Software Marketing Resource Articles: March 2004

You wrote the code, now how do you sell it?

Monday, March 29, 2004

5 Ways to Make More Money with Your E-Zine

Have you been publishing an e-zine for at least six months but still aren't seeing real results (read: revenue) from it? Don't fret -- you may just need a tune up. Here are five ways to kick your e-zine income into gear this year:


The adage goes, "If you don't blow your own horn, someone else will use it as a spittoon." If your focus is providing your readers with useful information that enriches their lives and businesses, bravo! That SHOULD be your focus. But now I want you to look out for yourself as well: Take at least 25 percent of your e-zine space and make it all about YOU.

Give promos for your services, products, books, workshops, etc. List raving testimonials from clients and customers who LOVE you. Weave your business success stories into your articles and tips. Share something funny about your weekend that makes me feel closer to knowing you personally. (For more self-promotion tips, see my article "7 Ways to Self-Promote Within Your E-zine." (


Let's suppose I'm one of your subscribers. Even if I realize you offer amazing products and services, I may need a kick in the pants to make a move. To entice me, offer me a special, limited-time deal. Examples: three months' of consultation for the price of two, a 20% discount on your latest book or newest service, or one of your usual offers with a few exciting bonuses thrown in. Make the offer obsolete within a few days or by next week. By putting a time limit on it, I'll be more apt to act now instead of later.

Don't overlook how powerful this tactic can be. Some of my most profitable weeks have resulted from running a limited time, special promotion of this type in my e-zine.


This is a super strategy for service professionals such as consultants and coaches. As your subscriber, I know the way to get the BEST service from you would be to hire you one-on-one, but perhaps I can't afford that right now. BUT consider that I may likely be interested in lower-priced options such as group coaching, teleclasses, online seminars, or a manual/e-book.

This is exactly how I became an author. When I started my first e-zine, my main business was writing corporate communications. After I gained a few thousand subscribers, I realized that my readers were mostly small business owners and entrepreneurs. So I began creating products and services geared toward them. And now I profit more from those each month than I did from my corporate work. (And I'm having more fun, too!)


Do your readers and clients often ask you about a certain topic that's related to -- but not exactly -- what you offer? Then resell a resource that you heartily recommend and would put your reputation behind.

For example, while my specialty is e-zines, I get many questions about creating and selling e-books online. So I continually research credible resources on this topic to share with my readers. Many of the creators of these products offer a handsome commission on any sales I refer to them. (I do this myself by paying up to 35 percent commission on any referred sale. (

NEVER recommend any service or product to your readers that you haven't personally tried and wouldn't back 100 percent. Otherwise you'll blow the trust that you've worked so hard to build up in your readership.


E-zine ads won't make you r*ch, but they can make for some handy extra cash. (I call it my "margarita money.") Most e-zines offer one sponsor ad at the top and several "classified" ads at the bottom. Sponsor ads typically cost three to five times more than the classified ad, but you'll see the ranges vary greatly.

Start by offering ad specials to your own readers. Then also list your e-zine in the many e-zine advertising directories on the web. These services help match advertisers with appropriate publishers just like you. (Need help? My manual gives step-by- step instructions on how to accept and profit from ads in your e-zine.)

Remember that you have every right to be selective about the type of ads you accept. While your readers know these ads don't represent YOUR business, their quality will indirectly influence their perception of you.


Keep in mind that even if you aren't getting direct business from your e-zine at this time, it's still delivering many benefits that may be less obvious. Your e-zine is helping to establish you as an expert in your field. It's giving you massive online exposure. You're gaining further credibility with your current clients and customers. And it's forcing you to package your knowledge into concise articles on a regular basis, which you can recycle for many other marketing uses.

(c) 2002-2003 Alexandria K. Brown

About the Author:

Online marketing coach Alexandria K. Brown, "The E-zine Queen," is author of the award-winning tutorial package, 'Boost Business With Your Own E-zine.' To learn more about this step-by-step guide, and to sign up for FREE biweekly how-to articles, visit
Log In or Sign Up to hide these ads.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

10 Tips for Writing Good Sales Copy

Writing an ad? The tips below -- and the important warning that follows -- will help you to get the very best response.

