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The Product Marketing Handbook for Software, 4th Edition 135

Daniel Shefer writes "If you want to make money by selling your software, it has to be marketed, promoted and then sold to the customer. Doing this is not as easy as it may sound. The Product Marketing Handbook, 4th Edition details the ins and outs of the aspects of software product marketing needed to make this happen." According to Shefer, "this is a great book if you want to market your product and get it sold"; read on for the rest of his review. Even if your software is free (as in speech, or as in beer), this book may offer insights in persuading people to try it out.
The Product Marketing Handbook, 4th Edition
author Merrill R. Chapman
pages 690
publisher Aegis Resources
rating 9/10
reviewer Daniel Shefer
ISBN 0967200865
summary A great guide to marketing, promoting and selling software.

Rick Chapman is also the author of In Search of Stupidity: Over Twenty Years of High-Tech Marketing Disasters (previously reviewed on Slashdot.) He is also the publisher and editor of Soft*Letter and the Software Success Newsletter. The Handbook presents today's best practices based on Chapman's extensive experience, and includes up-to-date information on everything from advertising to OEM agreements, pricing to visual identity.

The book offers practical insights into vexing product marketing-problems. Throughout the book, Chapman gives relevant, down-to-earth descriptions of how to (and how not to) plan and deliver product-marketing efforts. There are case studies from every aspect of the high-tech industry, as well as detailed lists of dos and don'ts.

This is a great, safe place to learn about marketing, distributing and selling software before putting your own time and money at risk; the Handbook includes comprehensive checklists to help manage the product-marketing process. (These lists are also provided on a CD that accompanies the book.)

The text starts with an overview of some changes the software market has seen since the book's first edition. Chapman focuses on one of the most significant changes since then and discusses the rise of open source computing and Linux. He then continues to the book's raison d'être with a brief discussion of why software companies fail.

The first chapter covers market research. Before spending resources on writing code, it is always best to know if there is a real need for the product, and what other companies are up to in the intended market space. The chapter starts with an overview of several research techniques such as conjoint analysis, focus groups and competitive intelligence.

The next chapter discusses some of the hardest issues in marketing software: positioning, pricing and naming. A great example, the OS/2 debacle is a classic study in how not to name or position a product.

These chapters detail how to position a product, how to brand it, and how to price it so both you and your sales channels can make money off of it.

Chapter 3 discusses channel distribution. Channels are the organizations that move a product to the customer. First, you have to decide if you will provide the product as an ASP or shrink wrapped. In the latter case, selling the software requires a logistics backbone that small independent software vendors (ISVs) may not be able to afford. While some software packages can be successfully sold using online channels exclusively, these are the exceptions. Other ISVs have to utilize distributors, VARs, store chains and catalogs to move their products. Getting these channels to distribute the product is not as easy as sending them a copy and expecting them to "see the light." It takes a good understanding of the channels' business models and capabilities (as well as hard work on your part) to get to the point where a customer sees your product in a CompUSA or a printed catalog. Channels have to be located, contacted, convinced, trained and constantly supported to make this happen. This chapter also covers OEM and international distribution issues.

The next chapters discuss collateral advertising (brochures, white papers etc.), PR, advertising and sales promotions respectively. While none of these are rocket science, getting them wrong is a costly proposition. In addition to the effort involved and their cost, there are legal implications as well. For example, not properly estimating the return rate of a rebate coupon or making an inaccurate claim in a piece of collateral can land a company in hot water. Most ISVs outsource these activities to experts, but even doing that successfully requires at least a general understanding of these topics.

Chapter 8 discusses direct marketing. Some of the topics covered in this chapter are direct mailings, infomercials, telemarketing, mailing lists and fulfillment.

Chapter 9 covers software bundling. Bundling is where companies offer two or more products as a bundle. You're almostly certainly familiar with this from the way companies like Amazon offer two related products for a slightly better price then their combined prices. How and why to bundle are explained in this chapter.

Chapter 10 discusses the topics Internet marketing. In theory, the easiest way to market a product these days is over the web. One creates a website, submits it to Google and Overture (Yahoo!), and presto, there are visitors who buy the product. It's not so simple,though: The problem is luring potential customers to the website, keeping them there, and leading them to purchase the product. This chapter covers designing and optimizing websites as well as managing discussion groups, list servers and online ad campaigns. Another important topic is search engine optimization (in simple English, getting your website to the top of the Google and Overture Results pages). The text includes many dos and don'ts on how this is done.

Chapter 11 discusses trade shows. I don't think highly of tradeshows (see the rightful demise of Comdex) but if you decide to go down this road, here's how to do it properly.

Chapter 12 discusses sales methodologies and strategies. It opens with the trick question that most people get wrong: What is the number one reason that software companies fail? The correct answer, of course, is "not enough sales."

