Use the 4 M’s of Brand Awareness To Reach Your Niche Software Audience

August 21, 2023
Contributor: Amita Jain

Learn how to use the four M’s to boost brand visibility within your software niche.

Some software brands have reached a point where they’ve become part of the daily lexicon and are used as verbs. Think of how we “Google” a query instead of searching it online or “Slack” someone instead of messaging them. Similarly, we “Photoshop” images and “WhatsApp” instant messages.

These brands have so effectively catered to their niche and solved specific problems that they’ve replaced common terms used for those activities.

While it may be a lofty goal to achieve Google’s level of brand recognition, it doesn’t mean you can’t do more to boost your software brand’s awareness and visibility until you're mentioned day-to-day within your niche.

To help you get there, we’ll equip you with the four M’s of effective brand awareness — market, message, medium and measure — to successfully launch your brand strategy and increase visibility among your software niche. 

1. Market: Understand your target audience

Precision is key in niche software marketing. Depending on your product, your target audience could be businesses in a specific industry (B2B) or individual professionals in specialized roles (B2C). The first step is identifying your unique buying group and honing in on their specific characteristics and needs.

Remember, you don’t have to reach all your target buyers with one brand awareness campaign. Concentrate on a niche target market with less competition to give a clear direction to your messaging. If you go too broad when identifying your target audience, you risk diluting your message. Conversely, if you go too narrow, you risk missing out on potential customers.

For example, if you’re marketing medical billing software, your target audience might be healthcare providers grappling with the complexities of insurance claims processing. 

Tips for selecting your target audience
 
  • Identify decision makers. General managers and C-level executives are the most common roles involved in purchasing software. Understanding their needs, pain points and motivations is key to increasing your chances of being shortlisted by their software buying team.
  • Leverage market research. To avoid being overly narrow in audience selection, use market research. Estimate the size of your target market and the potential value of reaching that segment. For example, if you’re targeting small healthcare businesses in New York, consider the number of such businesses, their average spending on software solutions and their potential to switch to your solution. Aim to initially capture a certain percent (say 10%) of this market, and plan for complete market capture within the next five years.
  • Consider both buyer and enterprise personas. When developing personas for your target buyers, consider their individual traits, such as demographics and role, as well as the characteristics of the enterprise they work in, such as the size of their firm, technical maturity and number of employees. For example, if you’re targeting a chief medical officer (CMO), create separate personas for “a CMO at a large enterprise” and “a CMO at a startup.”

2. Message: Tailor messaging to buyers’ needs

When it comes to brand awareness messaging, it’s not about what your offering can do but how you communicate its value to prospective customers. Your messages should convey your brand’s unique position, mission and values. What makes you different? What value do you offer that no one else does? What do you want to be known for?

It’s ideal to craft your messaging around your potential customer’s needs. Clearly communicate how your software isn’t just another generic tool but a specialized solution designed specifically for their unique context. Develop content ideas to address the key questions buyers have at different stages of their purchase journey: when they're exploring solutions for a problem, when they’re evaluating different options and when they’re engaging with shortlisted providers.

Finally, ensure all forms of brand content (e.g., marketing collateral, blog articles, pamphlets, videos, sales deck) tie back to your unique brand position and value. The image below highlights the various types of content prospects find valuable during different buying stages.

Tips to tailor your content for buyers’ needs

 

  • Use customer stories. Seventy-four percent of marketers incorporate customer stories into their content marketing plans.[1] Customer success narratives are powerful content tools applicable across the buying journey. In the early stages, they provide inspiration about what change could look like and what could be achieved with your software. Later, they offer social proof to substantiate the promised outcomes, boosting a potential customer’s confidence in your solution.
  • Leverage user-generated content from platforms such as Gartner Digital Markets to create your bank of content, including customer review quotes, testimonials and customer story videos. Reuse, redistribute and repurpose this content across marketing channels to build brand recognition in your software niche.
  • Provide resources such as implementation guides and value assessment tools to support lower-funnel buyer activities. These content types, though often overlooked in content marketing plans,[2] help buyers justify software investment and build a business case.
  • Use consistent colors, fonts, images, logos and tone across messages and brand awareness marketing channels. This consistency will give your audience a coherent customer experience and improve brand recall value. 

