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   .
Press Releases for Software Developers
from Al Harberg of DP Directory

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Watch your language! - Boost your software marketing by
changing the way you talk to Americans.

from Al Harberg's cache of software marketing articles, written to help you sell more software

Language is a powerful software marketing tool. You can sell more software by writing better sales copy.
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write well and sell more software

Increase software sales in the US

Whether you're a native English-speaking American, a speaker of British English, or somebody who speaks English as a second language, there are some guidelines that will help you sell more effectively into the United States' lucrative software market. Learn these rules, and you'll enhance your software marketing.

The four key areas where your English-language communications are critical are in your press releases, on your web site, in your software, and in your customer communications:

English in Your Press Releases

good sales copy sells more software apps At the 2001 Shareware Industry Conference (now called ISV Con) in St. Louis, I had a long conversation with the editor-in-chief of one of the US' most popular consumer computer magazines. To a writer who had been writing press releases for software developers for nearly 20 years, this was a tremendous opportunity for me to get one-on-one current information from a top editor.

I asked him how his magazine deals with press releases that were written by developers who don't speak English as their first language. He shrugged his shoulders and said that they just don't have the time to rewrite press releases. They receive enough press releases every month that they can easily select enough for publication, without having to do any serious editing or rewriting.

If you aren't a native-speaking American, then find somebody who will "Americanize" your press release before you send it to the editors. This is a free service that I provide to my customers. If my client has written a well-structured press release with good flow and reasonable wording, I'm happy to spend 10 or 15 minutes and rewrite the press release, giving that customer the edge that they need to compete with native English speakers.

Three or four years ago, if you were going to send a press release written in British English to the editors, I'd have advised you to "Americanize" it. But US editors today seem very comfortable with British English. The only exception is the use of collective nouns: Americans say, "Widget Group has released Widget 1.0", while the British say, "Widget Group have released Widget 1.0". To the American ear, "colour" and "minimise" are British, but "Widget Group have released Widget 1.0" sounds incorrect. Don't use this construction. Either Americanize it, or find another way to express it.

If you're a native English-speaking developer, and you're not confident about your writing, then get somebody to help you write your press release. Find a press release emailing service - like mine - that reviews its customers' press releases before they're sent to the editors. Or simply hire us to do both the writing and emailing.

Editors love words. In addition to being clear, compelling, and interesting, your press release has to be properly written.

English on Your Website

Americans and Europeans often have different attitudes towards websites written in a developer's second language.

Europeans are used to interacting every day with people who speak several languages, and they don't expect everybody to speak every language perfectly. By contrast, here in the US I can go for a year without being drawn into a non-English conversation, except for the odd Norwegian conversations at some family picnics.

When Europeans see a reasonably well-written web site in a developer's second language, they're impressed. By contrast, when Americans see a web site that was written by somebody who speaks English as a second language, the errors in wording, grammar, and syntax stand out. Instead of being impressed by how well you speak English as a second language, many Americans mistakenly think that you've made careless or sloppy errors, and worry that your software might not be of the highest quality.

While it's not nearly as important when you sell to Europeans, you'll sell more software to Americans if your web site appears to be written by a native English-speaking writer.

English in Your Software Application

English writing skills matter for software app sales If you use a trial version to entice prospects to become customers, then you need to treat your trial software as part of your software marketing mix:

Your nag screens need to be a series of well-written sales pitches that point out the key benefits of your software, and that ask the user to buy the software now.

The help file has to have an introduction that describes how the prospect's life will be better if they have the registered version of the application installed on their hard drive.

The introductory splash screen has to be an attractive description of the main features and benefits of the program.

If English is new to you, swap. Ask an English-speaking developer to rewrite your app's key sales screens. In exchange, give them material in your native language that they can use on their web site. Perhaps write a paragraph that describes their program, and says that support is only available in English.

A carefully crafted write-up will grab the users' attention, and open up sales opportunities. It's good software marketing.

English in the Communications with Your Customers and Prospects

The argument that I hear every week against offering software with multi-language interfaces is that buyers will expect to receive support in their native language. At the same time, I hear that one of the best time-saving techniques that a developer can embrace is to create a standard set of answers to common support questions.

If you can get a native English speaker to write a clean, clear set of English-language answers to your most common support questions, you can provide your American customers with support in a way that they can understand and appreciate. In addition to having these fine-tuned phrases available for email support, a well-written FAQ file is essential to every program.

Writing Well is Good Software Marketing

The bottom line: You'll sell more software to Americans if you write well. I believe it's worth the trouble. It's good software marketing.


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Your press release can elevate your software's image.
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If you use my press release distribution service, I'll review your press release for free and give you my feedback.

If you'd prefer, I can write your press release for you.

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