There are inherent reasons that you are a developer writing code or a sales rep doing sales. There are the basic character traits that make each of you good at what you do. I'm not saying that as a developer you can't sell. You may be able to -- but probably not as well as a seasoned sales rep. As with other issues, you will need to understand the dynamics of the sales process so you can create a product that makes it easier to sell. This chapter will introduce you to basic concepts such as the pipeline, prospecting and, the software selling cycle. It will also take you through the multiple steps of complex sales cycles which are a painful part of selling large systems. But, as bank-robber Willie Sutton supposedly said, that's where the money is. No less important is the discussion of negotiation and presentation techniques.

The last chapter in the book gives a brief overview of product management and the processes involved. While relevant and accurate, I would defer to other texts on the subject for a more thorough discussion of product management. See, for instance, Software Product Management Essentials by Alyssa S. Dver, or The Product Manager's Handbook by Linda Gorchels.

The book includes three appendices: A product marketing cost matrix, a product marketing resource directory and a product marketing timeline, and ends with a glossary and index. Attached to the book is a CD which includes all the checklists that are dispersed throughout the book as well as several sample files.

The Handbook's depth and breadth as well as the author's experience make it the best book on product marketing I've encountered.

Reviewer Daniel Shefer is a Software Product Management expert and has written numerous articles on this topic. The Product Marketing Handbook, 4th Edition is available only through the author's website. For more about product marketing see: www.ProductMarketing. com.

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The Product Marketing Handbook for Software, 4th Edition

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  • OS/2 debacle (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MikeMacK ( 788889 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @03:03PM (#10071229)
    A great example, the OS/2 debacle is a classic study in how not to name or position a product.

    Yes, it's a great example of why you should be very cautious when working with Microsoft.

    • More to it (Score:3, Interesting)

      by XanC ( 644172 )
      The linked article is fascinating; it actually doesn't have anything to do with Microsoft.

      Apparently the OS/2 betas used Star Trek names "Klingon", "Ferengi". When IBM decided to make "Warp" the official name of the product and launch it with a spacey futuristic marketing theme (right down to Patrick Stewart), Paramount got ticked and IBM dropped the space theme.

      This was a problem. Without a cool futuristic concept tied to the word and the product, IBM had to rely on the traditional meanings of the word

    • Re:OS/2 debacle (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Gr8Apes ( 679165 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @03:25PM (#10071441)
      Marketing had nothing to do with OS/2's success or failure. If you actually study the OS/2 debacle, you learn the following:
      • do not commit to long-term licenses of components at extravagant rates (HPFS was reputed to be $87 per OS/2 copy sold)
      • do not attempt to run another company's software on your system when that company also owns the underlying competing framework without an ironclad contract of said competing company's support for your platform. (Office and Windows - MS finally broke OS/2's support of Office by requesting a memory allocation at the 2GB barrier, OS/2's VM only allowed for 512MB per process)
      • Just because you were hit with anti-business practices in one category, don't pull back entirely from pushing for contracts with vendors (Dell, Gateway, Compaq), leaving the field entirely open to MS's strong-arm tactics.

      I'm sure the list goes on much longer, but those are some of the highlights that truly brought OS/2 to its knees in the battle against MS. Not being able to run Office 97, and the inability of Office 97 to be backwards compatible with previous versions forcing large-scale upgrades (yes, I worked for the military back then, and when the admiral gets a shiny new PC with the latest and greatest Office on it and starts sending out Word attachments, you better be able to read them....).

      I'm sure there's much more, but OS/2 failed for some bad decisions on IBM's part in licensing contracts, and some underhanded tactics on MS's part forcing sole distributorships while simultaneously forcing upgrade cycles. None of that hides the fact, however, that for all intents and purposes, a 10 year-old copy of OS/2 still smokes the latest from Redmond in almost every way technically.

      • Re:OS/2 debacle (Score:2, Informative)

        by smchris ( 464899 )
        Your points are generally on target. But it was demonstrated that vendors were too afraid of Microsoft to carry OS/2 as well. Sort of hosed without vendors. And they couldn't really do a Windows 95 compatible OS/2. They had license access to Win 3.1 code, but look how long it took Codeweavers to come up with a tie-in to the 32-bit API.

        But there were marketing mistakes too.

        1. There was the OS/2 version that worked with an existing Win3.1 install and there was the "full" version that contained WinOS/2,
        • On your vendors too afraid to carry OS/2, much of that had to do with IBM's failure to attempt to get any sort of decent distribution contracts out with any of the major vendors initially. Later on, when MS's dominance and contracts were ironclad, the vendors were afraid to add the additional $100 per OS copy that they were saving thanks to their exclusivity contracts that were in place, because their major competitors had the same contracts.

