July 21, 2015

The marketing of productivity

Most software technology benefits boil down to either:

My views on the marketing of productivity benefits are similar to what I wrote about the marketing of performance: 

There are three kinds of benefits performance can offer:

  • It can allow you to do things more simply and/or cost-effectively (e.g., with less hardware or less tuning).
  • It can allow you to do things better.
  • It can allow you to do something that would be impractical otherwise (usually because of expense).

These benefits are easily confused.

… “simpler” is a benefit that should not be overlooked. It speaks to all of operational cost, operational risk, and resource availability. …

Overall, the most fruitful performance-related business-benefit positioning usually straddles “better” and “impractical without us.” For the richer or more sophisticated buyers, you’re “better”. For the laggards, you’re taking them by the hand and leading them to the Promised Land.

By way of contrast, I am skeptical of positioning better performance purely as a matter of cost savings.

Most of the same reasoning applies to productivity/personal effectiveness benefits as well. In particular:

Beyond that, selling and marketing software that helps people do their jobs better depends on:

For much enterprise application software, the answers are something like:

That can work fine. But when users have enough status and agency to resist, things get trickier; if the stuff doesn’t get used, then it earns the label of “shelfware”, and further sales can be hard.

In particular, software that helps somebody invest effort so that somebody else can later do their job more easily can be problematic, because the users who are supposed to put in the initial effort keep finding reasons not to bother. Examples of categories that were sunk by this problem include (and these overlap):

Sales force automation (SFA) software is a particularly instructive case:

In contrast, software that obviously helps techies do their own jobs better can be very easy to market — just offer free trials, get the word out somehow, and let the prospects do the rest. Back in the 1980s, this made for a very nice telesales business model, at a time when most software had to be sold in person. And that was before the internet era; now, free downloads and trials are everywhere.

Of course, I’m making some assumptions here about the offering, specifically that:

But if those things are the case, the software business can be remarkably simple.

So to a first approximation:

Thus, user buy-in is central to productivity software success.

If you think about it, I just made the case — again 🙂 — that product management is central to sales and marketing success. That could be a subject for a whole other post …

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17 Responses to “The marketing of productivity”

  1. Elevator pitches and other self-introductions | Strategic Messaging on August 31st, 2015 3:22 am

    […] I illustrated why that’s so when I wrote about the marketing of both performance and productivity. […]

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