Project management software vendors compete in a very saturated market. This fact makes marketing an important clincher in this niche. In my previous article I have identified ten ideas where to promote your SaaS product and I’ve cited the importance of determining your niche and obliterating the competition in that category. Provided that you know your niche well, you should be concerned with not just what you can do, but who can help you. In this regard, it is important that you reach out to influencers and thought leaders in the niche you want to operate in to promote your project management software. In this article I’ll discuss five very effective methods you can implement to engage the influencers in the project management sofware market the right way.
1. Stand out in B2B review platforms
Sometimes, you just have to buy your way in, and for project management software the most effective way get a return on that investment it to use B2B review platforms like FinancesOnline. During initial search people who search for project management software often end up reading reviews on B2B review sites. While such sites do their best to stay objective and unbiased, it is usually possible to a premium package on their site that will show your software more prominently and help it distinguish itself from the competitors.
Many project management software vendors purchase marketing packages on B2B review sites to improve their influence and brand awareness. This does not mean that B2B review sites sell their platform to the highest bidder and launch malicious campaigns against the competition. In most cases, influence means putting key content first and in strategic locations of a page. Specifically, these are the areas of a web page where readers are prone to look first. Having this huge advantage over other project management software vendors is critical when buyers compare their options as review sites usually have a wide range of apps available, and being the first service a userr sees on the site can very often clinch the deal.
Let’s have a look at the most common marketing options using the example of FinancesOnline, one of the most popular B2B review platforms out there. While all popular project management products have a standard review about their strengths and weaknesses, some are simple easier for users to find and appreciate. With the premium marketing plan vendors can get extra exposure and improved visibility on the site allowing them to reach a much larger base of potential customers. For instance, users will see your product as a suggested alternative even when they compare services offered by your competitors, and if your offer is good enough they will most likely choose you.
FinancesOnline also prepares a longer, in-depth review of a product for vendors with premium plans. Such detailed reviews contain a much more thorough look at a product, which is often an effective way to distinguish it from the competitors that are only briefly discussed in the basic reviews. B2B buyers always appreciate a detailed analysis of strenghts and weaknesses of a solution and having one shows that your software can be truste.
B2B experts writing reviews for FinancesOnline also nominate products for various industry awards such as Best Project Management Software, Expert’s Choice Award or Great User Experience Award. It’s always a good idea to get in touch with the site and ask them to consider your product for an award. Winning one is not only prestigeous and a thing you can brag about on your blog. It also shows to users reading your reviews at FinancesOnline that your product is clearly superior to your competitors, wich has a huge impact on conversion rates for lead generation campaigns.
In addition to exposure, FinancesOnline allows you to get more clients. Similarly to most B2B review platforms premium vendors get access to lead generation campaigns that send potential clients who are already interested in your product directly to you landing page. The average conversion rate for such visitors is very high at almost 12%. If you’re interested in promoting your project management software on their site you can easily get premium exposure for your product here.
2. Engage influencers and thought leaders
It is not an alien concept in the business world to have thought leaders and influencers help you promote your project management software. But the thing with the B2B construct is that you need to shield their credibility while at the same time, monetize their influence. It is a tricky process but if what you offer aligns with their beliefs, expertise, or advocacy, you have a good chance of initiating a productive and fruitful relationship.
With this mindset, it is then critical that you aim for top influencers who readily support issues that support your software; basically, tap influencers who share similar interests with you. The probability of attracting them to your fold and talking them into becoming your brand ambassadors is very high. Of course, monetary gain is part of the equation. The best place to look for these people would be LinkedIn, Twitter, Medium, and other social media channels.
Another way to attract an influencer is to directly challenge his ideals and his arguments. While this can be likened to walking on thin ice, with adequate preparation and impressive presentation of your argument, you can grab the influencer’s attention and that of his or her followers. This would lead to more discussion. If you do achieve getting the attention, it is critical that you start your salvo by talking about issues rather than peddling your product.
