I have met many developers in my lifetime, and I can say that they are hands-down some of the most passionate people on the planet. Developers are capable of creating fascinating innovations that have helped solve problems and improve our daily lives. The technology they build has revolutionized our world; it has contributed to eradicating disease, prolonged our life spans, made our homes more comfortable, and changed the way we do business. So why is it that over 90% of software startups fail within the first five years of their creation? The answer is simple: these highly accomplished developers lack the skill-set they need to market their products properly. I have met developers who walk around believing that their solution is so innovative it will set itself. But the fact of the matter is that no product in history has ever sold itself. Marketing is not rocket science; it is a skill-set and it can be learned. Here are 5 of the top marketing strategies that should be part of every developer’s roadmap so that your innovation achieves sales success.
Know your competitors
Many developers make the mistake of believing their product is so unique that they don’t have any competition. This is a false belief that sets many on the road to failure. There is always competition. Even products that are entirely different from yours are still viable alternatives to what you are offering. It is essential to understand how those competitors position their products so that you can shape your value proposition to highlight those differences. I have a straightforward analogy to exemplify this. My husband works for an open-sea organic fish farm. The company is unique in that there are no other fish farms in a thousand-mile radius of their location (much less certified organic). And yet, their competition can include beef, chicken, pork, or other wild fish alternatives. In fact, any source of protein could be considered competition. Beef may be completely different from fish, but it’s still a competitor. The same holds true for software. Your solution may be completely different, but it is still in some way an alternative. And very often, in B2B software marketing, that alternative is already being used by the businesses you want to target. What compelling argument will you make to convince a user to give up what they already have in place and take on your solution if you don’t even know how to highlight the difference between your product and theirs? Understanding your competition is a key marketing strategy that should never be overlooked. By doing an in-depth competitor analysis, you can determine your product/market mix to refine your value proposition and position your product to fill the gap.
Create buyer personas
Some developers make a great product without really understanding who they are making the product for. By creating buyer personas, you are essentially putting yourself in the shoes of your potential customers to understand inside and out what makes them tick. This exercise is often overlooked by developers who believe that it’s unimportant. Nothing could be further from the truth. By developing buyer personas, you will get to the heart of the most important marketing question out there: what’s in it for me? Every potential buyer wants to know the answer to that question, but how can you answer it accurately if you have not taken the time to understand and empathize with your buyer in the first place? When you target more than one type of potential customer, it is essential to create specific buyer personas for each of them. We all know that generic, one-size-fits-all marketing messaging does not work. By stepping into the shoes of all the potential clients you want to go after, you will be able to tailor your marketing messages according to the exact needs of each one.
Never underestimate the value of having good content. In fact, you can never have too much of it! It’s often difficult for developers to think about content creation since this is an entirely new domain to them. Many get stuck in a loop that they cannot create content until they have a success story to showcase (and they can’t have a success story to showcase until they have customers who are willing to purchase their product, and they won’t have customer who are going to purchase their product until they have content to share with them to educate them about the offer), but the fact of the matter is that there are a hundred ways to create content when you’re just starting out. In addition to use cases (indicating how the product can be used for particular types of companies or industry verticals), you can also tell your origin story authentically: Why did you build this product? What is your driver behind developing it? What motivates you? Who are you looking to serve and why? People gravitate towards authentic stories because they use them to learn something about themselves. By compellingly telling your story, potential customers should gravitate towards your brand. You can then leverage such content to create a conversion-optimized website that generates inbound leads. Content is one of the most important things an ISV can have because it is an essential part of the nurturing process to convert leads into sales.
Evaluate online advertising
Depending on the nature of your product, online advertising can be a quick and easy way to increase sales. Many people believe that online advertising automatically requires a colossal budget to have an impact, but this is simply not true. Knowing what channels will give you the best return is the first step to improving the potential impact. If your product is focused on a mature B2B audience and you are advertising on Tik Tok, you probably won’t get any ROI whatsoever. On the contrary, when you evaluate your buyer personas and know where they are present online, you can truly hone in on the best channels to reach them on and use advertising as a boost to get your message in front of them. Advertising as a stand-alone marketing tactic is not recommended (especially when your budget is limited). However, by integrating online advertising into a holistic marketing plan, you will see that this strategy can provide a great deal of value. When you combine content marketing and online advertising on the right channel to the right audience, you can create significant momentum to generate top-of-the-funnel leads.
Use Feedback from Users to Continually Improve your Product
It goes without saying that once you get your initial clients onboarded, you should keep close ties with them to ensure that they are satisfied using your product. By regularly speaking with your customers to get feedback, you can continue to evolve your product features and development roadmap over time. As any good developer knows, the product is never done until it’s dead. To stay relevant, customer engagement is crucial. By understanding how your customers use the product, what features they love, which ones they don’t and why, you can continually make relevant improvements to your product to serve your customers better. This will ensure that they will remain your customers in the long term, and should even inspire some of them to become brand ambassadors (the best customers there are).