Author: Michael Tretyakov, SoftPressRelease.com
Publication date: May 13, 2007 | print version
The number of your prospective customers largely depends on how successfully you advertise your products. Today, there are many companies that suffer from improper and sometimes even damaging delivery of their software. Much depends on how well your brainchild is reviewed. Sometimes reviewers are pressed by the time of article publication and don’t have enough time to test and review your software to understand its full potential. This is why their opinion may sometimes be not quite complete or favorable. So, why not help reviewers, who will have to review your software for newspapers, computer magazines and internet editions?
A Reviewer’s Guide may be of great help because it delivers complete information about your software product. The Guide helps reviewers in evaluating all the merits and benefits of your product. Obviously this will lead to good press and a rush of downloads.
Reviewer’s Guide Requirements
There is no ideal Reviewer’s Guide, the one that will appeal to everyone. BUT! There are some basic principles of writing that may prevent your Guide from ending its life in the editor’s garbage bin:
- Simple formatting. The format of the Guide shouldn’t be too complex and intricate. This may confuse reviewers and make them turn their back on it. Your Guide should be a well-structured text with a few images and/or diagrams.
- Avoid advertisement. The Guide shouldn’t shout with advertising slogans and buzzwords. This is not what reviewers are after. They are looking for clear and concrete information about your program, its features and real-world examples of its use.
- Size 5-10 pages. – Brevity is the soul of wit! This is very important for a Reviewer’s Guide. Three pages could be ideal. However they may not be enough to fit all necessary information about the software. Ten pages is the limit that should not be exceeded. If the reviewer sees the Guide on 20 or 25 pages, it is most likely that it will not be read fully and the reviewer will try to define the features which are worth attention on his own. Five or eight pages could be a good compromise between insufficiency and abundance of information.
- Product features. – The Guide should cover all features of your software, and contain detailed examples of their use.
- Use of graphics. – We recommend that you use graphics in your reviewer’s guide. Choose the most informative screenshots and add them to the text. An image can often explain what hundreds of words fail. However try not to overload the text with too many images. Additionally, you can insert a link to the page where the reviewer can find necessary graphics, very often these are screenshots (in low resolution for an online review, in high resolution for a paper edition), logos of different sizes, etc.
Here we shall consider the outline of a Reviewer’s Guide.
- Introduction – In this part you should tell what purpose your product serves, provide brief information about its features, explain to the reviewer the benefits customers get on purchasing the product, and give two or three client testimonials that should refer to their own experience of using the program. Also, you may specify the target audience of this software. One page at the most.
- Getting started – In the second part you should tell about the peculiarities of the installation process (if there are any), so that the reviewer has no problems. Also, you should tell about the minimal system requirements. This part of the guide should be as small as possible. Only facts.
- Features or Points of Interest – As the title suggests, in this part you should describe all features of the product. Also, you can explain the advantages of your software over competitors. This may help reviewers to get started. This is the largest part of your Guide.
- Conclusion (not obligatory) – This part of the guide is often missed by reviewers. Simply make a conclusion based on what has been said so far. One paragraph at the most.
Also you can include such points as client testimonials, information about the company, and all necessary download links (you can provide reviewers with special reviewing conditions), links to articles about your software, information about the prices, etc.
This outline is relative, and can be modified. Some of its points can be swapped around or not used at all. Everything will depend on the peculiarities of the reviewed software.
The most important thing about Reviewer’s Guides is that they should be downloadable. The most appropriate formats for your Guide are RTF (we all have different versions of Microsoft Word) and/or PDF. Also, the guide can be published in the HTML format on your web site.
Links:These are several links to Reviewer’s Guides, which may serve as good samples: www.ActualTools.com/press/review/ www.quask.com/en/pr_reviewers_guide.asp
Most often marketing copies and technical documentation are written not by programmers, but writers, people who have been specially trained to do this well. This part is for them.
- You should talk about the product with the author of the product, programmer, or manager (who knows everything about the product). Spend as much time as possible. Let them tell you everything about the benefits of the product and show it in action.
- Test the software on your own. You should test what you shall write about. Also, use different marketing copies (case studies, reviews, testimonials) and read the Help file.
- Write a draft of the Reviewer’s Guide.
- Show this guide to the manager or author of the software. Discuss it.
- Write the second copy, taking into account all comments of the client.
- Discuss it with the client.
And continue in this way until the client decides the Reviewer’s Guide is ready.
About the author
The author of this article is Michael Tretyakov, the founder of SoftPressRelease.com, a press release distribution service. The company has been operating on the market for almost 4 years and in March 2006 was recognized as the Best Press Release Distribution Service during an independent poll at www.softwaremarketingresource.com. For more information, visit www.SoftPressRelease.com.