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  • Writer's pictureMarcin Małaszuk

How to Build Foundations for Marketing Strategy in a Software Development Company [Essential Guide]

Updated: Aug 19, 2023

Before You Craft Marketing and Sales Strategy For A Software House You Need To Work on Fundamentals like Ideal Client, Buyer Persona and Stake Holders Profiles.
Build Strong and Clear Foundations First!

For whom is this blog:

  • For software development companies with teams from 3 to 30 people

  • For service companies that start their marketing

You will find here:

  • How to define your target market?

  • What are the differences between Ideal Client, Buyer Persona and Stakeholder. Why is it important?

  • What is Customer Journey?

Introduction to good marketing strategy:

Having a secure pipeline of incoming business leads is critical for your business continuity. The custom software development market is at the maturity stage, so building a sound communication and digital marketing strategy to get sales enquiries is not a piece of cake anymore. However, sooner or later, you will need to face it.

One thing is clear, the way you communicate with clients and position your company will define the profile of your future customers.

Think about types of projects you would like to be involved and associated with. This is the goal of your company, and marketing strategy is a way to achieve it and communicate your competitive advantage.

In this article, I’ll explain what foundations you need to start an effective marketing strategy.

However, it all starts with your aspirations and experience.

Build specialisation on your know-how and passion

That’s right. Each company has experience with a particular profile of clients and has field know-how. Those might be a starting point for you to create a sensational marketing strategy and skyrocketing brand.

As marketing is a way of engaging a particular segment of potential buyers with your service. You need to know who you talk to and who will value your service. It might seem obvious and easy at first glance, but in practice, it is not.

Think about your aspirations and company. The question is what your company should be in five-ten years perspective, what are your business goals.

As a starting point, I suggest writing down a list that will have:

  • all your delivered projects

  • the industry projects served and industry of your client

  • main functionalities you have developed

  • location of your client

  • the technical complexity of a project

  • takeaways for you and your team from the project

  • what your team learned about the industry

  • the profitability of the project

  • how much fun and enthusiasm these projects gave you and to your team

Having that done, look for common points, synergies and opportunities. Find areas where your knowledge is the most extensive and where you can create the best value for new customers & clients. Which projects were most profitable and fun. More about building a niche marketing and strategy HERE.

Role of market research and understanding your target clients in shaping marketing strategy

Market research plays a pivotal role in crafting formidable marketing strategies for any software development company. It provides a clear understanding of the market dynamics, including the customer's needs, preferences, pain points, and purchasing behaviours. By comprehending these aspects, companies can tailor their software services to meet their target clients' specific needs. Furthermore, understanding your target clients aids in identifying potential opportunities in the market, external environment, shaping your value proposition, and enhancing customer engagement. Hence, market research and client understanding form the bedrock for a solid marketing strategy, driving competitive advantage and business growth.

With proper business planning, at the end you can select a proper marketing mix, estimate marketing budget, with matching business goals. Let's deep dive into key elements.

Research your niche and perfect market.

Next step is to do target market and industry research based on the external competitive environment and factors. The analysis helps you to evaluate if the target markets are promising or are not attractive from your perspective.

The number of software tools and techniques to perform market analysis might be overwhelming; that’s why I have shortlisted the best ones for you.

Firstly, you calculate the market size, then check it’s competitiveness and finally check your competitiveness on the market.

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Book a meeting with GrowMy.Tech, to check how you can scale up and get new clients globally by specialising your software development company marketing.

Calculate market size with TAM, SAM, SOM.

Those mysterious abbreviations will uncover numbers behind particular market sement. These are metrics that are crucial in SaaS, but with Service based business, like software house, would be helpful to make a decision where shall you focus:

  • TAM - Total Available Market - total market demand for a service. It is used to understand the growth potential.

  • SAM - Serviceable Addressable Market - it is a realistic calculation of how big the market is for exactly your services.

  • SOM - Serviceable Obtainable Market or Target Market - the market you can capture.

Check Market Competitiveness with Five Porter’s Forces

it is a basic technique to assess the market from the perspective of 5 main aspects:

  • Bargaining power of suppliers - from your perspective, those might be service providers you use or developers' talent pool.

  • Bargaining power of customers - what is your client market situation. Are they willing to negotiate or this is your market?

  • The threat of substitutes - would your potential clients easily hire an in-house team, buy ready software or have other competing solutions.

  • Threat of new entrants - what are risks connected with new competitors on the horizontal and vertical markets? How would EU enlargement, North American trade deals influence your direct competition?