3. Medium: Choose the most appropriate marketing channels to reach buyers

On average, prospects need to see a brand on social media or in their email inbox at least seven times before registering it as a legitimate option for purchase.[3] This underlines the importance of multi-channel marketing for your brand awareness campaigns.

Digital marketing channels are broadly categorized into two types: pull and push. Incorporate both in your brand awareness strategy to maximize reach and impact. 

Pull marketing channels
 
  • Software review and comparison sites: Eighty-six percent of software buyers say reviews are “important” or “very important” to evaluate options and get an unbiased opinion before purchasing. Product reviews and customer stories act as evidence and social proof for buyers. Having your software listed on popular review sites lends credibility and drives trust among potential customers. Establish presence on Gartner Digital Markets’ review platforms — Capterra, Software Advice, GetApp and UpCity — that offer over 1,400 software and service categories, attracting buyers looking for specific business solutions. 

A basic vs. upgraded product profile on Capterra, a Gartner Digital Markets’ software comparison site [4]

  • Third-party mentions: Tech marketers with the highest number of marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) saw the best content asset performance from white papers, podcasts, videos and licensed content created by an independent third party. [1] Buyers consider these mentions critical to their decision, as they seek out information beyond the content created by software providers. Being declared as a top player in a software category or mentioned in top-rated reports such as Capterra Shortlist, for instance, can enhance your brand’s exposure and authority. Display these awards, mentions, rankings and badges across marketing messages to boost reputation. 

Capterra Shortlist report example [5]

  • Search engine results: Use search engine optimization (SEO) to reach prospects searching online for terms related to your software niche. Your SEO strategy should involve curating content that potential buyers can use to overcome challenges within their niche.
Push marketing channels

 

  • Social media platforms: Among B2B buyers who use social media to inform a technology purchase, nearly half use LinkedIn, according to a Gartner report.[6] Assess how your audience uses LinkedIn and other popular B2B social media channels, and create content appropriate for these channels.
  • Industry publications and events: Publishing white papers, opinions and articles in industry-specific publications can help establish your software brand as a thought leader and increase brand visibility. Attending and speaking at events in your niche is another great way to share your insights and offerings.
  • Digital advertising: Promote your products and services via digital advertising on platforms such as search engines and social media sites. Digital advertising platforms can help you reach your potential audience through targeted advertisements. Explore the most effective paid marketing channels to boost brand reach for your software.

4. Measure: Use data and customer feedback to track performance

Once you’ve put your brand out there, measure how well it’s performing among your target audience. Go beyond vanity metrics, such as social media likes. The reason you should measure brand awareness: is to understand how your product is perceived by customers and gauge branding’s effectiveness in boosting their perception. 

To assess your brand’s strength and impact on customers, track how many customers are willing to leave a review. Measure aided brand awareness versus unaided brand awareness. Additionally, use tools such as sentiment analysis, word clouds and heat maps to visualize and interpret how visitors engage with your marketing materials. 

Remember, building brand awareness requires constant investment, monitoring and adjustment to stay effective and relevant. The goal is to determine what’s working and what isn’t and use that information to refine your content messaging, design and choice of brand awareness marketing channels.

Leverage the 4 M’s of brand awareness to stand out from competitors

Distinguishing your brand in a crowded software space requires adopting the right approach. These four M’s — market, message, medium and measure — provide a robust framework to build an effective brand awareness strategy.

These components help you craft an integrated plan that resonates with your specific audience, amplifies your brand reach and positions you as the go-to solution in your niche. With consistency and precision, you can elevate your software brand into a recognized and trusted name.

 

Use free profile listings on Gartner Digital Markets’ network of software comparison sites to connect with niche target buyers seeking solutions just like yours.

Amita Jain

Amita Jain covers B2B content creation and strategy to help businesses reach their marketing goals. She received her master’s degree from King’s College London, U.K. Exploring the world of art and reading fiction are some of her usual happy distractions outside of work. Connect with Amita on LinkedIn.

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