          I will agree that the short lived "OS/2 for Windows" was a stup

        • ***2. I never saw them but Dvorak wrote that there were airport billboards saying that "OS/2 will obliterate your hard drive!" Duh?***

          I saw them and they said no such thing. However, the ads DID say OS/2 would "warp" your computer. This was a problem due to the Warp naming fiasco described in "Stupidity."

          ***I suppose it could also be considered a marketing mistake to have an advanced OS that needed 8 meg to run when your competition needed a base 4 meg.***

          By the time Windows 3.0 was released the memory
      • by bobalu ( 1921 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @04:58PM (#10072332)
        The real problem was that nobody was pre-installing it, and IBM was also trying to push their own bus architecture on the PS/1, and people got confused about that too.

        It was not hard to install if you knew what you were doing, but it could be impossible if you didn't.

        Also, IBM just assumed all the printer and video companies would put out drivers, and they didn't. The smart thing would've been to PAY them and ship 'em with the package, but that didn't happen. So even if you got it installed it was entirely possible you wouldn't be able to get a decent printout or use your video card to the max.

        The printing fiasco was a real shame, because Presentation Manager gave you great support for fonts, shearing, a lot of cool stuff. DeScribe was a really decent word processor/layout package.

        I ported a DOS control system to OS/2 V1.3, and it rocked. Ran on a 25Mhz 386 with 8M of RAM, 50 threads, named pipes and shared memory between control processes and a separate graphics display, and it was solid as a rock in power plant conditions.

        Now it sits next to my Amiga. :-)

      • You gave an example of OS/2's 512MB per process limitation and then you claimed OS/2 beats the latest Microsoft OS every way technically. Seems to me you are contradicting yourself.
        • You gave an example of OS/2's 512MB per process limitation and then you claimed OS/2 beats the latest Microsoft OS every way technically. Seems to me you are contradicting yourself.

          Yes, Microsoft Office 1997 was truly a technology leader, blowing away all other personal productivity apps by requesting memory addresses above 512MB in the process address space. This was especially ahead of its time, given that most computers back then only had 64MB or less physical memory.

          With the vast address space utiliz

          • > With the vast address space utilized by Office97, it was the first software that enabled the masses to write truly enterprise-class memos, emails and status reports. Only recently have competitors like KDE and Gnome

            Except, of course, that FrameMaker was available on Unix and Windows. It beat the pants out of Word then and still does today. To get a good idea of just how far ahead print a PDF from Word and then Frame... It is too bad Bush/Ashcroft's anti-trust failures handicapped Adobe's ability to
        • Read closely - VM process limitation (for Windows programs). OS/2 itself had no such limitation, and I believe the non VM processes could go up to the full 4GB (finding info on this now is more difficult, of course). I suppose I could dig through the paperwork accompanying my curiosity copy of Warp Server at home.

          On the other hand, I did find some stories while researching the exact memory limitations that .NET appears to crash when exceeding 1.2GB in a process [].

      • umm... those three points ARE marketing issues. Marketing and "business" are almost synonymous. I don't know how many IT pros I've met that think "advertising/PR" are synonymous with "marketing", when the former is merely a subset of the latter.

        "Marketing" is constituted by analyzing a market's needs/trends, defining a corresponding product/service for development, surveying the competitive landscape, developing a pricing/promotion plan, and figuring out how to get the word out to your prospective customers

      • Marketing had nothing to do with OS/2's success or failure.

        I wouldn't go that far -- there definately was some connection. I know genuine, decision-making people who were under the impression that "OS/2" was designed for IBM "PS/2" computers (released around the same time), and therefore not worth considering if the PCs they had weren't made by IBM. That's a big marketing problem.
        • I'd agree that was an initial marketing blunder, although I don't recall the confusion. I probably adopted OS/2 prior to the introduction of the PS/2 series of computers. However, did you know that OS/2 apparently is still alive []? Shocked me, that did.
      • +++Marketing had nothing to do with OS/2's success or failure. If you actually study the OS/2 debacle, you learn the following: +++ Marketing had almost *everything* to with the failure of OS/2. IBM botched the rollout and launch of OS/2 on practically every front possible, as documented in my book "In Search of Stupidity: Over 20 Years of High-Tech Marketing Disasters." +++Not being able to run Office 97, +++ OS/2 was completely moribund by the time Office 97 was released. +++and some underhanded tact
        • Are you so sure?