1. Start by choosing a single benefit of your product or service that you wish to highlight above everything else. This is your "principal selling position". To choose this, ask yourself what specific benefit makes your product or service different, better, or special. Is it the price?, the convenience? the reliability? How are you different from your competitors?

2. Write attention-grabbing headlines. This is very important. People are overloaded with information, so they skim read -- particularly on the Internet. If your headline doesn't get their attention everything else may go unread. Your headline will often highlight your principal selling position.

3. Write a list of all the features of your product or service then translate each of these into a benefit for the customer. One way to do this is to look at each feature in turn then ask yourself "So what?" Imagine you're a customer; why should you care about this feature? Ask yourself, "What will it do for me?" For example, don't just say that you product is fast (a feature) tell the customer that it will give them more free time (a benefit). Better still, paint a picture of them using their free time to go to the beach, read a book, or relax.

4. Write copy that emphasises the benefits in a way that makes an emotional connection. For example, let's say you're selling toothpaste. A feature might be that it contains fluoride. Sure, but that's boring. Rather, say it "Lessens Tooth Decay!" or even better: "Brush with Boffo and Avoid the Dentist's Drill!" See? You've turned a dull feature into a strong emotional benefit linked to people's fear of dental procedures. Isn't that more effective than "Contains fluoride"?

5. Start with your strongest selling points. The first few paragraphs are particularly important. Use them to create a desire for your product or service by briefly touching on the major benefits it will bring the customer. You don't have to go into too much detail up front as you can expand on these benefits later. Do try to get your big guns in early, though.

6. Testimonials sell. Good, believable testimonials from real people will help sales, particularly on the web where establishing credibility is a tough job. For even better credibility, ask your testimonial writers if you can include their contact details along with their testimonial.

7. Write with a natural style. Don't try to be pretentious or over friendly. Just write it the way you'd say it.

8. Decide who you're writing for and why. What tone are you trying to convey: light hearted or serious? What level of jargon are you going to employ? Suit your language to your intended audience.

9. The final sales pitch can be strengthened with some or all of the following techniques: * A good deal; e.g. "20% off". * Urgency; e.g. "This week only". * Risk free; e.g. "Comes with a money-back guarantee!"

10. End by telling the reader what to do; e.g. "Ring now" or "Click here to order now for immediate delivery". Needless to say, ordering details must be clearly visible and simple to follow.

Looking at these tips, it may seem that good advertising involves manipulating the emotions of your customers. Yes, it does. Selling is a blatant form of emotional manipulation that involves convincing your customer that they want to buy your product or service, and they want to do it now.

Is this unethical? Well, it can be. It depends where you draw the line. In point 9 I said that your sales message could include a sense of urgency. A common ploy on the web is to include a claim like "Offer closes this Saturday". If you go back to the site the following week, though, the offer is still available. If you were tricked by such a claim, would you order from that company again?

So, by all means, use the tips above to write as persuasively as you can, but remember that if you attract sales by deceiving your customers you risk legal action, poor word of mouth, no repeat business and refund requests.

So, be as persuasive as you can possibly be, but avoid the temptation to be "too" persuasive.

About the Author:
You'll find many more helpful tips like this in Tim North's much applauded range of e-books. All come with a money-back guarantee.
Labels: ,

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Advertising Techniques for Your Website

Even if you have cooked relishing food, it won't serve any purpose until you present it in a good and attractive style. A good food served in dirty plates would spoil the whole show.Likewise, you also need to invest utmost care to the presentation platter of information, i.e. Website! You should draft the content and layout of your website in such a way that you secure maximum possible chances of turning customers to your website. Law of Nature: A flame always attracts flies! So let's discuss the ways to make a website standout in an ocean of Internet.

Some of the popular methods to popularize your website are listed below:

Using Message Boards.
Never use message boards to just advertise your business. In fact, message boards should be used to help your potential customers about your field of expertise. Don't use them as an aggressive marketing strategy but just use them as a passive means to spread news about your business.

Adding a Search Box.
As you gradually build your website, everything (content) cannot just be on your home page. As your site grows in size, you would have more and more pages of quality information. So you should add a Search Box to your website so that surfers are not confused about locating information, and can land-up directly to the place where the desired content is resting with peace and prosperity!

