In the Business to Business (B2B) software practice, our goal is to create a product that brings measurable value to our customers. And once that new value becomes the norm, customers rightfully expect more. That’s where new software release enhancements come in.
But the ironic challenge with new releases, despite the new value they’ll deliver, is that many customers are slow to adopt them. One reason for the slow or low adoption of new enhancements is lack of awareness. And even when there is some awareness, there’s a lack of excitement. Yup, I said excitement, and I’m talking about a Software Release. But stay with me. I promise. It’ll be worth it!
The music industry uses a few tactics for generating excitement for a new album that we in the software industry can use for our new releases. After all, our goals are very similar:
The recording artist wants more people to enjoy more of his/her product by listening to more tracks on album. Similarly, the software producer wants more customers to gain more value by using more features in each Release.
Let’s take a look at What how recording artist release an album so people actually want to buy it. Many of those same ideas can be applied to the release software enhancements, so that people actually want to use them.
Create Awareness for the Software Release Enhancements before they’re released.
Use your email newsletter, blog, and social media accounts to keep people posted on the development process. Share User Interface (UI) images, use case scenarios and potential business value examples. The intent is to get customers aware and excited about the enhancements before they’re released.
Shoot a Video to Promote the Software Release Enhancements
An actual video with a set and “actors” playing out a new software use case scenario, or even a simple slide show with screenshots, captivating graphics and background music will engage the audience. Be sure to the video by the enhancement release date.
Post the video to your website, LinkedIn and other industry social media. If the video hits the right “chord“ of creativity and information, it’ll likely be forwarded for further exposure.
Plan a Serious Release Party.
In the software business, a “Release Party” is normally a well-deserved celebration for the hard-working engineers, managers, developers and testers who’ve put in 12 to 18 hour days to get the product out the door. No customers, just the people that created the release.
In the music industry, the Release Party is a celebration to bring the customers together with the music. So why don’t we do this more in the software industry? How about heavily-promoted regional events at clubs with music, food, drink and demonstrations?
If regional parties are beyond what's feasibility, try this:
Create a series of webinars for an entire week with lively speakers, background music and entertaining demonstrations of the new features. (The reason for repeating the webinar each day for a week is to maximize the number of attendees.)
Schedule the webinar to occur during a different time zone’s Happy Hour each day (It’s always 5:00 Somewhere). Call it “<ReleaseName> Release Week Happy Hour.” And promote the heck out of it. Encourage customers and prospects to log on with their favorite beverage! Make it fun, and make it memorable.
Alert the Press!
Done well, a Week Long Release Party Happy Hour can be a real attention-getter. So be sure it gets the attention it deserves. In addition to the standard press release about the new features, distribute a press release about the promotional event itself. If the event is remarkable and different enough, it can be newsworthy.
Be sure to include links to the related content you’ve developed, like the videos, screenshots and blog posts mentioned in the previous steps.
Update your website.
The previous steps have been aimed at making the new release front-page news. So don’t bury it somewhere else on your own web site. Publish some highlights of the release on your home page with links to the other content we’ve been talking about, including a recording of the Webinar and the Release Notes.
Software releases don't have to be mundane events. There's nothing stopping us from being more creative about how we communicate new value to our customers and prospects!
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