          OS/2 was accepted for use in gov up until Office 97's release. The fact that MS had found a way to completely break OS/2's 99.9% VM emulation had much to do with OS/2's demise in goverment. It also had much to do with the creation of MS Office as the defacto standard, btw. Consider this, within the goverment, a nice hardware rejunivation cycle started, with the higher ups finally saying yes, they needed shiny PCs on their desks, and they came with Office 97. O97 was notorious for its lack

    • I wouldn't waste time feeling sorry for IBM vis a vis OS/2. They bear almost complete responsibility for the failure of OS/2. MS was simply smart enough to take advantage of their stupidity in marketing the product. rick
  • I mean, if you are serious about making money off of a product, is a book like this going to help you? Wouldn't you just be better off (assuming you have the money or access to money) outsourcing this to a consultant? I would guess it would pay off in the end. Just curious...
    • Re:Really... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by robslimo ( 587196 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @03:18PM (#10071369) Homepage Journal
      Let's say you're starting out small, like working out of your spare bedroom, and your working capital is whatever is left over after paying your monthly bills. Sure, that method is not usually your ticket to the bigtime, but it can be a foot in the door. It *could* turn into a thriving business, building its own capital for expansion as it progresses.

      In that case, yeah, I'd go for the book. I could afford that, but couldn't afford "outsourcing" it. I think it would help. The time for the self-starter with no capital and no connections selling software may have waned a bit, but with the help of the web, it's still possible.
    • by RexDart ( 806741 ) <jim.foster@ c o x . net> on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @03:45PM (#10071624) Homepage Journal
      Even if one has money or access to money (access? sounds sinister... whose money are you accessing?) and plans to hire outside expertise, knowing about marketing is important for a variety of reasons.

      First is simply understanding what's involved. Routinely, engineering types (I speak from experience) underestimate the effort and focus required to take a widget and convince someone to buy it. Having a brief understanding of the problem will allow for better project planning, bugeting and preparation, greatly speeding time to market.

      Furthermore, if a marketing group's strategy and focii do not align with the prodct company's, such a mismatch is unlikely to produce a smoothly-running marketing campaign. Knowing enough about marketing to understand what marketers do (and evaluating how well do it) will allow you to select a provider and manage their efforts effectively. If the product company won't manage those wild-eyed creative types in marketing (who throw facts to the wind and revel in vague hype-speak; again, I speak from experience), who will? They will likely end up managing more than one would like, or else they give up in frustration; neither option will sucessfully increase business.

      Finally, paying attention to marketing (rather than just the 'it's done, throw it over the fence' attitude commonly evidenced) is a proactive, agressive stance that helps eliminate factual, technical and tactical errors which can lead to costly reprints, embarassment in the marketplace, poor reception and possibly litigation due to misrepresentation.

      As a marketing hack, I absolutely rely on the informed input of our engineering staff. I take time to learn the product so I can represent it fairly. The good ones in engineering take the time to learn what my group does so that they can support the work. The better our partnership is, the better represented the product is. One could almost graph it as a linear relationship.

      To many, marketing is almost as unpalatable as politics, but it's a necessary evil. Knowing the rules and order of the game can be the difference between a sucessful, profitable experience and unmitigated, bank-draining disaster, no matter which group of over-dressed Powerpoint-wielding mercenaries is hired to do the dirty work.

      • I totally understand what you are saying, and I appreciate your comments.

        The need for a synergistic relationship between engineering and marketing is no doubt a must, however, it is important to remember the apparent target audience of this book.

        I was not disputing the need for reciprocal knowledge of technical/marketing areas, but rather the need for a book such as this. You have to figure that the core audience of a work of this type would be a small software upstart (if in the technical field). U
        • I see your point... perhaps such a work is 'too little, too late' for many. I don't think that obviates the need or focus of this book, however.

          I think the author's point, and the reviewer's reson for enthusiasm, is the good the book would do were it read by someone still pondering "Can I do this?" I wholeheartedly agree: someone in business should have looked at marketing before opening up shop.

    • if you want to make money, write a book about how to make money
  • by BoomerSooner ( 308737 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @03:06PM (#10071255) Homepage Journal
    How to market your over priced book on Slashdot for free.
  • Mac Software (Score:3, Informative)

    by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) <{akaimbatman} {at} {}> on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @03:07PM (#10071268) Homepage Journal
    There's only one thing you have to know for Macintosh software: []

    I'm serious here. Mac software products live and die by their rating on VersionTracker. Tucows is similar for Windows software, but it just doesn't have the near 100% of users pull that VersionTracker does.

    Oh, and one more hint. Since most people see your software while it's on VersionTracker's front page, release early and release often.

