Top 10 Marketing Mistakes to watch out forLove it or dread it. Right brain or left. Waste of money or revenue generator. M...
product is business-to-business (B-to-B) or consumer-to-business (B-to-C), there are almost always multiplecustomers in ea...
colors.” This may seem like a nice feature to offer the users but in fact, could make yourproduct look horrible if they se...
Mistake #4: SEO and social media is criticalBecause software companies understand SEO and social media, they assume it is ...
time and content knowledge that it would take to do this well given the client was a rather smallstartup. I recommended th...
Mistake #6: Word of mouth happens on its ownIf you build it, they may not come. Seriously. Even if some targets said your ...
fighting for a limited budget at your target customers doesn‟t always mean your product or thecompetition. It means provin...
reality, there is too much volatility in the real world for us to predict. Economic factors,competitive factors, social fa...
invest their time knowing your offering seems to be a good solution for something there areneeding. Slamming them with a f...
Alyssa Dver is the CEO at Mint Green Marketing (www.mintgreenmktg.com) which offersaffordable, expert marketing consulting...
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Top 10 marketing mistakes to watch out for

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Top 10 marketing mistakes to watch out for

  1. 1. Top 10 Marketing Mistakes to watch out forLove it or dread it. Right brain or left. Waste of money or revenue generator. Marketing isalways in question.Should we do it? Why isn‟t it working? How much should we spend? Can we even afford it?Why do others do it so much better?The answers are actually quite simple. Unfortunately, too many people get easily confused overthe real objective of marketing.Marketing should only be about clearly telling specifically targeted buyers what you have tooffer to them and why they should spend their money to buy it. What makes this tough is thatpeople get creative. That‟s right, creative. They try to use cool design or complex descriptionsto „wow‟ someone when all the „someone‟ wants is to understand “so what?” Don‟t get mewrong, I am as creative as they come but pretty for the sake of art isn‟t marketing.Then we compound the problem when the marketing is driven by the engineers or someonetechnical (i.e. lacks professional communication skills) or the worst scenario, when marketingis driven by the founder (i.e. “Doesn‟t everyone want one of my perfect puppies?”).Therefore, here are some of the top mistakes software companies make. I offer you thefollowing lessons based on decades accruing my own marketing scars, together with helpingseveral dozens of client companies of all sizes and shapes to succeed by doing more strategic,Mistake#1: Assuming you are your target customerLet‟s be clear. “Customer” can mean the buyer (person who signs the check for the purchase), the user(person(s) who actually use the product), and the influencers (people who have a say in whether the companybuys it or not). As such, you can never be all those roles for whatever software you sell. Whether your© 2011 Apptivo Inc. All rights reserved.
  2. 2. product is business-to-business (B-to-B) or consumer-to-business (B-to-C), there are almost always multiplecustomers in each sale and as such,smarter marketing.knowing them is paramount. „Knowing‟includes nailing down their demographics, their buying cycles, their budget requirements, theirprice sensitivity, their experience with other similar products, etc. You can only know thesethings by asking and no amount of web research or analysts‟ reports are going to help withthat. You need to do primary research – even if it is on a small scale and done informally withtarget customers.I often get asked to do this on behalf of clients who are too busy, too intimidated or too fearfulof what they may hear from prospective clients. Oftentimes using an outside person (e.g.consultant) is even better since the outsider can ask the naïve and politically incorrect questionswhile the respondent can feel a little less worried about honestly answering about the companythey do business with. That middle layer adds some perceived protection thus often exposingmore the truth than the vendor will get directly. After all, a customer is already in the boat andas such, doesn‟t want to rock it too much. So whether you use an outside interviewer or not,just talk to your customers and if you want to get really smart, talk to the people that decidednot to purchase your software – that‟s where the most insightful information lies.It‟s best to do such research early and often. Like any diagnosis, the worst case is that you findout that you are off the selling tracks but hopefully can readjust (albeit potentially costlychanges but less so than making the changes later in the cycle). The best case is that you makenew or renewed fans (everyone loves to have their opinion asked and matter). It will probablygrease the sales cycle too when that person interviewed is presented the product now ready thatthey actually asked for.Mistake #2: Asking what users want and not whyIf you‟ve been trained on the art of good product requirements gathering, you‟ve learned thatuse cases and personas are great tools to ensure that requirements are put into perspective.Atypical use case might say something like, “The user shall be able to change the background© 2011 Apptivo Inc. All rights reserved.
