Magazine Article | August 1, 2019

It Pays To Think Outside The Box When Marketing Software

Source: Software Executive magazine

By Ivan Levison

You can take a problem with your software and use it to your advantage with creative marketing strategies.

In my small town, the post office parking lot has just three crummy spaces. Next door to it is a bank that has a huge parking lot. Naturally, everyone who needs to visit the post office parks at the bank.

Because of all the extra cars parking on their property, you’d expect the bank to put up this kind of a warning sign at the entrance to its lot:

PARKING FOR BANK PATRONS ONLY!
All other vehicles will be towed at owner's expense.

But someone at the bank knew how to think outside the box. They didn’t settle for the obvious. Instead of being the town meanies, they put up this sign where everyone could see it:

UNION BANK OF CALIFORNIA WELCOMES POST OFFICE PATRONS!
If you're not banking with us, come on in and see why we're a great place to bank . . . as well as very convenient!

What we have here is an example of guerrilla marketing at its best. The bank took a problem and, using a kind of marketing jujitsu, turned it into a plus. The funny, subversive sign says to potential customers, “We’re the kind of bright, responsive people you want to bank with.”

Examples of turning lemons into lemonade, like the one I’ve mentioned above, are all around us and are always instructive.

REMEMBER THE OLD AVIS RENT-A-CAR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN?

Years ago, Hertz was the market leader. Avis was in a distant second place. So its terrific ad agency came up with a campaign theme that acknowledged its second-place status and turned it into a virtue. The headline of one of its classic ads read:

Avis is only No. 2 in rent-a-cars. So why go with us?
WE TRY HARDER.

The ad’s body copy explained that, “We can’t take you for granted,” and that when you’re No. 2, “You just can’t afford dirty ashtrays. Or half-empty gas tanks.” Another ad in the campaign used the headline:

When you're only No. 2 you try harder.
OR ELSE.

Instead of being ashamed of its second-place status, Avis proudly (and humorously) used it to explain why it tries so hard to provide great service and value.

SO, WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH YOUR SOFTWARE MARKETING EFFORTS?

Plenty. It shows how you can take a problem and use it to your advantage. As the saying goes, “If all you have is lemons, make lemonade.”

  • Is your software company’s “lemon” the fact that you’re a small five-person start-up?

No problem. Your “lemonade” is that you provide unbeatable personal service. Your customers’ questions will be answered by super-knowledgeable folks who know the application inside out.

  • Is your product backordered because you can’t get your distribution system working efficiently?

No sweat. (Okay. A little sweat.) You can explain that the crush of orders is proof of tremendous product acceptance and popularity.

  • Is your product lacking the hottest features?

Nothing to worry about. You can position your software as the perfect solution for people who want to get up-and-running quickly without having to wade through thick manuals. You get the idea.

The takeaway message? It pays to think outside the box and seek new ways to turn problems or challenges into moneymaking opportunities. And there are lots of them!

IVAN LEVISON is a direct response freelance copywriter who specializes in writing motivating emails, landing pages, lead-generation letters, and more for software companies. Visit http://www.levison.com/whatclientssay/ for a partial list of companies he has worked with. Ivan can be reached at ivan@levison.com