    • Re:Mac Software (Score:5, Informative)

      by HeghmoH ( 13204 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @03:25PM (#10071433) Homepage Journal
      Versiontracker is a horrible-looking pile. It is fairly popular, but I find that the majority of my downloads come from MacUpdate [], which also has the virtue of being a lot easier to use and a lot nicer to look at. That said, both places are very important for Mac software.
    • Re:Mac Software (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You give them way too much credit. Most of the developers I've talked to at WWDC over the years all said they gave up concern about versiontracker ratings a long time ago. Sure, you have to be listed and it is a good place to buy ads, but the ratings are for shit.

      Anyone can rate a product as many times as they want. You get part-time developers rating their products 5 stars while giving a 1 star rating to competitors. You got loads of whiners rating a product lower because it doesn't do something it never
  • by Lieutenant_Dan ( 583843 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @03:07PM (#10071274) Homepage Journal
    1. Animated paper clip
    2. Catchy slogan like "John Rxxxxo will make you his bitch"
    3. Customizable color scheme
    4. Map of Kashmir in a different color from India AND Pakistan
    5. "Built for OS/2"
    6. "Now known as Napster"
    7. "Drew Curtis' xxxx"
  • by iamdrscience ( 541136 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @03:07PM (#10071276) Homepage
    In my limited experience, marketing books are usually not very useful. I assume this is because marketing people are better at marketing their book about marketing than they are at writing a good book. Which of course is understandable.
    • I really liked "crossing the chasm", except for the bit about compensation for technical workers. On the whole, it's got a lot of insights that don't strike me as being stupid at all.

      There are certainly things applicable to the open source market. And a market it is... why do people use Java or PHP or Tcl or Perl? Hint - it's not *just* about the technical differences.

      Anyone got any other good recommendations?
      • One marketing book I found useful was 'Guerilla Marketing', because it told you how to succeed without a lot of capital.

        It included tips on how to stand out from the crowd, e.g. by picking unusual stamps and using handwriting instead of sending serial letters to the CEO that just get dumped in the bin by the secretary.

        Instead of buying the book, I might just market Nuggets [], our new search engine for mobile phones, in my .signature line.

    • Marketing (or any business books) are like SF. 90% of the stuff out there is total crap. 10% of it is great.

      Guy Kawasaki's How to Drive Your Competition Crazy [] is great because it talks about what really makes people do your job for you in promoting your product. It also doesn't assume that you have a huge, traditional marketing department.

    • In my limited experience, marketing books are usually not very useful.

      Ditto for most business books I come across. They're usually written at about the 8th-grade level and chock full of pat anecdotes. But I think that the problem often is that the authors & publishers are trying to stretch a 2-page concept into book length, and so you end up with a product that's 99% filler.

    • I assume this is because marketing people are better at marketing their book about marketing than they are at writing a good book.

      IOW: all marketteers really want to know is how to sell utter crap for the price of 24K gold.

      And marketting-books authors MUST excell at that ... why not buy their cr^H^Hbook then ?

      (On a more serious note, yeah, I know there's a lot more to marketting than that - but it's hard to seperate chaff from grain)
  • by SirStanley ( 95545 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @03:08PM (#10071286) Homepage
    If i've learned anything from the tech industry. If you simply say "Linux, Database, Synergy, and dot com" anywhere in the product description you'll instantly make millions in the stock market and not need to actually sell your product.
    • 1997 called, they want their strategy back. Don't worry it will happen again in about 10-15 years or so (remember 1986?).
      • Re:Lol (Score:3, Interesting)

        by stratjakt ( 596332 )
        It's happening now, didn't you read that article on what Red Hat has to do to "succeed" the other day?

        The summary: To succeed, Red Hat has to posture itself to attract more investors.

        Forget attracting customers, who needs customers? We only want investors! And forget having a product or service that you can exchange for revenue. Nope, these .com whiz-kids actually count on VC as "revenue".

        It makes SCO's "sue people for money" business model look intelligent.
    • Cool, my new " Database for Linux" should do well!
  • by cortana ( 588495 ) <`ku.gro.stobor' `ta' `mas'> on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @03:11PM (#10071301) Homepage
    Yuck, marketing. Right up there with Lawyer and Politican for 'most fundamentally corrupt occupation'. 99% of the job is to trick people into buying shit that they neither want nor need.

    I can't stand adverts these days--and I live in the UK, where advertising is relitively subtly. I think if I ever returned to the US I would die from an overdose.
    • I wouldn't call bare breasts in a soap commercial "subtle". However, bravo to the makers of some of the Euro-Ads I have seen. (BTW I just spent 3 weeks in England and France.)
    • That is advertisement, not marketing. Imagine you are the head of marketing for a company; and the main product is not selling much. You make a marketing research, and discover that costumers don't like the product for 3 reasons. With that information, your company can take two actions:

      1. Change the product, to adapt to the user's needs. You can also make some advertisements to alert people these changes were made.