  3. 3. colors.” This may seem like a nice feature to offer the users but in fact, could make yourproduct look horrible if they select poor combinations. Therefore, the question is “what valuedoes it really have to the user?” If the concern is that colorblind individuals may need adifferent palette in order to best use the software, then be specific. You can either specify thatthe colors used must be visible to someone who is colorblind, or you can offer a handful of pre-designed palettes that you know will maintain the integrity of your user interface. This is asimple example but in my work, I see so many product requirements that are nicely packagedwith use cases and even specific details. However, without asking why this feature is required,you miss a whole lot of understanding as to what you really need to build and how to market it.Mistake #3: Accepting that not every requirement needs a business justificationAn axiom to Mistake #2, part of asking „why‟ helps determine the business case for eachrequirement. The revenue related to some requirements may be clear (i.e. “By expanding ourinterface to the iPhone, we will increase our target customer base to over 5 million with anexpected penetration of 10% and subsequent revenue opportunity of $400,000.”). However,more than likely, most requirements don‟t have such a clear ROI. How do you quantifyusability or better code base development? Consider the long term cost savings such as howmuch support or other company resource will be saved over time with such productenhancements. Customer retention from happier, more successful customers is alsoquantifiable. Better competitive positioning is a good thing but only if it helps to really sellmore of your software which is often hard to prove unless you have lost sales or other provablesuch experiences. There is also personnel retention. No kidding – there may be features or atleast development projects that are done for the sake of keeping critical internal team motivatedand innovative. It‟s not a great way to justify projects from an ROI perspective, butnonetheless, a way to think through whether that use of company resources has a decentjustification versus other projects.© 2011 Apptivo Inc. All rights reserved.
  4. 4. Mistake #4: SEO and social media is criticalBecause software companies understand SEO and social media, they assume it is important fortheir business as a competitive advantage. Perhaps it is, but in many cases, it is actually a wasteof time and money (Yes, I am a marketing person saying that!). If your target buyers search forinformation related to your products on the internet, then yes, you should make it easy to findyour company and content, especially if your keywords are highly competitive or mixed withother unrelated products. However, often in the b-to-b software business, I hear the need to “getinto the C-suite”. If this is a legitimate need to sell the company‟s software, then think about ifthose C-level managers are spending time surfing the internet and reading Facebook pages andblogs. Most likely not – or at least not for the purpose of you selling them software. Ratherthan spend precious resources blogging or Tweeting, consider how to reach your targetindividuals in the channels they use for information gathering. If you don‟t know this, ask them(yes, it‟s that easy). SEO and social media properly done are voracious marketing tacticsrequiring constant content feeding and monitoring. As such, if they are important for yourbusiness to reach prospective and existing customers, do it and commit fully. If not, don‟t wasteanyone‟s time.Mistake #5: Marketing has to cost a lotSpeaking about social media and SEO, many people assume those are good marketing ideas asthey are free. Email, too, for that matter. While the channel may be free to use, there is alwaysa cost. Someone‟s time to create the content is obvious – but also consider the time to monitorthe impact, plus respond to and refine these marketing tactics. So the issue becomes whetherthose same resources could be put to better use doing more effective marketing even if thatappears to cost more.Take for example, one of my clients that sells global trade management software. Theircustomers are any company that imports or exports products from one country to another andthe trade managers in those companies do use the internet to search for information about trademanagement and related topics. As such, my client wanted to optimize their site and createsome social media venues to help reach out to their targets. My concern was the amount of© 2011 Apptivo Inc. All rights reserved.