  • Competitive rivalry - the most important factor is direct competition. Is it more demanding on the vertical or horizontal market?

Porter's Five Forces is Powerful Tool to Evaluate Software House Business Environment
Analyse Your Business Environment and Competition with Five Forces.

Creating a competitive advantage with SWOT Analysis

It is a useful technique to evaluate business opportunities or particular decisions. In this situation, you analyse the position of your company on particular markets.

You want to find and work through your Strengths, Weaknesses, Market Opportunities and Threats.

Do you remember the Silicon Valley series? This is a technique introduced by Jared, later on used by Dinesh and Gilfoyle to SWOT the decision of letting Blaine die :)

Use those techniques to build an actionable picture of the market that helps to make decisions and focus on profitable segments and to cut out those that are unattractive for you.

REMEMBER: treat specialisations as diversification or complementary services to your main business. When you do custom software development, add platform or vertical specialisation as a pillar page to your website. Selecting a specialisation shall be a way to secure your business, not to put it on additional risk.

Ideal Client vs Buyer Persona vs Stakeholders

Make Sure You Know Who Are Stakeholders and Buying Personas at Your Ideal Client. GrowMy.Tech for Software Houses.
Make Sure You Know Who is Who.

Get a list of who's who. When you're not in the monopoly business, it is best to imagine how your customers operate your business. What's your role in influencing decision making? Who should we talk to when we communicate? Who is interested in you? Unless you sell to individuals businesses you need to distinguish between two actors:

  • Ideal Client

  • Buyer Persona

  • Stakeholders

Who is Ideal Client?

Definition: The most desired business type that purchases your service.

A sound marketing strategy aims to attract and convert as many ideal clients in your portfolio as possible. Which leads to a situation when you do what you love, and your ideal customers and clients receive the best service levels on the market. Win-win situation, isn't it?

Define Ideal Client for your Software House and B2B Startup.
Who is Your Ideal Client?

Ideal client and buyer persona are not the same. Make sure; you know what is the difference, especially when you target medium and big enterprises companies or corporates.

Ideal clients are companies that match your selection criteria and for whom you have service that brings the highest value. Those are customers that match your aspirations, capacity, skills and for whom you would love to help.

To build an actionable ideal client profile, try to be precise as much as you can. Here are characteristics you may apply:

  • industry

  • specialisation

  • company size

  • company maturity

  • team size

  • revenue

  • geography or location

  • company maturity

  • technology used

There are plenty of reasons why companies spend great effort on structuring ideal client profiles.

For some a particular local business culture that is more appealing, others have the know-how and willingness to take part in tenders and corporate complex sales processes. On the other hand, some companies look only for industry-specific small clients within 50 km proximity.

The better you describe your ideal client, the more chances are to reach them.

Who is Buyer persona?

Definition: is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal client based on data and research. For your ideal clients, you might have one or more buyer personas. Buyer personas help you structure your communication and marketing to reach decision-makers and other stakeholders at your ideal client.

A buyer persona is usually a decision-maker or critical for your service stakeholder.

The smaller the company is, the more decision making is concentrated in the hands of C-levels or founders. In contrast, the bigger the company is, the more C-levels and Founders are becoming actors that only accept the budget and are not interested in decision making. Decision making is dispersed between many people throughout the organisation. Thus, it is a common overgeneralisation that the CEO or CTO makes all decisions at your client’s. For example, chief marketing officer, or manager might be a project leader for digitalisation their marketing activities.

You need to be aware who guarantees budget for your product or service, who are stakeholders that are positively affected by your service, and those who are not.

To make sure you develop your content marketing and communication that perfectly finds your target audience, develop your buyer personas and use them every time you plan your strategies, campaigns or even a single blog post or a social media post.

You can create a buyer persona profile in the form of a text or spreadsheet document and make sure everyone in your company is familiar with the profile and understands who it represents.

GrowMy.Tech Example of a Buyer Persona. Represents Decision Makers in Software House and B2B Startup.
Example of Buyer Persona for GrowMy.Tech.

Characteristics of buyer persona are:

  • Describes an organisation.

  • Describes the demographics of a person: sex, age, education, etc.

  • Professional type: describes the role, scope of responsibilities, challenges, goals objectives.

  • Professional characteristics: how they communicate, where they look for information etc.

You will know that your buyer’s persona profile is complete once you will be able to create a marketing concept, a blog post, media type, PPC ads, advertising strategy or whole campaign through the perspective of the buyer persona profile. Once you say, ok that would be helpful for my persona, and this creates no value for them, then you are at home.