Using Auto-responders.
As your business would be growing, so would the queries from the customers. Now that you are taking so much labor to market and advertise your website, chances are that you would be receiving many potential customers armed with various kinds of queries. Since customers' satisfaction and attendance is paramount in every business, you can use auto-responders to attend to their queries.

Press Release.
Press Release is something akin to having an advertisement in a local magazine or newspaper on the Internet. There are specific publications, which target your industry; you should find them and send your press release for publication. Such publications usually have a huge database of readers related to your field of fiefdom and you can expect to boost traffic to your site through press releases.

Why Text Links Work?
When most people start out promoting an affiliate program or product, they use banner ads. Banner ads are easy to be placed on your website, and it looks pretty too. However, banner ads usually yield a very low response on your website. Generally speaking, one out of every hundred visitors visiting your site will click on a banner ad and check out the product you are selling. Let's do some math here... If 1 out of every 100-visitors click your banner, and 1 out of 25 people that visit your product site make a purchase, it will take 2,500 visitors to make one sale. Those are not very good odds. Text links, generally, are effective because they check the eye of reader and interest them. Most people have begun to block out and ignore banner ads because they are mushroomed on the Internet. If you have a randomly placed text link on your website, a visitor is twice as likely to click on it. Placing a text link inside an article or content on your website will more possibly make visitors click on it five times as likely. This is the effective way to advertise your product on the Internet. Provide useful information to your visitor and endorse a product that will help them with their problem. Use this method with text links and you will see your sales registering a dramatic increase.

About the Author:
Scott F. Geld is the Director of Marketing for Marketing Blaster, Inc., an Internet firm specializing in providing targeted traffic and leads. For more information, please visit
Log In or Sign Up to hide these ads.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

The Search to be Found

The search engines are probably one of the most commonly used and misunderstood tools of the internet. To those searching for whatever takes their interest it's a fairly murky process; to the people on the other side, the people waiting to be found, the view isn't even that clear.

Before anything else - let's start with the absolute basics. A search engine is merely a site used by people to find other sites. Most of the search engines send out their robots, whose aim is to spider the web, constantly looking for more sites and pages, storing the relevant content and following link after link. As with most things in business and life, taking action to ensure that you're found is more advisable than just waiting for that day to come on its own.

But being found by the engines isn't even half the story; you also have to make sure they pay attention to the right parts, understand what you're about, list you in the right places, and that anyone using their site will find you before they find your competition. Doing so doesn't involve guesswork - all the sites have their own rules and procedures, and on the whole work according to fairly logical and methodical rules. Neither does it involve black magic or guesswork, and sneaky tricks are a waste of time. Getting a prominent listing with the search engines mainly involves a little research, applying a few techniques, a bit of hard work. and maybe just a little bit of black magic for good luck.

Have a quick flit around the internet and you'll see the "7 steps" guides, the "secret techniques", the "insider tips they tried to ban" and so on. Take it from me, there's only one golden rule - for practical reasons I suggest calling it Dave's Rule; nice and simple! Dave's Rule states the following. "There are no golden rules, no tricks and no secrets. There are two factors to achieving search engine success - having the pages on your site setup correctly, and making sure the search engines know where to find you."

That's all there is to it. Am I saying that every single one of these special techniques and secret trick reports are a complete waste of time? In my opinion, definitely. So let's begin with the basics. If used correctly, the search engines should bring in a significant amount of visitors to your site. After all, we're all selling something, and many of your potential customers may not yet know about you.

The starting point is the site itself. There's no point in submitting pages that haven't yet been setup correctly, and doing the groundwork here is critical. An important point to understand is that different search engines have different rules - what works with one may not work with another. There are two different ways of going about it - the first is to have separate pages for each search engine, and the second solution is to setup your pages to accommodate as many engines as possible. We'll look at separate pages for each engine a little later, for now we'll concentrate on setting up our "page for all engines".

The HEAD of your page is critical to most search engines - almost everything between the head tags, the very next thing that should appear is the title. The title is one of the most important tags - it will be the name of the page that shows up in your visitor's browser, and more importantly carries a great deal of weight with the engines.

Make sure that important keywords are in there, and keep it reasonably short - ideally 7-10 words or so. Choose your keywords sensibly - think what people might be looking for. Example - a company called Kelev selling their cold-cure product ColdGone would be wasting their time by having "Kelev's - the only cure that works", whereas "Cold cure - Kelev's ColdGone makes your cold go away" would be far more likely to be found.