  5. 5. time and content knowledge that it would take to do this well given the client was a rather smallstartup. I recommended that since the VP of Products already did weekly summaries and linksto important industry articles for her own management team, we could repurpose that contentonto a blog and offer that as a service to the external target audience. In 10 minutes, we taught ajunior associate how to post to one of the free blog sites. We created the „sponsored‟ blogsimply by adding the company logo to one of the blog templates that complimented (but didn‟treplicate) the company‟s look and feel. Now the admin uses the same links from the weeklyinternal emails that the VP was sending out already. In a few weeks, the site became quitepopular and now provides a valuable news service to target buyers. With all the rich keywordscreated from the newsworthy articles it lists, the blog has terrific SEO and subsequentlygenerates traffic to the company‟s website. So by using a free blog infrastructure to create avery professional, valuable social media channel, we created an online magnet for prospectiveclients and even media and industry analysts who take advantage of this vendor-neutral (butclearly vendor-sponsored) clipping service. And each and every time they go there from theirRSS feed or other trigger, my client‟s logo is there associated with the latest and greatest newsabout the global trade management industry. “FREE”!Never lose potential sales using Apptivo‟s Opportunities AppWith that said, there are so many other free tools that can help with marketing significantly. Doyou use Google Alerts as your own, free clipping service that reports all the news about yourcompetition, product, industry or whatever you decide to track? What about Twitterhawk ifyour product is something talked about in the Twittersphere? Heck, we already discussed theimportance of talking to customers which is usually a “free” activity that yields the mostprecious marketing intelligence and builds sales relationships.In reality, what costs a lot is misguided marketing and spending money recklessly to promoteyour company without the clear knowledge about what your targets need and want from you andhow they want that information delivered to them.© 2011 Apptivo Inc. All rights reserved.
  6. 6. Mistake #6: Word of mouth happens on its ownIf you build it, they may not come. Seriously. Even if some targets said your idea was a goodone, are they willing to pay for it? Many entrepreneurs go to friends and family for funding aswell as confidence that the proposed software is needed. But your friends and family (or eveninvestors) are probably not your buyers. Don‟t get happy ears and think because someone isbeing nice to you means they will open their wallets when you come back with the productready for sale. Friends and family won‟t tell you your baby is ugly either so make sure youhave good representation of your real target buyers before, during and after you build thesoftware. Better yet, go to people who bought from your competition or are accomplishing thesame tasks using a totally different method. Ask them why they didn‟t choose yours. Theyhave nothing to lose and just may tell you that your breath stinks.And despite what Malcolm Caldwell‟s Tipping Point implies, if you read the case studies, youknow that word of mouth/viral marketing, isn‟t something that happens from nothing. Ithappens because there is a market that has enough information to buy and share among theircolleagues to get a trend going. For software, we use additional tricks like “powered by” and“read only” ways to get non-licensed individuals to be impressed enough upon receipt of the„runtime software‟ to want them to seek us out for the rights to be a real part of the club. It can‟thurt to do that but let‟s be real – it isn‟t going to make most of us rich. What will is buildingsoftware that really does solve a problem that a target group has and letting them knowexplicitly that we have the solution.Mistake #7: If mine is best, they will buy it despite their budgetJust because your target customer doesn‟t have one of your types of products and may need one,there are tons of other things that are priorities. If you sell to small businesses, for example,email marketing tools may be very important but so are the computers that create them whichmay be competing for the same scant available dollars. “Only $15 per month” can mean eitheremail autoresponse to online inquiries or printer cartridges to deliver decent brochures. As wewere reminded in the past 2 years, money isn‟t recyclable and as such,© 2011 Apptivo Inc. All rights reserved.
  7. 7. fighting for a limited budget at your target customers doesn‟t always mean your product or thecompetition. It means proving that their business will gain more by buying your product thanany other thing they plan to spend their money on. Therefore, don‟t just consider products „likeyours‟ your competition. Consider anything that is chasing the same budget dollars from yourtarget customers‟ wallets as competition.And speaking about chasing budget dollars, it always bothers me when prospective clientscomplain that they have no more marketing money in Q4 knowing full well that most of theirtarget customers budget for the following year in the previous quarter. Therefore, why woulddo all your marketing in Q1 to targets that have already made their purchase decisions?Being the best solution for the problem at hand is key but also making sure the value is greaterthan other purchases is critical to get that target spending their precious budgets. And don‟tforget that just because they budgeted for it, things change. All good intentions from your “hotleads” may change on the time due to new competitive factors, organizational changes, adjustedbudgets and all the other financial shifts that have tainted the past few years of every company.That‟s why lead nurturing is so important until the sale is completed. The game isn‟t over untilthe checks are cleared and the warranty period is over. And yes, even then, marketing stillprobably has a role in retaining customers and buying more.Mistake #8: Marketing is a scienceBecause we‟ve become obsessed with measuring marketing, we assume it is a science. Sure wecan quote page views and click-throughs but we still can‟t easily measure reputation and rarelythe customer‟s ROI when using our software. I am a major proponent of planning measurementand tracking for every marketing program so you can see what is working and how well.However, I am also a big fan of testing and refining things that aren‟t quite working when wethink they should. Often times we spend marketing dollars on programs such as a direct mailpiece and when it fails, we don‟t take even a moment to find out why. We think because we didall the homework to ensure its success, it should have had better results but in© 2011 Apptivo Inc. All rights reserved.
