The Biggest Mistake Software Companies Make (even the Big ones)…And What to Do Instead!
Want to know what my biggest pet peeve is?
It’s when I see a new software company go ‘full steam ahead’ with building their “awesome product” yet proper idea validation & research is overlooked or left way too late.
NEWS FLASH PEOPLE:
If you’re trying to create a product without a deep understanding of the market and your target market’s need, you’re going to have a hard time bringing in the moolah!
Now don’t get me wrong, launching your product is absolutely all about building an awesome piece of software. But it’s also very much about communicating value to your target market.
When asking soooo many tech startups the age old question of “what problem are you solving and how do you know you are solving that problem?” the answer I so often hear is “because everyone I’ve asked told me so!” Now I’m sorry to say but this NOT adequate validation of your idea and it is certainly not enough to throw $100k plus at a software development project.
And as I like to say all too often to my clients…
If you want to give your software a real fighting chance, then it’s all about whispering the Right MESSAGE in the Right EAR, in the Right WAY…And developing what that looks like for your business starts from day ONE of your idea coming to life.
That’s why the biggest mistake software companies make is to get so caught up in just physically delivering a product, that they only consider how they will “sell” it at the very end of the process.
By this time, it is just way too late…
In fact, in an oft-quoted stat, one of the top five reasons 90% of mobile app startups fail is because of inadequate marketing planning (if you didn’t know that statistic already, sorry to be the one to break it to you).
That’s why this marketing thang is soooo damn important…wink wink.
(Oh and on a side note, if you didn’t already know “Marketing” is not just about buying ads in the coolest magazine or on Facebook.)
So now I am going to reveal what you should be doing instead to ensure you will convert your prospects to paying subscribers like crazy. And it all starts with idea validation…
How to use marketing at every stage of software development to ensure you will convert like crazy!
STAGE 1: IDEA VALIDATION AND SCOPING
In an ideal world, you’d use market research to gain insights into what people want, and then take that to the software developer to design the product with features that you KNOW customers will go gaga for.
The reality is more like this: A plucky entrepreneur or software engineer is struck with a brilliant idea, go straight into development and just get it built, and then (if they have a bit of money left over) will run a marketing campaign for the product which is now approaching completion (or worse is already live!).
Unfortunately we generally see the latter approach taken and more often than not the results are lacklustre.
Having had an insider’s view of how the big software houses run the show, I can tell you firsthand that no matter how big or small you are, the process you need to go through to create, build and launch an awesome piece of software (or anything for that matter) IS THE SAME. And it all begins with a little thang known as ‘product marketing’.
So how do the big guys do product marketing?
At IBM, Uber, Symantec and MYOB, for example, it is the marketing team that actually come up with all the product ideas and product features, and then it’s up to the developers to come up with a way to bring it to life.
Of course, this is easier said than done, and it wouldn’t be fair to expect software developers to be able to deliver on every little wish we have! We marketers can be a demanding bunch…
The next step? The marketers and the dev’s sit down together and figure out what’s the best way to deliver the features that people really want in the first release (otherwise known as the Minimum Viable Product or “MVP”). The feature that make it into the MVP take into account things like market research, competitor analysis, buyer personas, the USP… just to name a few! Then of course there are the other bits n’ pieces such as choosing a name, designing a logo, colours, imagery, style and all that jazz!
According to CB Insights, 42% of startup mobile apps that failed in 2015 did so due to ‘no market need’. That means that their poor software was dead even before it even went into development!
So as you can see, it’s important to enlist a marketing mindset right at the very start if you truly want your software to succeed. Make sure you’ve done your research and for god’s sake PLEASE make sure you have a clearly articulated brand.
STAGE 2: DEVELOPMENT AND PRE-LAUNCH PREP
Now with your awesome product all nicely validated and a schmick brand securely in place, you can get moving on the “coding” side of things and working with your developers to build something amazing.
Assuming you’ve got a kick-ass development team with amazing UX and UI peeps – and all your features clearly scoped – you should literally be able to sit back and watch the magic happen.
While your software is being coded you can get busy on working out your marketing strategy (also known as the Go-to-Market Plan or “GMT”), ensuring all your back-end systems are setup to “play nicely” and you are ready to start taking an influx of leads once you launch!
There is a multitude of things that need to be taken care of at this stage, such as setting up your marketing automation software, choosing a CRM and creating those all important data & analytics dashboards. This will ensure you are a data-driven business right from the get-go.
Then you are ready to plan out what channels you will be advertising in and start to build a presence and some buzz on social media about your imminent launch… we’re getting there, promise.
Umbrella Marketing has developed our own framework for this – as seen below:
STAGE 3: LAUNCH TIME!
Once your software is built, marketing will be the driving force behind any and all future updates & enhancements.
Analysing user behaviour of the software, as well as monitoring customer feedback and reviews, will give gold nuggets of insights into how you can make your product profitable.
Without these insights at your fingertips and the right people who can interpret them, you will be totally flying blind! What I mean here is campaign reporting, in-product analytics, a CRM to organise all your prospects and customers … How can you make smart, objective decisions regarding the future of your company without knowing what all this data means?
Uber is possibly the greatest example of using data insights to drive marketing decisions. It has collected more data in its 5 years of operation than most big companies have in their last 100 years, and they’ve used it to validate their ideas and create things like UberPool, UberEats and integrate with Spotify (just to name a few).
^^Uber’s real-time mobile events dashboard, Argos, gives Uber access to millions of bits of data at once. That’s intense.
So when IS the right time to start thinking about marketing?
Your marketing efforts begin the moment you start thinking of your idea as more than just a pipe dream.
You may not realise it, but even the act of picking an your product name or deciding who your software will be used by is a MARKETING DECISION that needs to be properly researched and validated before you spend a cent getting it developed.
Do this, and you can rest easy that your software will be developed with:
- A cohesive brand that customers will naturally gravitate towards
- Screens optimised for conversions on the goals you want users to complete, and
- A unique differentiating factor that will make it stand out from competitors
This will save you a lot of money and tears in the long run!
Thanks for your time today troops. Don’t stop coding cool sh*t!