      2. Accept the shitty product made up by engineers and developers, and try to fool costumers with advertising.

      Marketing is only a management tool, and advertisement a tool for marketing. As any tool, it can be used the bad way.

      • Amen. Marketing isn't evil. The goal is simple: in a busy, infomation-rich environment, to connect people with needs to people willing to pay for solutions.

        Done ethically, it's a perfectly respectable process. Done unethically, and it's as harmful as can be. Blame those who abuse the discipline, not the process itself.

      • 3. Get the advertising people to make a really annoying ad campaign to push down everyone's throats, getting people to buy services they don't want, just to raise the company's profits, regardless of what financial harm it does the general public.

        Oh, and cocaine.

        Seriously - anyone can find nice things about any job, but you've got to look at the bigger picture to get an accurate view of the job.

  • Looks interesting (Score:4, Interesting)

    by r.jimenezz ( 737542 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (hzenemijr)> on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @03:11PM (#10071307)
    Especially chapters 4 through 7. Albeit, judging from the review, the contents of some other chapters seems to be obvious, to say the least (Internet marketing, Web site optimization...) I guess the business bits are what developers are missing, not the technical ones! Then again, image is quite important and most of us devs only really care about internal structure, good design, etc. Seems like the book deserves spending some hours reading it to find out about those topics and whether they're obvious or not.
  • The first step, I believe, to good marketing is having a good product. Easier said than done, I know, but if you spend your time making a great product then the marketing usually comes pretty easily.

    Same thing goes for open source "products", if you want people to use your software, the best thing you can do is spend your time working on it (obviously), especially fixing problems other people have with your program.
    • The first step, I believe, to good marketing is having a good product.
      Only if you think "marketing" means "sales and/or advertising". It doesn't. An important part of marketing involves researching what people want, how much they are prepared to pay for it etc.
      Opinion is divided, but the majority consider that this is generally better done before designing & creating the product.

      Dr Science you may be. Dr Business you certainly aren't.

    • That --together with undercapitalization-- is probably the number one reason why tech startups don't make it: the believe that the marketing and business side is easy and almost automatic if you have a great product.

      Reality check: 99.9% of your potential customers will never know your product even exists unless you a) are lucky enough to be working on the new killer app that would need to be drawn, shot, and quartered to die or b) spend a lot of time and/or money on marketing.

  • Marketing is Job 1 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by grunt107 ( 739510 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @03:11PM (#10071316)
    As MS as shown, a good marketing strategy most often trumps a better product.

    Books like these are good reading for sftwr designers. Some are obvious (determine product focus and need thereof), and including the flops definitely helps.

    Much like the Linux marketing tends to be on the we're the good guys/we're free like beer.

    Apple may have been much bigger than they are if the "We're just better" message resonated better than the fire-sale prices of early-MS ('like nickel beer night vs. Ballpark beer prices')
    • As MS as shown, a good marketing strategy most often trumps a better product.

      Eh... I don't know how much of their sales is from someone "Evaulating the product and marketing points coherently, and making a sound decision based on this information." as opposed to "Well, they have like 99% market share, it came free with my PC, all my friends use it, they don't appear to be on the verge of folding, etc etc." -

      I mean, MS could probably change their logo to a swastika and they'd still retain most of their b

      • Eh... I don't know how much of their sales is from someone "Evaulating the product and marketing points coherently

        That's the fun (?!) of MS mktng - do not get people on the 'evaluate the product' path. Apple woulda won that (better ui, technically superior).
        MS got people (the first few) to buy for cheap - then the 'everybodys doin it' wagon pulled up.

        Kinda like the Pres elect offerings - if people REALLY evaluated these people neither would get elected. Instead it is the ABB vs. Ultra-Cons groups and
  • Dead meme (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ars-Fartsica ( 166957 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @03:13PM (#10071329)
    The software business is already oversaturated with people trying to sell code. Its a dead end, and this is why every diversified IT firm is going into services and why MSFT can't get above $30 to save its life.
    • AHHHH! THAT'S how to weaken ms (lower-casing/deprecation intentional/perpetual). Just keep cranking out code to do something needed more as a standalone than as part of a suite.

      Make something that is EASY, so easy, to use that it reduces tech support calls to ms.

      Just make sure to look for prior art, and to be sure your stuff plays nicely.

      It might help if when marketing your tools or wares you:

      --KNOW what your Customer is uing

      --find suitable replacements or add-ons if needed

      -- you have a working server
  • Rules (Score:2, Funny)

    by rtkluttz ( 244325 )
    Rule #1: Marketing people are evil.
    Rule #2: Even though they are necessary, Rule #1 is always true.
  • by mykepredko ( 40154 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @03:16PM (#10071354) Homepage
    Maybe it's not obvious from the review, but I would have thought that a big part of a software marketing program would be costing out how much the campaign will cost along with a dicussion on different methodologies for raising additional funds for paying for advertising, booths, travel, giveaways, etc.

