Updated May 2021
Competition in software markets, both B2B and B2C, is hotter than ever, with so many apps and technology platforms now having overlapping features & functions.
Many apps & systems are now direct competitors like, for example, the many CRM, or project management, or accounting packages in the marketplace,
- or close-ish competitors where there are enough inter-app similarities for concern.
Knowing you’re different from your competition is one thing,
- but demonstrating the difference to a customer about your product is another
- especially when planning a software demo video which always demands time, money & effort.
Why differentiate in a software video?
Every student of video marketing knows to avoid making a me-too video.
Differentiating is what highlights competitive advantage to your potential customer.
And once you understand each key differentiator
- you need to develop video content that explains the importance of these differences,
- typically through the video script
- and also through the visual storyboard later down the production line.
Since video is a primary marketing platform for software developers.
- you need to put differentiation at the top of your video production strategy
- or customers will buy the other “lookalike offer” that costs less, or looks more like the market leader.
Often customers play safe and buy a legacy product that promises to achieve what you say you can achieve.
Legacy products usually have lots of user brand loyalty case studies to build trust and sustain credibility
- and customers still buy them as their impact and disruption is a known quantity and less risk.
By comparison, your game-changing new technology might secretly be quite scary for a non-nerd customer, who’d prefer to buy from a known market leader at minimal risk.
Buying from you may well incur a learning curve for many customers
- and while you may, for example, offer excellent tutorials
- tutorials aren’t the game changer that’ll consistently win for you.
Your goal is for your software product or brand to become the market leader.
So how does your software video break free of existing marketing patterns?
If I was being cruel, I’d say many B2B software devs’ marketing pattern is all about loudly crying out 3 big benefits
- then cramming in some more benefit stuff for good measure
- and then keeping fingers crossed, hoping ad traffic brings good results.
I hope that wasn’t too cruel!
Looking at points of difference, it may be you have a cost leadership strategy which you think is unique, such as selling at a low price to win market share
- or you may have a lifetime ownership plan, where add-ons and consultancy realise True Customer Value over the long term.
Whatever your approach, it won’t take long before competitors are copying you, making the marketplace even more confusing for the customer.
And your video has to rise above all this, break free.
The most certain way to break free is to get under the skin of your target audience,
- and learn how they make their purchasing decisions
- amid a panoply of market offerings
- that may all have similar feature sets to the untrained customer eye.
Knowing the hearts & minds of your target audience is at the centre of discovering competitive advantage,
- especially in video as it’s such an impactful first point of contact with your business.
Here's a 3 Step Method for accurately differentiating your software product with video.
Used wisely it can also become the DNA for developing a complete differentiation strategy if needed.
STEP 1 - KNOW WHAT MATTERS TO CUSTOMERS
Developers often focus too quickly on the product features they like
- perhaps the features that show coding chops to meet a technical challenge (“they said it couldn’t be done!”)
- or maybe the new at-a-glance GUI, or insightful reporting features they know customers will grow to love.
To counter this tendency of falling back on familiar favourites, try a different way,
- take an evidence-based approach
- and start by asking your existing users which features really matter to them.
Collecting evidence (real data) is how you discover competitive advantage.
Digital marketing is all about data analysis and gathering evidence to make informed decisions.
Carry out a User Survey to understand what motivated them to search for what you offer in the first place.
Customer feedback hones your product development, user support effort and promotional messaging.
I’d suggest ringing them up, or personally writing to them, where possible,
- rather than sending out an online survey as these usually get ignored.
To illustrate, here’s a sample from a real User Survey
What customers were saying
“I just wanted the basic functions”
“I needed to know my return on investment”
“It was the forecasting that won me over”
“Online everywhere 24/7 on a phone, yes”
“It links to our backend system”
“It grows as we grow”
What the developer was mostly saying
Very quickly you can see the developer is pushing out one set of messages
- while happy, paying customers are reporting back on other benefits that are often different, yet important to them.
Often customer-stated benefits were connected with the individual’s KPIs, the motivation that drives them every day.
Overall it’s easy to see how fractures between customer and developer perceptions occur
- fractures that the data quickly identifies.
What you find in practice is customers mostly want to see the features that help them achieve their targets, their individual KPIs.
Developers often miss this point as they’re too keen on telling their genuinely amazing product feature / benefit story
- and forgetting that each of their different customer types (sales manager, production planner, back office manager etc) has their own unique quarterly targets and overall business targets for the job they’re paid to do each day.
If the business owner or CEO is your target, the same rules apply. They still have their targets, and expectations to deliver on.
Key message: Align your benefits, your unique value with a message that matches what your customers are saying.
Key message: Know what motivated them to search for your product in the first place.
This is the first step in differentiating through video.
It works whether you’re selling a product package & consultancy like the customer sample above
- or selling through monthly cloud subscription, as a SaaS product model.
Taking this customer feedback approach immediately gives you an edge, as many of your competitors won’t be doing this so well.
Customer feedback will help establish your Positioning Statement.
Now let’s look at competitors.
STEP 2 - KNOW THE COMPETITION
Effective differentiation starts with studying each direct competitor so you understand exactly what benefits they’re pushing.
To make a clearly differentiated software video, you need an illustrated Competitor List.
- Do a search on your keywords and visit the top websites in your target market. Mirror your customer search behaviour.
- Take a good look around (you’ll get a few useful surprises if you do)
- Do screen captures of their videos (just a freeze frame graphic reminder, not the full video). Do this until you have maybe half a dozen screen captures.
- Paste your screen captures into a table.
Not all will have video, so mark them as “no video”. They’ll be using just text & graphics to tell their message, though I’d suggest they should use video too as 86% of B2B companies do.
Next to each screen capture:
- List the 3 main benefits each competitor offers.
- List their straplines, ie, their value proposition, eg, “better, faster, cheaper”.
Now, all in one place, you can see the bigger picture.
Your marketplace niche will look much clearer.
Compare this to your User Survey.
Some competitors will be missing the mark, according to the feedback from your User Survey.
This is good news.
Additionally, taking a fresh look at competitors will give you further insight into your marketplace.
You might notice some things have changed to your advantage - or not. Let’s see.
STEP 3 - DO A COMPARISON
From Step 2 you’ll have a list of your competitors and what they say about themselves. This is valuable data.
To complete your competitive analysis
- against each line in your Competitor List
- write down your app benefit.
Very quickly you’ll start to see where your brand:
> sounds the same, or has a lot of overlap
> or offers something different - but still sounds the same in the way it’s told
> or genuinely looks & sounds different.
It shouldn’t take a great leap of imagination to start seeing ways to put clear blue water between
- what you offer,
- and what competitors offer
- differences that are supported by your User Survey data and Competitor Video Survey data
- proven differences that matter to your potential customers.
The more fierce your marketplace
- the more you need to go through the process above.
This list will form the basis of your video voiceover script
- which in turn is the engine of your product video.
If you do the research by carrying out the above 3 product differentiation steps, you’ll discover new ways to:
> confidently tell customers what they need to know about you
> tell them in a way that makes you look different to all the other competing apps
> look & sound fresher.
Your video strategy & message will start to fall into place,
- plus this differentiating methodology approach will easily transfer across to your website and social media copy too.
Above all, this type of customer and competitive analysis will indicate ways make your software video more effective, more original
- showing customers exactly what your research data indicates they want to hear
- instead of guessing and possibly making a mistake, or a series of tiny errors that all add up.
Differentiating your B2B software video matters.
To explore further, here are some software videos for you to take a look at.