Baby, you’re a star.
You’ve spent ages creating an amazing and innovative piece of software. You launched it into the world with the symphony of champagne corking, to industry-wide delight. Your product is the toast of the town and you’re on top of the world.
Until the next new product comes along.
Now, as the balloons slowly deflate from the launch party and the phone’s not ringing quite as much as it used to, you may be wondering why the buzz (which felt so promising a few months ago) is now feeling stale.
In the fast-paced world of technology development, The Next Big Thing comes around as often as Kim Kardashian takes a selfie. Finding new angles on the same old story can become time-consuming, boring and counter-productive.
However, the wonderful thing about technology is that it is constantly evolving. Developers are continually adding new features, which provides an opportunity to go back out into the market and get the conversation bubbling around your product.
But like any conversation, there are rules involved if you want the conversation to be energetic, positive and absorbing.
Using some truly great icons as our guide, we look at ways they’ve continued to resonate. While it might seem that a comparison between celebrity and a software product is a bit… odd… they are more alike than you would think. Both are subject to the whims of fashion and fads, both tend to be shiny and the monstrous public is always after a newer, sexier model.
So how do you ensure that your product is this:
And not this:
Using some legends as a guide, we look at ways you can make sure that your product is always on top.
1. Be JFK: Ask what you can do for your country: What benefits will your product provide your customer?
JFK may have been asking 1960’s Americans to think about embracing patriotism, but the selfless sentiment at the heart of his message should inform every single action you take for your business. Every time you create a product, or add that new feature you need to stop and consider:
- Why are we creating this new feature?
- How will this new feature help our customer in their lives?
- How does this differ from before?
- How will these new features make our customers feel?
This may seem obvious, but in reality businesses want to toot their product’s horn and wax lyrical about the various features, without stopping to consider how these new features will impact our customers.
Therefore the marketing message must highlight the benefits, not the features of a product.
A great case-in-point is the software integrations specialists Logicalis. Their business focuses on integrating business and IT functions across a large array of industries. Instead of just talking about their products and services, their team started with their customer feedback. Their VP of Marketing, Lisa Dreher told marketingsherpa:
‘What we found with a lot of our customers is that they are struggling to keep up with all of the changes that are happening in technology’
Taking this core frustration, the marketing team, along with the business, spent time focusing on how they could tackle these issues:
‘I think that we started this program from a more altruistic point of view in that we really wanted to provide valuable information to our customers and prospects about where technology is going and how to leverage it. So what we did was we said that we really wanted to create a series of communications that would provide that insight.’
This desire to really understand their customer lead them to create a nurture campaign. Their ebook addressed the problem areas that their customers were facing and was further supplemented by an email campaign, a sales-led initiative and an invitation to be part of an ongoing network. All this activity proved to be enormously successful:
‘The 12-week campaign generated $8 million in closed and new pipeline business for Logicalis, while the microsite generated a 15% click-to-open rate for the microsite. The emails achieved a 10% open rate while views and forwards clocked in at 15%.’
What this demonstrates is that by shifting the focus entirely to your customer, their frustrations and their pain-points, and by making a sincere effort to address them, you can ignite enormous interest and buzz in your brand.
2. Be Madonna: Constantly reinvent your message
Madonna is the undisputed queen of reinvention. She knows that the world changes and so she must change with it. Likewise, every time you add a feature to your software, it’s an opportunity for you to test whether your ideal buyer has changed.
- Are they still in the same roles?
- Do they have the same pain points
- Have they moved from influencer to decision-maker
The thing is, your ideal buyer will change over the course of your product’s life, so you must continuously tweak your message to appeal to them. The launch of new features is prime time to reinvigorate the website, write new blog posts and target new customers. Keeping on top of what your customers are changing will ensure that your product stays fresh and relevant to them.
Another issue you may be having is a gap between what customers think you do and what you’ve added to your business. Milestone Systems, a security hardware and services company had this problem. Their last rebrand had been in 2000 and within the next decade, they had seen their business (and the market) transform significantly.
Given the company had never addressed these changes, their story to the marketplace varied from department to department. This didn’t just create discord, it meant that they were selling themselves short as the market had a very narrow perception of their products and services.
What happened next was the marketing equivalent of a makeover montage. The team got together (presumably played *Vogue*) and did a lot of work on establishing:
- Their brand identity
- Who their ideal customer was
- What products/services they offer
- The perception in the market?
- The steps they needed to take to rectify the situation?
Reeducation was a key part in repositioning themselves. They created a short video that encapsulated who they were, what their capabilities were and how that differed to their competitors, or as Julie Rumsey of Milestone Systems told DBD International:
‘We like to think we have a “special sauce” to add to the hardware we sell, but our previous brand didn’t reflect that.
Our competitors talk about product features and prices. Our new brand emphasises what our competitors aren’t talking about: how our engineering and products secure the lifeblood of our customers’ business.’This focus trickled down to the revamp of their website. Before it was cluttered and featured very heavy on products:
But after the makeover, the website was centred around the pain point of the customer and how milestone could solve it in a clear and beautiful site:
Even though it’s early days yet, there have been enormous positives to the transformation. Rumsey mentions that the internal culture has improved dramatically, it’s already distinguishing them from their competitors and and sparked enthusiasm, interest and excitement.
3. Be Bowie: Be one of a kind
It can be tempting to latch onto the vibe of the cool new thing on the block, you risk swamping your brand and sinking into the crowd. Instead you should be constantly asking what experience your new features offer that no one else does and then celebrating that uniqueness.
A problem a lot of b2b companies face is that they don’t feel like their product is exciting enough to celebrate in an original way. The opposite is actually true. Because b2b companies aren’t known for being glamorous, daring or funny, your business can play with perceptions and create a lot of interest in the process.
One such company is a business called Pazzaz Printing. They specialise in high-quality printing and made this incredibly funny, frank video that exposed a passion for their calling, as well as craftily display the gamut of their services:
Printing is not a service that many people think of in their daily lives, but this video certainly says loudly and proudly why business needs a printing service.
And Pazazz aren’t the only ones doing interesting things in this space. Adobe have a series of hilarious ads. A communications company called Grasshopper tapped into the fears of the post GFC world, with a simple and hopeful message — Entrepreneurs can Change the World and the astonishing and beautiful work made by Corning a materials business, that gives you a glimpse into the future.
Whatever your business is, there is always a way to be individual, by pushing boundaries and not taking the road that is expected of you, adopt Bowie’s mantra: ‘I don’t know where I’m going, but I promise it won’t be boring.’
Shine bright like a diamond
We hope that you can take away some important lessons from JFK and co. on how you can continue to generate interest, excitement and love for you product. If you would like to know more about how trends in marketing you need to download the quick-start guide to inbound marketing for technology companies today!