The maturity stage of the product life cycle is often viewed as a death sentence for software and products alike, but there’s several way to breathe new life into software that is starting to get a lukewarm response from your customers. The first thing to do is make sure that your software is indeed in the maturity stage.
The most obvious sign is a disappointing stagnation or decline in sales. This is usually due to high competition. You will find that companies with similar software are all vying for the same customers. This often leads to a price war with companies lowering their subscriptions for any competitive edge they can get, making it difficult to earn high profits to combat the struggling sales. In the maturity stage, your brand awareness and market saturation are also probably high. This means that most people within your company's reach are aware of your software, so if they would be likely to purchase and use it, they already are.
Now how can software companies combat it?
Software Enhancements and Complementary Products
You can revitalize your software in the market by thinking of how to modify it in a way that makes it more appealing to your customers. This can be done by improving product quality like processing speeds, functionality, reliability, and maintenance or being innovative by implementing new features or functions into your software. Any aspect of your software that you can do better than your competitors is a big selling point to your customers.
Offering complementary software products and services is another. Recently, music streaming, TV streaming, and eBook apps are beginning to join forces so that their customers can come to them for one-stop-shop convenience. This ease of having these services bundled together and under one payment is a great attraction for customers.
Also think about mergers and acquisitions. Mergers and acquisitions can help two companies that are struggling to stay on top of their respective industries take out a larger chunk of their market share by working together. These alliances can also occur when one company has resources or innovation capabilities that another company needs to grow. These companies will often ‘complete’ each other in a sense, masking each others’ weaknesses. The benefits of joining together are mutually beneficial.
Widen Your Customer Base
Most companies have an idea of who their main target customers are so well that they could describe groupings of them as if they were one person defined by similar traits, goals, challenges in using their software. Observing these trends are essential to knowing how to advertise to your customers in a way that connects and draws them to your software. However, over time, more and more of these groups of customers will develop for a particular company, and some may be ignored simply because businesses don’t take notice of them. If a business doesn't take notice of this hidden group of customers, how can they market their software to reach as many of them as possible?
Buyer personas are a great tool to use to find these types of customers because it helps you observe these patterns in your customers with more clarity, making it easier to bring the customers you may be overlooking into the forefront. This new pool of customers may have great potential to revitalize your software in the market and you may even lure these customers away from you competitors.
Streamline & Plan Better
Look at ways to cut costs. The most obvious thought is to lower prices, but the move is only putting a temporary cover over a problem that exists. Streamlining operations so that you’re retaining more of your profit can help with funding innovation and new features for your software in the future. Also look for investors. You’ve gotten your software to the maturity stage, which shows you can create and market something that many people will use, now show investors how you plan to innovate in the future.
Also, develop a solid cost management team. Don’t let a single penny go unwatched. Manage your company with an end goal in mind, like going public. Plot out what it would take to get there. Defining a project from start to finish with as much detail as possible has been proven to be a big money saver for tech companies. It catches many problems early, and it's much better to catch them in estimation than in actual project development. Also be sure to work on a cost estimate for each stage of a project. Develop a cost estimate from the beginning pitch. Update your estimate while working on it and seeing where changes to the estimates need to made. People often focus on the immediate future when planning, but in order for your company to succeed to the best of its ability, long term strategic planning is necessary to avoid using labor and resources in excess, leading to lost money.
It’s important to realize the maturity stage isn’t always the end for a impressive software band. Through these avenues of growing you customer base, streamlining, planning, and innovation--it can often just be a new beginning.