Lessons Learned in 33 Years in the Software Industry

Seth Godin Marketing Software Upside Down

Seth Godin on Making Software

Seth Godin spoke at Business of Software Conference USA last year to share some of the many lessons that he has learned in his 33 years in the software industry.

You can watch the talk or read a transcript here.

This year, the Business of Software Conference USA is in Boston, Oct 1-3 at the Seaport Hotel. BPMA is partnering with the conference to offer BPMA members a 20% discount on registration. We invite all of our members to join us at this event, which attracts leaders from some of the best run and best-known software companies from around the world. Use code ‘BPMA’ to register.

Smart, articulate and immensely quotable, we share some of the points Seth Godin raised in this talk.  These are worth remembering when you build products.

“Having a broken piece of software makes me feel dumb and impotent. I don’t want that.”

“Make a small promise and wildly over deliver like Google.  Focus on narrow goals and achieve great results instead.”

“Little things that make the user feel smart really matter in gaining trust.”

On customer research

“Don’t rear-view things, like the reasons a customer told you they didn’t buy your product or service.  They usually aren’t truthful regarding why they didn’t buy.”

On the business of software

“Just because it’s good software doesn’t mean it’s a good business. There must be a good way to market the business.”

On the difference between B2C and B2B

“A main difference between B2B and B2C, is that the B2B customer is spending someone else’s money.”

“Trust is more important than value in the buying decision.  Otherwise everyone will buy the cheapest option.”

“The job is to reduce fear with the customer, not increase joy.  B2B buyers have to defend their decision to buy your software to the people who paid for it and/or the people who will use it.”

“What do you do when the Customer and User are not the same person? What do you do when the User does not want your software?”

On community adoption

“Software that works, gets adopted because people choose to use it.”

“Marketing software means you’ll need a way to spread the word in a way that increases the universe of users.  It needs a message that is worth people talking about (the purple cow). What does your software do that is remarkable?  Is it worth people talking and getting excited about it?”

On building community into your product… get people talking

“People like us do things like this. Define the this and what your software will do.”

“Start by finding the smallest group of people that will be sufficient to get it started.”

“Packaging is not obsolete.  You’ll need a way to attract people to your offering, create preference, and branding.”

“Over promising is obsolete.  Promise the one thing you can deliver upon with excellence.”

On free vs paid software

“Free and cost are not related.  Identify three reasons to make software free.”

“Earn permission.”

“Get people hooked.”

“Spread the word.”

On minimum viable product

“Consider your minimum viable audience…not necessarily your minimum viable product.”


“The difference between $3k software and $30k software is $27k worth of meetings.”

This year, the Business of Software Conference USA is in Boston, Oct 1-3 at the Seaport Hotel. BPMA is partnering with the conference to offer BPMA members a 20% discount on attendance to an event that attracts leaders from some of the best run and best-known software companies from around the world.

Mark Littlewood CEO of Business of Software

Mark Littlewood Business of Software Conference

Variously described as ‘a world leader in connecting people’ and ‘the one in the terrible shirt’. Mark runs Business of Software Conference, the legendary single-track event for people building profitable, sustainable software and SaaS businesses.

He has spent 30 years in the tech sector collecting great people and ideas and connecting them to customers. Prior to Business of Software, he was part of the founding team at Library House, an investment research business based in Cambridge UK serving the global venture capital & banking communities. He led the business development activities for the organisation & built a network of angels, early stage, venture & corporate investors.

Previously, he worked with university spin outs; ran a 40 person consultancy business; & founded a web portal for the CAD community. Mark has worked in the publishing and information sectors & attended Trinity College, Cambridge. He tweets at @marklittlewood.

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