value to the more expensive version. You could offer priority support, or coupons, or long-term discounts to the people who buy the business license. The solution is to create a series of attractive offerings at a range of price points.

Software pricing and repeat customers

Developing long-term customers, Kotler believes, can offer a lot of advantages to people who are marketing products such as software. You can cross-sell and upsell to them. It takes less effort to complete transactions with them because they’re familiar with your software, communications, emails, and procedures. They’re more likely to recommend your programs to their friends.

But there is also a pricing consideration. Long-term customers are less price-sensitive because they’ve developed a relationship with your company. They’ll pay a little more for your software because they trust you, and because they’re comfortable buying from you.

Kotler sees pricing as a way to deal with difficult customers. Most companies lose money on some percentage of their worst clients. If you’re getting customers who require too much technical support, for example, find out why they’re buying from you, and do something to change that.

If you want to keep these customers, then educate them, so you’re not spending as much time supporting them. Or raise your prices so it’s worthwhile to deal with them.

Marketing with higher software prices

Advertising genius David Ogilvy has some thoughts on maintaining high prices in a price-sensitive world. In his book “Ogilvy on Advertising,” Ogilvy said to his prospects, “If you are going to choose your agency on the basis of price, you are looking through the wrong end of the telescope.”

software marketing and pricing software applicationsOgilvy urges his prospects to think about the increased sales that he can deliver to them, and not the amount of fees that he charges. This approach can be effective in selling software online, too.

Don’t price your product too low. Ogilvy points out that people judge the value of a product by its price. I agree. I’ve said for years that too many software developers price their applications too low, and it damages their profits.

Harry Beckwith, the author of “The Invisible Touch – The Four Keys to Modern Marketing,” agrees that low prices are not the answer to business success. Beckwith believes that higher-priced goods and services are perceived to be better than lower-priced ones. Price changes perception. Price can actually enhance the experience of using a product or service.

“Higher prices don’t just talk,” Beckwith insists. “They tempt.” My 25+ years of marketing experience in the software industry confirms this belief. In the software industry, most developers will tell you that their Pro version outsells their Standard version.

Beckwith goes on to say that price is often the excuse (but rarely the reason) that you’re losing market share to your competitors. “Look deeper,” he advises.

Most people can afford to pay more money for your software application. Don’t charge them less. Instead, do a better job of convincing prospects that your applications have more value than the software that your competitors offer.

Pricing your software application

There’s no shortage of advice on how to price your software application. But there is no simple formula for arriving at the perfect price-point for your programs. You have to consider all of the factors discussed above, take your best guess, and measure the results. Then, change the price and measure again. My best advice would be – raise your prices. They’re probably a little bit too low.

by Al Harberg, the Software Marketing Glossary guy from DP Directory, Inc.

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Sell More Software by Enhancing Your Credibility

October 5th, 2011
Comments Off on Sell More Software by Enhancing Your Credibility

Credibility is all about making prospects and customers believe your sales message. Enhance your credibility, and you’ll sell more software.

software marketing and credibilityCredibility, Confidence, and Selling Software

Jay Conrad Levinson, in his book “Guerrilla Marketing Excellence,” tells us that credibility is the sum of all of our marketing efforts. Confidence, Levinson argues, is the most important reason that people buy. If you’re credible, you’ll inspire confidence and you’ll get more sales than if you’re not credible. So, building your company’s credibility is an important component of your software marketing endeavors.

Levinson urges us to become problem solvers. If he were writing about the software development industry, he would no doubt be telling microISVs to sell more of their software by making prospects aware of a problem that they have, and describing how their application can solve the problem. It’s best to focus on a single problem, or two problems tops. You lose credibility if you try to present your software as the solution to every problem known to humankind.

software marketing credibility and guaranteesCredibility, Guarantees, and Increased Software Sales

For developers selling software on the Internet, credibility means having a professional-looking website that’s well written. It means offering a guarantee. Almost all software developers who offer no-questions-asked money-back guarantees tell us that the money that they lose from people who abuse their guarantee is a small fraction of the additional sales that they make by offering the guarantee.

