Software Marketing – Knowing What You Don’t Know

There’s an old adage: “You don’t know what you don’t know.” That old chestnut rings true with any level of marketing in any company.

With the plethora of new technologies, products and services springing up globally, the software industry is particularly susceptible to falling prey to thinking that they do know what they don’t know. Sometimes it’s simply due to more focus on the technology than the customer. Sometimes the executives have no marketing background. However, let’s not bash the Founder/Owner/CEO too readily for not understanding how to translate the key mantra of any company’s marketing efforts: target the right audience at the right time, with the right message. Sounds simple, but it’s not easy.

Targeting the right audience is sometimes left to gut feel or assumptions. If you are a software marketer, you have a critical obligation to ensure that everyone in your company understands exactly who your target customer is. To do this you must talk to your existing customers or, at very least, gather tangible data from your customer database. Knowing the makeup of your existing customer base means more than just what size their company is or what industry they are in. You need to understand what makes the purchase decision-makers tick. Find the nuances of their profile. Document it and parlay that knowledge into a target marketplace.

Right-time marketing means understanding your product’s sales cycle from evaluation to a closed deal. When is your target customer starting to evaluate a solution like yours? When do they typically get budget and have to spend it by? Are there cyclical marketing elements, like end of year implementation? (In which case you should back into your buying cycle and consider certain months or quarters as pull- out- all- the- stops marketing time frames).

The right message to your target audience requires some serious evaluation of your prospects’ needs, the competitive environment and veracity on what your solution actually delivers. Now is the time to poll each of your executives and managers and ask them to give you a few bullet points on what they consider to be your USP (unique selling point). You may be surprised at the diverse and sometimes contradictory answers. Bottom line, it takes time to craft the right messages and you must always test, test, test.

Consider engaging outside services, whether an agency, market research firm, or consultant to give you an objective, impartial, and professional assessment of who your target customer really is, and how you should engage them for increased qualified leads and revenue.