You may wonder why the title begins with the description as opposed to the company or product names. Some engines pay attention to the weighing of the title - so you should keep your more important words at the beginning. Think about it - unless you're lucky enough to be widely known worldwide, less people are likely to search for the name of your company than the type of product. Start seeing your titles as the search engines see them - it may explain a lot.

META tags are equally important, and while there are a huge number of different formats and possibilities, the two main ones for the search engines are keywords and description. The important thing to understand about keywords is that they can include words and phrases. Plurals are best used where possible (as someone searching for TIGER will usually find TIGERS) and you should avoid using any punctuation other than a hyphen; under no circumstances use "&" instead of "and", as these may be displayed quite differently.

The choice of your keywords and phrases is extremely important, and the best way to choose them is to work out what people might look for in order to try and find you. For the above example, some good keywords might include "cold, cold cure, common cold, ColdGone, flu, sick, illness, influenza" and so on. Do not, under any circumstances, keep repeating your words or phrases. This is the oldest trick in the book, and is far more likely to get you ignored than noticed. A good length would be anywhere between 100 and 400 characters long, and you can safely keep everything in lowercase.

The description tag also plays a significant role, and you should bear in mind that many search engines list the page title followed by the description when displaying the results of a search. Just take the title of your page, and make it a little more reader-friendly. A good description for the example site might be "Looking for a good cold cure? You just found it! Kelev's ColdGone will make your cold go away. and fast!" A good length would be anywhere between 100 and 200 characters long.

Now that we've covered the head, as far as the search engines are concerned, the most important visible part of the page is the first paragraph. Make sure that it fits in with your title, description and keywords, and try to have the first sentence enclosed in heading tags.

Assuming you've followed the above steps, your source code should look something like the following:

<title>Cold cure - Kelev's ColdGone makes your cold go away</title>
<META name="description" content="Looking for a good cold cure? You just found it! Kelev's ColdGone will make your cold go away. and fast!">
<META name="keywords" content="cold, cold cure, common cold, coldgone, flu, sick, illness, influenza, the common cold, winter ailments, kelev">

<h2>Are you looking for a good cold cure</h2><br>
Sick of taking all those pills and medicines that never work? If you're sick of the flu, common colds and all the other winter ailments, good news is.. etc.

If you set your main page up in this way - you're well on the road to search-engine success. The next step is to do the same thing on all your main site pages, using different content as needed. Some of the more obscure pages on your site certainly won't need this much attention to detail, but look at most of your site's pages as opportunities to be found, possibly by people searching for quite different things. Then it's worth it - a lot of work, but worth it.

But before you start patting yourself too vigorously on the back, there's still a fair amount to be done before you actually submit to the search engines; that's the easy part! In the next article I'll break Dave's Rule and go through a few tricks - which ones to avoid like the plague, and which ones can actually work. In the meantime, start tweaking those pages! Be seen, be sold.

Written by Dave Collins, SharewarePromotions, Ltd.

This article is Copyright 1998-2002 by SharewarePromotions, Ltd. All rights Reserved.
Any reproduction or reuse of these pages or their contents requires the advance permission of Dave Collins of SharewarePromotions, Ltd (Dave has granted SMR permission to repost this article)
Labels: ,

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Software Product Management

Are you facing difficulties in coordinating with development, marketing and the sales channel?

Is your marketing team understanding product features/trends apart from competitive trends?

Is your product feature and functionality evolution late or confused?

Its time for product management. It's time for a re-organization and recognition of product culture.

Product Management was created in the 40s at Proctor and Gamble for managing the business of a specific product. Through the years, product managers (and brand managers) have served as "chieftains of the product" in consumer goods companies. Here the product management was relatively easier for no need of technical knowledge. But in technology market, the three corners of the functional triangle are sales, marketing and development. Each of these function interact with each other but in an highly inefficient and stressful manner. This is because of the little understanding of each other's needs. Interaction with development and clients required technical knowledge, which pure sales and marketing people miss. Hence, came the Product Management at the interface of sales, marketing and development with technical, business and domain knowledge.