What if an influential person goes to attack your software in a malicious effort? Then you should welcome the opportunity as this gives you a chance to rebut his statements and reach out to his audience. A good example is when in 2011, industry analyst Ben Kepes attacked Freshdesk via Twitter, saying that this relatively new company (back then, of course) is an “an unethical troll trying to cash in on #Zendesk’s good name.” Freshdesk saw an opening to reach a larger market and responded brilliantly to Kepes’ attack, saying a number of apps older than Freshdesk apparently used the term “desk”, thus reducing the credibility of Kepes’ tweet. The response was celebrated by numerous tech blogs and exposed Freshdesk to a wider and broader customer base. This may be an old tactic but it is effective when you find yourself engaged in a fight with a bigger name. Win the crowd with facts, not emotions or malice.
3. Promote your value content
Buying mailing lists to distribute your value content is a waste of time, as many of them contain junk and bogus email addresses. The best way to really get your content out there is to approach B2B consultants who have long mailing lists. The B2B world has a niche where B2B marketers sell their mailing lists and networks of contacts to potential affiliate partners provided their products or services are of interest to the marketers’ contacts. B2B marketers are professional consultants who build their base via promotions and offer their audience a lead generation pipeline to B2B enterprises. Remember that the key is to have a product that will significantly raise the interest of a marketer’s audience.
That said, it would be hard to tap best-selling authors like Malcolm Gladwell or industry experts such as Seth Godin to entertain and partner up with small affiliate setups. You can try to engage Perry Marshall (PPC), Daniel Levis (info-marketing), Jon Shugart (traffic and conversion), and other influencers who are likely to at least entertain the idea of teaming up and cooperate with the topic you are pitching and nudge their followers to respond to your call-to-action. To make things more legitimate and productive, try negotiating for a revenue share off the email campaign with them instead of offering a flat rate. This way, you can expect significant ROI and not just mere promises.
4. Write for influencers
Many influencers have blogs that require a regular inflow of fresh content to sustain their readership. While a number of them prefer to produce their own articles, others are feeling the grind of other responsibilities and to them free content is a breath of fresh air. If you get the chance to write for an influencer or thought leader, bear in mind that the key to success is value content. Avoid pitching your product or your business. In exchange, you gain exposure to the influencer’s audience that are comprised of potential buyers as well as an attractive backlink to your website.
Your blog post should show your expertise on project management and its issues. If you are not an expert, then you can delegate the task of writing a blog post to your key managers and experts on software tips, essentially describing what your software is all about.
When determining blogs to write for, don’t limit your lists to project management related sites only. Almost all industries need the discipline and dynamics of project management. This angle allows you to elaborate on project management on blogs with as varied themes as marketing, business, finance, fashion, and technology. However, pick a high-traffic blog to get a good ROI. Some of the metrics you need to cover are:
- The blog’s Alexa ranking
- Volume of comments on posts
- SERP rank using the blog’s keywords
- Number of websites linking to the blog
- Social proof like no. of Twitter, Facebook followers
5. Be an influencer!
Become an influencer yourself by creating a blog that showcases your thoughts as an industry leader in your field. You could begin with articles that discuss issues, solutions, and concerns. Don’t be too preoccupied with marketing your product in the early phase.
Understand that knowledge is a powerful thing and by sharing it, you gain the trust of your readers. As more and more people become aware of the quality of your blog, more people become informed with knowledge. The law of reciprocity, which is basically that part of human nature that pushes us to return a favor for a favor, plays a great deal. Once you start talking about your software, then people are more likely to look at it favorably. Third, when you dish out topical articles, you attract more readers. Finally, by sharing your expertise, you demonstrate yourself as someone credible, which then rubs off on your software. All these contribute to the generation of leads at the top of the sales funnel. One fine example is Neil Patel of KISSmetrics and CrazyEgg, who became a successful businessman by initially sharing his knowledge with people, who in turn, readily subscribed to what he is selling.
Reaching out to thought leaders and influencers in B2B marketing often means that you, the CEO or owner, become a thought leader yourself. What you say will be interpreted as something that shows how well you know your market, which is then rubbed off onto the credibility of your software. Likewise, you need a lot of influence or borrowed influence to make sure your project managemetn software gets a steady stream of leads and, hopefully, paying users.