Marketing new software isn't easy. In one fell swoop, you're trying to attract potential customers to your business, fend off competitors, grow your marketshare and displace existing solutions.
Under these high-pressure conditions, a single marketing mistake can be catastrophic, and open up enough of a gap for a competitor to swoop in, and reap the rewards of your hard work.
Today, I'm looking at 5 of the most common mistakes businesses make when marketing new software - and show you how to avoid them, growing your software's marketshare.
1) Marketing to People That Shouldn’t Use Your Software
It’s important to attract people to your software – but it’s more important to attract the right people.
A broad-brush approach to marketing will attract both relevant and irrelevant people to your business. Though they’ve responded to your marketing strategy, and may even engage with your business, these irrelevant people won’t engage with the only part of the process that really matters – sales.
They’re unlikely to ever reach a point of sales qualification. Those that do will be hard to sell to, and difficult to deal with post-sale.
Long-term, attracting the wrong types of people to your business can distort future decisions about product development, plague your company with customer support issues, and even damage your reputation.
To attract the right people, you need to identify your software’s buyer personas, and design each and every one of your marketing strategies to attract these types of people to your business.
2) Not Recognising the Changing Software Buying Process
Imagine you’re looking for a simple and intuitive cloud-based accounting platform. To get an idea of the type of functionality available, the different price points and potential vendors, you need to kick-off the buying process with a bit of research.
So where would you conduct that research?
Would you trust the advice of paid advertisements? Would you heed the words of direct mail, or a cold email? Or would you start with a Google search, moving on to industry blogs, even asking the recommendation of your peers?
With a wealth of knowledge, advice and opinions at our fingertips, the software buying process has fundamentally changed. An estimated 67% of the B2B buying process takes place online, and over half of B2B buyers start the buying process with informal research, using search engines, vendor blogs and social media to inform their decisions.
Your software marketing strategy needs to recognise this shift. Instead of relying on outdated, invasive and ineffective strategies, you need to develop a marketing strategy that can attract, educate and nurture potential customers.
3) Failing to Acknowledge Your Competitors
Product and service comparisons are a crucial part of the software buying process, with consumers researching potential vendors, and directly comparing their features, functionality and cost.
We can turn a blind eye to this process, and hope that consumers will see the merits of our own software – or we can adopt a proactive stance, and make it quick and easy for potential customers to make these comparisons.
After all, any successful product, yours included, will have a unique value proposition – characteristics and features that set the product apart from its competitors. These characteristics are especially pronounced in the ultra-disruptive SaaS sector, where innovative new software services are developed as a direct response to the established tools and methodologies currently in use.
By highlighting your unique value proposition, and drawing direct comparisons to your competitors, you make it easy for potential customers to weigh-up different vendors, and focus attention on your unique position as a one-of-a-kind software solution.
Our own HubSpot have adopted this approach, creating entire pages dedicated to direct competitor comparisons.
‘But wait!’ I hear you cry, ‘Our new software doesn’t have any direct competitors!’ In this instance, you need to highlight exactly why you don’t have any competitors – and point out the revolutionary differences between your solution, and the established solution.
4) Under-Investing During Initial Traction
Many of the most successful software solutions of recent years follow the SaaS (software-as-a-service) model.
There are typically four stages to successfully growing SaaS solutions - Pre-Traction, Initial Traction, Initial Scale and Scale - and it’s essential that your marketing strategy reflects the different needs of each of these stages.
Perhaps the biggest marketing mistake SaaS solutions make is under-investing in the initial traction phase. During this stage, your business can expect to be turning over £1-£5 million, with revenue growing 100%+ year-on-year – but instead of slowing down your marketing investment, initial traction is the time to accelerate your marketing efforts.
Many software solutions reach initial traction, and begin to sit on their laurels. Marketing investment relaxes, and growth begins to stagnate - creating the perfect opportunity for a competitor to displace your market share.
Successful software solutions tend to be those that invest heavily into marketing during initial traction, raising further finance to fuel aggressive growth – cementing their market share by securing as many customers are possible.
5) Waiting Too Long to Partner with a Specialist
At the start of the long road towards market domination, you may be tempted to manage your marketing efforts in-house (usually in an effort to control costs).
Crucially though, establishing explosive growth and rapid marketshare is easier when you have access to established, proven processes. Building an in-house team from day one requires long-term hiring decisions, a broad range of specialised skill-sets, and a whole ton of trial-and-error. In contrast, partnering with a software marketing specialist means:
- Expert guidance and proven processes.
- An easily scalable framework.
- A track record of growing other software solutions.
- Tightly controlled costs (paying for deliverables – not employees).
- No overhead from managing employees and freelancers.
- A smaller commitment.
Longer term, building an in-house team may be the best option – but at the start of your journey, access to expert guidance and proven processes can often make the difference between success and failure.