Tips for Developing Your Software Marketing Plan

If you sell software or software services, then you need a strong software marketing plan. I don't mean a 30-page document gathering dust on your shelf. Rather, you need a crisp, concise strategy for how to communicate your software's benefits to your target audience, and drive them to the all-important purchase decision.

Keep reading to find tips for developing a strong software marketing strategy, our downloadable software marketing plan template, and other useful resources and tools.

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Click here for our time-saving marketing plan template designed specifically for software companies.

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Properly positioning your software product and developing a software marketing plan is becoming increasingly challenging for traditional software vendors in today's service-oriented marketplace. Your marketing plan should be developed as early as possible in your software planning process, and certainly well before your software launch.

This is especially true in the challenges of the slow software market driven by the current economic issues. To survive in slow economic times, it is important to adopt specific strategies for marketing in a recession.

Follow the tips below to ensure you have the best marketing plan possible. And also check out these key steps for planning your software launch. If you are a software-as-a-service provider, make sure to follow these guidelines for SaaS marketing.

Starting with a template is always a smart idea (after all, who wants to reinvent the wheel) so take a look at our Software Marketing Plan Template designed specifically for software companies.  Or if you are launching a new product or service, then check out our Go-to-Market Toolkit.

1. Do You Really Know your Target Customer?

Given the changes happening in the software industry, it is worthwhile to do a thorough market analysis to understand the current state of the software/services industry and your specific niche in it. Do you target a specific vertical industry, or a horizontal segment? What is your target market, who are your target customers within that market, and what is your specific value proposition (concise!) for them?

Identify your competition by software product or service as well as by market segment. Assess their strengths and weaknesses. Determine how important your target market is to your competitors. Identify any barriers which may hinder you. Include not only your existing competition, but also potential competitors or changes threatening your customer base from the services space. For example, is Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) a threat to your current software business model, or perhaps IT outsourcing trends?

Developing a strong marketing strategy does not need to be a daunting task. Follow these three easy steps to refine your marketing strategy for today's software business challenges.

2. Have A Strong Pricing Strategy

Before you even think about developing or refining your software marketing plan, it is imperative to ensure that you have properly planned your business model and product strategy to win in today's marketplace. Which of the five possible software business models best fit your product and your customers' needs?

  • Single Software License
  • Menu of Component-Level Software Licenses
  • Subscription License
  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)
  • Custom Software Consulting

Or, of course, you could choose a combination of these to meet different markets or different customer requirements or expand your reach within a single customer base. Click here to learn more about tools to develop your software services strategy. 

Just make sure that your low-cost products or services don't start cannibalizing any existing revenue or customers of your higher-end software license (unless of course you have a competitor who is already doing so). To do this, you must ensure your pricing strategies will minimize any channel conflict, and you should develop detailed target customer profiles for each product or service (do not make the mistake of assuming they are all the same). 

3. Target your Messages

Your marketing messages must be focused and directed to your specific target customer. What is your company’s and your product’s biggest strength (in the eyes of the target customer, of course) and main advantage against your competition? That is your value proposition. Keep it simple. You should be able to communicate it without even a moment’s thought, and it must be communicated convincingly and with passion! If you don’t believe it, then you won’t be able to make your customer believe it.

You should also be able to clearly communicate a convincing ROI to your customer. Choose an easy-to-use ROI methodology that incorporates all customer benefits, both tangible and intangible where possible. 

4. Keep That Software Marketing Plan Focused

You've identified your niche and your target customers, and you've got a solid business model and pricing/licensing strategy. If yours is a small software company, or a micro-ISV, make sure you have identified the resources you need for running a small business. Now you're ready to focus on the marketing plan...

One key thing to remember for your software marketing plan is to keep it focused. Don't try every possible medium or mechanism to find or reach out to potential customers. In the best case, you'll only swamp yourself with leads that don't turn into actual business. Follow the helpful tips for software advertising and marketing that you can read on this page. Start by putting yourself into your target customers' shoes: What conferences do they attend? What publications do they read? What industry organizations do they participate in? Are there vendors or partners that they already trust that you should develop relationships with? Based on the answers to these questions, you can put together your specific offline marketing tactics and your web software marketing tactics to reach out to potential clients in the most cost-effective way. Finally, check out this article with the results of a survey of B2B technical buyers, and what that implies for your B2B internet marketing strategy. The critical element of your marketing plan is that every strategy and tactic should align with your key value proposition. You should be reaching out to target customers who can realize that value. You should be communicating in a way that always reinforces your value proposition.

If you stay focused on that goal, you will be able to put together a winning software marketing plan that will properly position and grow your business.

So make sure software marketing is an integral part of your software company planning. You can sign up for our Software Marketing Toolkit program here, to have ongoing software marketing help. Or start by using our software marketing plan template to develop your own marketing plan, or utilize our affordable marketing coaching service to help you define the optimal marketing approach for your business. 

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