    While the focus seems to be on direct sales, I would be interested in seeing Chapman's comments on dealing with retailers. I have a bit of experience with the issues of dealing with retailers and would have liked to understand how to respond to how the retailers (Best Buy and Radio Shack specifically) carry out test marketing in their stores as well as helping underlings pitch your product to their management.

    • While the focus seems to be on direct sales, I would be interested in seeing Chapman's comments on dealing with retailers.

      The Handbook deals with both retail class and "direct sale" software. The section of distribution talks extensively on how to deal with resellers and distributors.

  • by Vague but True ( 804899 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @03:19PM (#10071378)
    Read part of it...Sounds like a marketing book aobut marketing, or is it marketing a marketing book?

    Wonder if they read the book while writing it?

  • ... And I agree with the reviewer... It's sitting on my desk now... Just about finished reading it cover to cover... Refer back to the existing chapters often... Some really good advice... We will be passing it around, and everyone will have a baseline in terms of marketing discussions, just as a book on software patterns give developers a baseline for design discussions...

    2 caveats - the graphs/diagrams at the beginning look like photocopies of photocopies... kind of strange... and another curious thing

  • by RonBurk ( 543988 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @03:21PM (#10071403) Homepage Journal
    While some software packages can be successfully sold using online channels exclusively, these are the exceptions

    That pretty much assures me the author does not know what he's talking about. The vast majority of software packages are sold exclusively via the web. They are mostly Windows software, mostly small companies (<10 people, skewed towards the 1-man band), and mostly make such a modest amount of money that the author should perhaps be forgiven for not noticing where the bulk of the software market iceberg lies.

    If you want to really learn about selling software, join the ASP [] and talk to the little guys who (cumulatively) are making most of the software that gets sold in the world today.

    Disclaimer: I'm a member, but I (alas) make no money for telling people to join :-).

    • I suspect the author is considering the broader software market, which still involves a bit of customization for client installations. For example, if you are selling software for 50k to automotive dealerships (a niche market) you probably would yield few online sales.
    • ***While some software packages can be successfully sold using online channels exclusively, these are the exceptions***

      This statement is factually correct. Most software is sold via a mix of direct and indirect (distribution system) sales. Not a disputable point.

      ****That pretty much assures me the author does not know what he's talking about.***

      If you are foolish enough to ignore the power of distribution channels as a software company grows and matures you are going to face tough economic times.

  • SCO Version (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @03:30PM (#10071483)
    The SCO edition of this book contains nothing but lists of copyright attorneys and their phone #'s.
  • Good and Bad (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Nuttles ( 625038 )
    I view this from a software developer point of view. This book is good and bad. It is good because it helps a programmer get the whole picture and in that may have a better understanding of his/her role. It is bad if a programmer uses a book like this for anything more than just a clearer picture of how things work. I have never met a great programmer that could also be a marketer of software. I am not saying it can't happen, I am just saying that I have known and do know a lot of programmers, the grea
  • Marketing for geeks (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Here is some great marketing information based on the "22 Immutable Laws of Marketing" that has been adopted towards software, by an ISV. This is a windows-centric company, but still good info: _M arketing.html

    (There is also a PDF download on this site)
  • by Skjellifetti ( 561341 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @03:58PM (#10071750) Journal
    In my experience, software companies (probably true of many other industries as well) fail because they are trying to sell kewl technology instead of selling a solution to the customer's problem.
  • by fiannaFailMan ( 702447 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @04:29PM (#10072035) Journal
    All you have to remember is to deliver enabling technologies to your human resources in order to facilitate the concurrent development of an upside-down, inside-out, flat organisation that harnesses the synergy of the valuable employees in their various capacities with a view to consolidating the company's empowerment in all areas of the marketing mix so that ........
  • by westendgirl ( 680185 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @04:40PM (#10072140) Homepage
    I looked up Daniel Schefer's website. He has written several articles for []. If you look up that site, you'll see that is sponsored by Pragmatic Marketing []. And who is Pragmatic Marketing? Well, it's a company that provides training seminars -- and they list Aegis Resources [] among their alumni. Aegis Resources is owned by Merrill Chapman, the guy who wrote the product marketing book. And Shefer (reviewer) and Chapman (author) seem to show up together [] in Google a few times.

    Now, I can't be sure, but it sounds like Slashdot published a carefully placed success story. I work in marketing, and I can't say I blame Shefer or Chapman. But I've never seen such a blatant placement on Slashdot before.

