What do you call the kind of company you work for? I think most people have a pretty simple answer to this question: retailer, construction company, coffee house, grocer, insurance company, hospital, etc. I don’t think that’s true for companies that build custom software.
Perhaps this reveals our industry’s relative immaturity but I also think it says something about the differing views we have on what exactly it is we offer clients. I got thinking more about this in a recent conversation with a potential customer. He found it curious, in his national search for a vendor, that every company he’d talked to had a different way of describing themselves.
I thought it would be interesting to gather some data. The names below are from companies that compete in some way with my company, Atomic Object, and were compiled based on either my first-hand experience (I heard someone use it) or its use on their website. Interestingly, a very common identification used on websites is nothing at all — in other words, the company doesn’t say what it is, just what it does.
Innovation services firms that build software for their clients are critical elements of a competitive national economy. It seems strange that we don’t have a consistent name for them.
Which are your favorites? Any new candidates to suggest?
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Paul PagelNovember 29, 2012
Interesting point Carl. We use software craftsmanship studio because its differentiation. Most of our clients come through reputation rather than seekers, so the marketing hit we take is currently bearable. I wonder how many seekers like your example we are missing.
Carl EricksonNovember 29, 2012
I would hope that most serious seekers take the time to read pretty thoroughly once they reach a given site. If that’s true, it doesn’t matter so much the phrase used since they’ll see plenty of description.
Where I think this is a bigger issue for our industry is that we make it difficult, with our wide variety of names, for people to find us in the first place.
I’ve done quite a bit of thinking about those “missing seekers” you wonder about, Paul. We’re trying some things to actually estimate this as well.
Matthew chatlinDecember 6, 2012
I like the Guy Kawasaki approach say simply who you are in a one line tag, then have a company motto
OwnThePlay–online fantasy gambling
motto–we are always on the grind
Atomic Object–a Software development company
I am never going to google software craftsmanship studio, but i will google a software development company in detroit.
Your comment below makes me think you agree with me.
Carl EricksonDecember 6, 2012
It’s a highly interesting question to me, Matthew. What phrases do people search for when they are looking to have a software product built?
Your answer to the question is the one I believe is most common.Carl
Paul PagelDecember 6, 2012
I don’t have an answer, but maybe to color in the problem a little. Full disclosure, I am a complete novice when it comes to marketing.
I find most people we end up signing as clients fall in to these categories:1 – They have a product and need great talent to get it to market. They already respect high engineering talent. Our reputation, not our search results have been the driving force.2 – They need a problem solved and the solution translated in to software. These are usually earlier stage startups or new products inside existing companies.I have no clue what the thoughts of either of those purchasers software. What do you search for to find talent? Searching for any of the generic terms like quality software, custom software, etc ends up being an exercise in who has the largest marketing budget rather than who has the talent. I’d like to trust the purchaser is doing more than a web search since software isn’t cheap.
CarlDecember 6, 2012
I’m no pro either, Paul, but I have done a bunch of thinking on this. I think we can trust serious customers to do quality diligence, but they have to find you first. Web can be an important component of that in my experience.
Maybe I should do a talk at SCNA next year on marketing for craftsmen.