World's biggest software products company- Microsoft's careers section has listed numerous posting for the requirements of a 'Product Manager'. It demands business/domain knowledge along with technological expertise and indicates the emphasis it places on the 'product management' function and its skills. If today any IT company has global ambitions and is talking about moving up the software value chain, then it would be a folly, if it does not adopt a 'product management' culture. So what exactly is the product management and how it leads to successful product profit management?

'Cross-functional' challenge :
Developers know technology. Sales people know about the deals they're working. Marketing Communications knows how to communicate. Then where does Product Manager fit in? The Product Manager is the interface of all the three functions and hence 'cross-functional' in true sense. In technology companies, product management often plays a support role:
- supporting the channel with demos and product information,
- supporting developers with user requirements, project scheduling and prioritizing customer and sales requests for features
- supporting marketing communications with product and technical collaterals
As demands increase for more product management time, the product management role exceeds what can be done by a single person. Market-savvy executives rely on product management to identify and quantify market problems and bringing market information for product planning.

Knowledge warehouse
Good product decisions don't happen by accident. To make good product decisions, one must first understand the prospect, and the prospects problems, better than the prospect knows himself. Product management interacts with the market, observes customer problems that company can solve, and then tell the development team about the problem. For example, if one's customers are bank employees, one must understand at least: their education levels, what is their every day role, what their bosses expect from them, their purchase authority, what motivates them, specifically what problems one is trying to solve for them - in great detail and what alternatives exist to ones solution.

The more detail Product Manager has on his customers problems, the better chances of designing a solution that customers will purchase and use. This information is called domain knowledge. It often takes years to obtain this kind of knowledge, but without it, PM will feel blind when making decisions. One must also understand how those problems can be solved. This information is technical knowledge. A high-tech product marketing, PM will find it hard to design good products without specific high-tech knowledge. But there's more. Good business decisions also require business knowledge. Business knowledge includes strategic understanding, marketing techniques, management understanding, financial savvy, and just plain experience. Its easy to find product managers who have only one or two of these, the value is commanded by people who offer the triage of domain, technical and business knowledge.

Beyond titles:
Titles evolve as a company grows. In a small company, everyone does anything and everything. Product planning is done by the president and the developers. With a product in hand, company then hires sales people to find customers for it. Company then soon realizes that it cannot do all that it wants to do without adding some marketing professionals. Startups typically hire marketing communications (marcom) people to create promotional materials. But because marcom typically knows little about technology and the technology buyer, they struggle with messaging. Here comes product management to the rescue of the company by supporting marcom with content. And since they're the product experts, the sales channel starts requesting more and more support from product managers for "special" deals, or whenever a sales support rep is unavailable. The product management person takes on the role of market sensing: listening for market requirements, prioritizing them and analyzing the product roadmap with corresponding business/technical documents. The product marketing person is tasked to take the resulting product and appropriate communications to the market. Understanding technology is still key but now the role becomes one of "telling" rather than "listening."

Product managers serve as the CEOs eyes and ears in the market, and hence serve the business interests of the company by reducing the risk associated with building new products and product releases. In today's turbulent technology market if any company wished to develop product of global standards, it should adopt product management as corner-stone of its products strategy.

About Author: Rahul Choudaha Bachelor of Engineering (Electronics & Telecom), MBA (NITIE). Product Manager with Kale Consultants Ltd. Responsible for product management of airlines revenue accounting products and is involved in Pre-Sales consulting. Worked with Airtel and ITC Ltd. Articles published :

Reinventing Marketing' , Industry 2.O, Jasubhai Publications, Sept'01
'Technology Marketing' , Marketing Mastermind, ICFAI Publications, Nov'01 'm-commerce: are we ready?,
'Bioinformatics: Convergence revisited' in 'Vista' of IIM, Bangalore

The views expressed in this article are the personal views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of his organization .

Written by Rahul Choudaha.
Log In or Sign Up to hide these ads.

Tuesday, March 2, 2004

Idiot Customers

On every software newsgroup on the Internet, I read developers' complaints about how a lot of their customers are idiots. What a bummer!

I've been blessed. In seventeen years of doing marketing work for software developers, I've never had an idiot customer. I've had some clients who had some misconceptions about what a press release is, or how publicity can help build name recognition and generate sales. I've had people who will never win a prize for clarity of communication. But I've never had to deal with an idiot.