    • Dear "westendgirl",
      I would like to point out the following:
      1. I paid THE FULL price for the Handbook.
      2. I NEVER received anything of monetary value from Pragmatic Marketing for the articles I posted there.
      3. I added a disclaimer to my review to clarify the relationship between Chapman and myself. It seemed to have been dropped by mistake during the posting process. I asked the editor to look into this. Specifically, I stated that I offered my comments to the Handbook's chapter on webinars. I was not pai
      • I never said that you were paid by Chapman. I pointed out the relationship and that this appeared to be a placed piece. Given that you actually contributed to the book, it appears that you had reason to promote it and purchase a copy for yourself. Decling receipt of items of monetary value doesn't mean your review is without potential spin. I'm sorry to hear your disclaimer was dropped, because this entire thread would thus be unneccessary.
    • *** is sponsored by Pragmatic Marketing. And who is Pragmatic Marketing? Well, it's a company that provides training seminars -- and they list Aegis Resources***

      I have not nor have I ever had any business relationship with Pragmatic Marketing. As for links on their home page, it's not surprising that a site that deals with product marketing would list other sites that do the same. I am not an "alumni."

      Dan Shefer first contacted me after reading "In Search of Stupidity: Over 20 Years
      • You and Daniel Shefer have made it clear that you share connections. Shefer has stated that he contributed to the book in question, which further erodes potential for an unbiased review. Slashdot's book review policy says that a disclaimer must disclose any relationships -- Shefer says he attached such a disclaimer, but, if it was dropped, you should pursue Slashdot, not persons who question the author's relationship to the reviewer. (If you look further up the threads, you'll see I'm not the only person wh
  • This free beer you speak of intrigues me. Do go on.
  • Ya think? Gee, now THERE's an understatement for you!
  • all you will ever need to know about marketing and selling software:
    1) "no" is not an effective sales technique.
    2) Whatever the user asks for can be done in 6 months.
    3) Get a deposit up front. And your commision.
    4) Don't start development until after racking up sales, producing a product first is too risky. Sales are a good proxy for true market research.
    5) Always list more features in your brochures than your competitors list.
    6) Make sure everyone knows how 'shaky' your competitor is finanacially.
    7) accuse
  • by FlutterVertigo(gmail ( 800106 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @06:24PM (#10073029)
    The stories (not just UL|FOAF) are rampant. Basically, "take our offer, or you'll face us a competitor."

    You also have to be careful (in Olympic lingo) "synchronized software development". Once the partnership is over, guess what's on their drawing board?
    These should be considered using the word "together - a simple quiz for those who have been around for some time.
    n.b. No google- or wick-cheaing!!! The answers should be clear enough.
    1) Microsoft & IBM work on a windows-like product together what happened when they parted ways?
    2) Microsoft & Sybase worked on a DBMS together. What Microsoft product arose when they parted ways?
    3) Microsoft signed a contract to consult with Compu$serve to help them shore up their operations, etc. What online service arose when that contract was over?
    4) When the specs for OLE2 were released, Microsoft was left in the dust. A company named Shapeware wrote a software product which was fully OLE2 compliant -- something Microsoft didn't accomplish until much, much later. (not unlike the fact many of their products do not make the same standards they hold 3rd parties to. Microsoft was in the process of writing a competitive product and decided to shop outside. What was that product?

    I'm certain others can add - I'm just going to stop here so I'm not hogging the microphone.

    \ As far as the naming conventions go, in the 10-15 years ago range, this was a common statement to those who were trying to make a move to OS/2:
    DB/2, OS/2, PC/2
    Half of a database running on half an operating system running on half of a PC.

    Gotta love the peanut.

    ______________________________________ My Trunk Monkey can beat up your Trunk Monkey. html
  • by Anonymous Coward
    After all, I've been learning over the years that with few rare exceptions, marketing drones are basically idiots. It absolutely drives me insane. Not nearly as bad as sales people who insist on "Networking... Networking... Networking...". A technical definition of the sales drone word networking has nothing to do with wires. It specifically relates to hanging around a bunch of other sales drones finding a way to leverage your current title which must match (Chief|Cheif|Executive|District|Manager|VP)+[A-Za -
  • Have tried every means possible to buy this guy's book:
    • Credit card (refused, 2 cards)
    • Phone (voicemail)
    • Email (bounced)
    Should I trust a Marketting Guru who doesn't know how to treat his own (potential) customers?!?
    • My site was subjected to a online cyber attack which led to the credit card gateway shutting down my company's account. Of course, I or a designated backup are SUPPOSED to be notified when this happens, but guess what didn't happen. And since I was on vacation last week and had made a solemn vow to not read my E-mail I didn't see this happening.

      My sincere apologies and please try to place your order now; it should go through.


I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.