The list of characteristics you should think of is quite long. Check a template of google spreadsheet I am using to build a buyer persona for GrowMy.Tech. You can open it and make a copy for yourself. I hope it will make your business easier.

Other stakeholders

A financial director might read your blog posts about outsourcing as a way of cost optimisation and in consequence, advise the CEO or Product Owner to consider IT outsourcing. There might be a chance that the purchasing department needs to spend time and advise your buyer persona if your solution is worth investing when you speak with a corporate client.

Depending on your ideal client profile, there are plenty of scenarios which are stakeholders you need to think about and at which stage of a customer journey they appear. This is your role in knowing it and addressing all objections they might have.

Build your customer journey map

Definition: Customer journey is an entire experience your customers have with your brand during the process of solving their problem or fulfilling their need.

GrowMy.Tech infographics on Customer Journey Stages. For Software Houses and B2B Startups.
Client Buy at Decision Stage. Make Sure You Know The Process To Deliver Meaningful and Timely Content.

Your marketing strategy needs a customer journey map. This is a tool that helps you to solve your potential customers' problems and become a client of yours.

Usually, it is composed of three basic stages: getting awareness of the problem or need, consideration available solutions, and decision making. Each step characterises different levels of awareness, willingness to be contacted and other content types, they have impact on your promotional activities.

In a custom software development business those might be:

  • Awareness stage: Client requires a new product launch or difficulty in recruiting good professionals.

    • The clients use search engines to find answers to their problem. Your ad addresses the problem and moves the client to your landing pages or your website with content that helps them understand their situation and options they have.

  • Consideration stage: Client reads about outsourcing vs in-house software development, best recruitment practises,

    • It is where you want the client to learn more about solutions you have, how you can help them and finally press the 'contact us' button.

  • Decision making: the whole sales process is facilitated with testimonials, case studies, pro-tips, great service and buying enablement materials. You ensure your client is comfortable and gets all the information they need on time.

Customer journey maps might be different for one industry and another. Make sure that information and quality content you provide are helpful, precise, understandable and timely. Use your buyer’s persona medium of preference.

Building a customer journey maps you will try to understand how your potential customers feel at every stage, what they write in their search engines, which websites they use to verify information, which social media platforms are their preferred ones.

At GrowMy.Tech for mapping Your Journey I am using templates prepared by HubSpot. Link HERE.

Next steps-how to create a marketing plan for software development company?

The above-mentioned tools and methods will allow you to build foundations for your business and marketing strategy and plan for 2024. It is a small piece of work compared to what is ahead of you, but it is fundamental to work with purpose and to keep the focus on what is most important goals.

As a next step, you will need to set SMART goals, those can be your key performance indicators (KPIs), estimate budget and build marketing strategy with an actionable plan.

SMART goals, an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound, are a strategic planning tool that offers a clear and structured manner to set objectives. In a software development company, these goals are essential to ensure that each task or project is executed efficiently and effectively. SMART goals enhance the ability to track progress, measure success, and prioritize resources. They serve as a roadmap, guiding the team towards the desired outcome within a specified time frame. Ultimately, through the implementation of SMART goals, a software development company can improve productivity, enhance team collaboration, and achieve a higher level of operational excellence.

  • digital marketing

  • outbound marketing

  • inbound marketing

  • content marketing

  • search engines marketing

  • your website communication

  • email marketing

  • social media and social selling

  • visibility on marketplaces etc.

Which one to choose depends on your target market, your resources, skills of partners you have.

Within GrowMy.Tech blog I will try to help you out on all your steps on a journey to build a skyrocketing brand for your software company.

🚀🚀🚀 👇👇👇 🚀🚀🚀

Book a meeting with GrowMy.Tech, to check how you can scale up and get new clients globally by niching down your software development company marketing.

Conclusion on marketing strategy foundations

The earlier you will start the groundwork for marketing and sales strategies, the better is for your company. These fundamentals will become a north star on your journey, thanks to which you might get the speed and focus on the most important aspects for your clients and your business.

On a stage of crafting a strategy, you will face questions which opportunities to pick and which tactics to use. It is easy to lose track and go into a dead-end unless you focus on your target buyers & client and their needs.

Thank you for reading my blog. If you find this post useful or you feel there is some information that is lacking here, please drop a comment below. I will do my best to address all comments either in the thread or in the next article.

Which aspect of preparing fundamentals for a marketing and sales strategy was the most demanding for you?

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