  8. 8. reality, there is too much volatility in the real world for us to predict. Economic factors,competitive factors, social factors, even environmental factors (e.g. 911, Katrina) are wildcardsas we execute a marketing program. However, when things fail, software companies oftenblame it on marketing as an unreliable concept and in reality it may be the product, the people orthe pricing of the offer – things that the marketers may not control. As such, you owe it toyourselves to debrief on every marketing program that fails.With that said, don‟t get mislead that lots of views and clicks mean lots of sales. Marketingsuccess isn‟t about open links and eyeballs, it‟s about wallets opened. I can stand outside on thestreet corner and get lots of people to hear me yelling a message. Getting the target buyers topay for my software is the only relevant metric.Mistake #9: More information is betterIf you can‟t convey what you do to whom and why they care in two sentences or less, somethingis wrong. I am not suggesting that you can explain your entire offering or competitive value intwo sentences but a good positioning that makes it clear who, what and why separates thetargets from the others quickly. As humans (particularly us girls), most of us are fearful that wemay offend or reject potential friends. In marketing, filtering the market is actually good! If Ican separate wheat from chafe, targets from uninterested, I don‟t waste sales time and marketingresources. Ideally, if your positioning is clear and specific for those who care, those who don‟twill politely say, “That‟s not for me”. Good, then both of you can move on.Now, once you have the target person intrigued, you do need to provide more information toconvince them that your product is not only right for them but the best one for them andsomething they absolutely must buy (ideally now!). Doing this should be done in incremental,meaningful steps. That is, providing a 20 page datasheet may be too much for the buyer toinvest at the early stage of the buying cycle. However, offering digestible amounts ofinformation to the buyer is really important so they continue to seek more and are willing to© 2011 Apptivo Inc. All rights reserved.
  9. 9. invest their time knowing your offering seems to be a good solution for something there areneeding. Slamming them with a folder full of datasheets, brochures, article reprints, casestudies and press releases probably is a bit overwhelming to most any customer in any business.The same applies to your website that probably contains much of this content. Unless it is wellorganized (much like your software itself), it may say more about your company before it iseven read.Mistake #10: Your mother doesn’t need to understand what you doDon‟t assume that writers (me included), analysts or other “thought leaders” understand yourproduct, let alone your specific target customers. Even with industry experience, chances arewe all have our own baggage and unique perspective that may or may not help us know whatyour software does. Throwing in acronyms doesn‟t impress us but rather often confuses us andwe won‟t tell you that because our egos won‟t let us.To know if your positioning and sales message works, try it on mom or the neighbors and evenyour kids. If they can understand it well enough to paraphrase it back to you, you‟vesucceeded. Don‟t assume it‟s too complex for them because if it is, most likely it‟s not theproduct but your words that are complex.Heck, your mom probably is your best evangelist and just may surprise you. I wouldn‟t believethat myself except it literally did work for me. While I was working on customer relationshipmanagement (CRM) software and writing articles and whitepapers for my own company yearsago, I had explained the topic very generally to my mother who had sold promotional productsduring her career. She understood enough about what I did that she connected me to her friendwho was in a bind with a regular CRM section in BusinessWeek. Guess who got thegig…your‟s truly. See, you never know unless you make the effort to get your marketingspeaking for you in a way that everyone around you can easily help promote your product totarget buyers – even mom.© 2011 Apptivo Inc. All rights reserved.
  10. 10. Alyssa Dver is the CEO at Mint Green Marketing (www.mintgreenmktg.com) which offersaffordable, expert marketing consulting and classes (live and online). Her books, “No TimeMarketing” and “Software Product Management Essentials” continue to be best sellers and sheis a frequent speaker at conferences and corporate events. Contact Alyssaat alyssadver@mintgreenmktg.comor508-881-5664 .**Published with permission from Alyssa Dver**© 2011 Apptivo Inc. All rights reserved.

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