In the old days, I hear it told, people had to have a decent level of computer knowledge to load and run an application. Children had perfect manners, snowdrifts were deeper, and everybody knew that if the multi-disk archive you were trying to install used version 2.04g or later of PKZIP, you should start unzipping the archive by putting the last disk into the floppy drive first. All computer users were geniuses.

Today, they let anybody buy a computer, and some of these new computer owners barely know which end of the mouse to plug into the computer. Life has gotten a lot tougher for software developers.

I believe that you treat people the way you perceive them, and that most people can sense how you feel about them. If you think your customers are a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic, then you'll treat them that way. And they'll know how you feel about them. Your message will be loud and clear. If you think that your customers are particularly bright people, then they'll feel that sentiment too, and respond appropriately.

Zig Ziglar is a sales trainer who built several successful sales careers. A decade or so ago, he started his own company which markets sales training books and audio cassettes. His work is widely available in book stores, in libraries, and on eBay, and I recommend it highly. He believes that sales skills are learned, and that successful salespeople don't manipulate their prospects.

Zig tells a great story about rats. It's a true story about a bunch of Psychology 101 students who are required to spend several hours working with graduate students to document how well rats run through a maze. The students are divided into three groups. The first group is told that they have the average rats. There's nothing wrong with average rats. It may take them a while to run through the maze and find the cheese, but that's what average rats do. The second group was told that they had the smart rats. These rats, the students were told, would run through the maze and find the cheese so fast that the students would be amazed. Sure, they'd make some mistakes, but these were some mighty smart rats.

The third group of students was told that they had the idiot rats. Sure, they'd eventually find the cheese, but they'd bump into the maze walls, and make wrong turns. After all, they're idiot rats.

At the end of the experiment, each group of students wrote up its findings. The first group wrote a boring report about average rats doing an average job of finding their cheese. The second group wrote with pride about how adept their rats were in negotiating the maze. The third group wrote a sad report about their idiot rats' struggle to find their way through the maze.

The punch line, of course, is that all three groups of students worked with the same group of rats. You treat rats (and customers) the way you see them, and they respond the way you expect them to respond.

Is it true that today's software users are less competent than users were a decade ago? I'm not so sure. I did a little dBASE consulting for a local company back in the mid-1980's, and of the eight ways that you can insert a 5-1/4 inch disk into a floppy drive, I guarantee you that they'd had first-hand experience with seven of them. These people weren't idiots. They were inexperienced. Once I'd put a label on each of their floppies, and explained that they had to put their thumb on the label when they inserted the disks, they never had another problem.

But aren't today's software users a lot less experienced than users used to be? I sure hope so. Because that means that there's an enormous marketing opportunity for somebody who is willing to treat users like valued customers, and not like idiots. If you can find a respectful way to tell users why they have to choose between your .exe and your .zip download files, then you're going to have a competitive edge over your competitor who resents the fact that idiots need to have something that simple explained to them. If you can make people understand why you offer a big download for people who need VB run time files, and a small download for people who don't, you'll have an advantage over your competitor who sees the users' ignorance as a character flaw. And a larger group of less-experienced users means that the entire marketplace is expanding.

Do you need several different sets of instructions for how to download, install, and use your software? Probably. It would be nice if you had a Quick Start guide for power users, normal documentation for knowledgeable users, and very simple, very detailed, step-by-step instructions for less savvy users. Do you need to include a tutorial (or several tutorials) in your help file? Do you need to beef up your fly-over hints? I think you should do whatever it takes to make these folks comfortable with trying and buying your software.

Find a friendly, respectful way to show inexperienced prospects how they can benefit by using your programs. Most of your competitors won't take the time. You'll get more direct sales, and more referrals to their friends and colleagues. Friends tell friends about people who treat them nicely.

Al Harberg represents DP Directory. Al specializes in press release distribution specifically for the Software and Computer Industry.

Iconico, Inc. Software Stores

Accurate Design and Development Software

24 Hour Discount Deals on Fantastic Software Applications

Iconico, Inc. Software Services

You Wrote the Code, Now How do you Sell it?

Our Official Blog

© copyright 2004-2010 Iconico, Inc. All Rights Reserved