Target Market

  • How saturated is the market.  Do a search for type of product you want to offer - are there five or five hundred competitors?
  • What is special about your offerings?
  • Where is the market going?  Your product must meet the market demands of today and those of years to come.
  • What resources are available to you? Do you have the money to invest in marketing a new product? Do you have investors willing to back your product?  How much time can you devote to this new venture?

Business Models

  1. Professional Open Source Model (ex http://www.jboss.com/ and article on open source market http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/jul2005/tc2005078_5465_tc121.htm ). Since you are the creator of the products, users will turn to you for training and support. Increased user investment and reduced development costs.
  1. Traditional Model . Compile source code into binary format to keep it hidden.  Proprietary software sold as-is.  Takes more time and resources to get started - have to aggressively market product to make sales. Have to convince skittish customers that you will be around to provide support and upgrades in years to come.
  1. Free Express Versioning Model . Create two versions of software - full version for purchase and an express version with limited features for free distribution.
  1. Hybrid Model .
  1. Hosted Model . Host your own software and lease access rights to outside users. Retain control over source code and updates or improvements. Charge monthly leasing fee means a more consistent income that traditional lump-sum-at-point-of-sale model.  But you now have the responsibility of keeping server up twenty-four hours a day and you will have to work harder to convince clients that your business is stable.

Evaluate the options by asking these questions:

  1. How will you fund your product?
  1. What are your competitors?
  1. How unique is your code?
  1. Does your product lend itself to hosting?
  1. Who will use your product?

Product Marketing

  • Know your Customers - know the specific vocabulary of your industry.
  • Document It - have a product fact sheet and a functionality checklist.  Differentiate between features and benefits.  Explain what the product does, how it works, and why it's important.  Make it relevant to your target market.
  • Find the Hook - What does your software do that no other software does?
  • Put a Name on it - Branding helps customers understand, describe, and remember what it is they want.
  • Hire it Done - get sales people.
  • Release your Product (http://www.infoanarchy.org/wiki/index.php/The_Software_Cycle)
  • Plan for the Future - build a roadmap for your software to establish where you would like to see the product go
  • Plan for your Product - plan for long term development, it will influence how you code your software.
  • Plan for your Company - where would you like to see your company in five years? What steps need to be made to get there?
  • Automated Testing - Emulated User Testing and Unit Testing. Nightly versus Continuous Testing
  • Managing the Product Release Cycle - it is perfectly standard to go through a few versions of a product to get the one you want to release to the general user base.

Product Sales and Distribution

  • Direct Approach to Sales (ex. Apple)
  • Company assumes responsibility for the sale of your software. You are completely in charge of the customer relationship, you can easily gather valuable feedback and foster better interaction between your company and your users. You can keep 100% of the sales revenue.  But this is a costly venture and sales are difficult at first with an unproven product.
  • Chanel Sales (ex. Microsoft)
  • Enlist the help of another company to sell your product. Need less upfront capital. You loose control over customer relationships and you do not get direct feedback as easily.
  • Hybrid Approach
  • Many businesses start out selling strictly through indirect channels and once the company matures it will make the majority of the sales directly but also have a number of vendor partners.
  • Partnerships
  • Vendors/Resellers
  • Integrated Service Vendors - offers product to their client in conjunction with various goods and services (ex. Microsoft Windows).
  • Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) - most secure form of partnership.  You make a product and another company sells it under their brand name.

Managing Customer Experience

  • Reference Accounts - happy customers who give referrals. To get one you need really good software, really good customer support, and a really happy client.
  • Lighthouse Accounts - leaders in the field that everyone looks up to.  Get them to invest in your untested software is tricky.
  • Generating Feedback - customer feedback is important for growth.
  • Establishing a Product Community - is it appropriate for the kind of product you sell?
 
 
 Notes I made after reading the article: http://www.sitepoint.com/article/client-site-saleable-software

These are notes I made after reading this book. See more book notes