Credibility and Credit Card Payments

Many of your prospects won’t type their credit card information into an order form unless they can see your company’s name, postal address, and telephone number. At a minimum, add this information to your contact page or your about-us page – or both. Personally, I’d recommend adding full contact info to every page on your website because it’s good software marketing.

software marketing credibility and competitionIf your software development company is located in a country that has problems with credit card theft and abuse, then some number of buyers are going to be reluctant to buy from you. A good way to overcome this problem is to rely upon the credibility of your credit card processing company. Select an eCommerce provider that is based in a country which has a good reputation for trustworthy banking and commerce. And be sure to say on your order page where your eCommerce partner is located.

Don’t assume that your eCommerce company has credibility with your prospects. Most software buyers haven’t heard of the eCommerce companies that are household names for those of us in the software development business. You need to build up your eCommerce company’s credibility if you want to increase your sales. On your order form, explain why you’ve chosen your particular eCommerce provider. Talk about their long-term reputation for security and reliability. Their credibility will transfer to your company, making prospects more comfortable buying from you.

software marketing credibility and competitionCredibility and Competition

Jack Trout, the author of “The New Positioning,” has an interesting idea about competition and credibility. We should welcome having competitors, Trout tells us. He argues that having two or three competitors adds credibility to your software niche. I’m guessing that not all microISVs will embrace this theory.

Credibility and Longevity

In his book “Differentiate or Die,” Jack Trout presents a theory about credibility that is much easier to embrace. Trout explains that heritage and longevity are forms of leadership. You may not be the sales leader in your software niche, but you have credibility if you’ve been a player in the industry for years and years. If you’ve been in business for a long time, Trout would urge you to talk about your history and experience on your web site. Being long of tooth adds to your credibility.

Credibility and Sponsorship of Software Industry Events

software marketing credibility and copywritingSponsorship builds credibility. So says David F. D’Alessandro, author of “Brand Warfare.” Not many microISVs have the money to sponsor major national events. But there are other relationships that software developers can form with outside organizations that could increase your credibility. There are local civic events, educational scholarship programs, and regional and national organizations that are looking for business partners. Associating your company with these organizations can make your firm more credible.

In the software development field, you can find a number of membership organizations and software conference organizers that offer visibility – and credibility – to supporters and partners. For example my company, DP Directory, Inc., has been a sponsor of the European Software Conference (ESWC) for many years.

Be sure to widen your perspective, and look for opportunities in vertical markets, too. Find ways to sponsor an organization or an event. Often, charity events have program booklets that provide publicity for their many sponsors. Create partnerships with trusted enterprises. Your software marketing efforts can begin with simple things like link swaps and blog posting swaps, and build from there.

Credibility and Copywriting

software marketing credibility and contentHank Nuwer, the author of “How to Write like an Expert about Anything,” has a lot of advice on how our writing style can make us credible to the people in our target audience. We need to learn the jargon of the field that we’re writing about.

We have to be careful how we weave technical terms into our writing. If we explain and define our terms, then our readers will appreciate the information that we present, and they’ll be able to follow our narrative. If we don’t put these technical terms in context, we’ll confuse our readers, and damage our credibility.

In the software development industry, we need to talk less like techies, and more like our target audience. If you’re marketing educational software, for example, you need to talk like a parent or teacher, and not like a computer consultant. Writers of business and financial software need to write in a way that is credible to business professionals.

Credibility and Content

In their book “Content Rules,” Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman say that creating and delivering an impressive library of content is the best way to establish our credibility and authority. The authors tell us that content builds trust. Content plus credibility turns visitors into customers.

Following their advice, it would be a great software marketing strategy to create podcasts, webcasts, screencasts, blogs, whitepapers, case studies, and articles. As we build this library of content, we build our own credibility.

Credibility isn’t some abstract concept that we need to give lip service to. Credibility is a serious asset that we can use to increase the sales of our products and services.

– Al Harberg, the Software Marketing Glossary guy from DP Directory, Inc.

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