What’s the Secret to Successful Product Naming?

How Personification Led to a Market Winner

That’s a catchy product name, I thought. I was running a software house which was building and selling software to CPAs. Sales growth was slowing so we decided it was time to move to other vertical markets. After all, the thinking went, we are selling accounting software.

We Had Lots to Learn

Accounting is accounting no matter what the industry. We thought we needed to change our messaging, change the names of the reports, and write a new brochure. Then we would instantly have a new market.

We did all that and moved one of our best sales reps to our new apartment leasing vertical. He called a few prospects, and within a matter of a week, we knew we had a lot to learn.

3W’s and an H

In any vertical market or any market for that matter, there is a secret sauce, a culture on how the market works.

  • What they buy.
  • Why they buy.
  • Who they buy from.
  • How they buy.

One thing we learned within the first few months of hammering this market was their need for an apartment leasing and admin system. This was a bigger pain point than financial software.

If we could sell them leasing software, we came to believe it would carry the financial software sale, too.

We began writing a product with the help of an apartment leasing company. We told them if they would help us build the product, they could have it free, and we’d support it.

Discovering Little Buddy

In the midst of this project, someone alerted me to an existing product in the market called Little Buddy. It was created by a residential multi-property owner in Atlanta. The owner was a real estate entrepreneur with a great reputation.

Being a forward-thinking, he hired people to write this product for his properties with the thought of reselling it to other apartment real estate owners.

I wondered if he would be willing to sell it to us. I figured being the smart entrepreneur he was, he may have come to the conclusion he’s in the real estate business and not the software business.

We Bought Little Buddy

This, in fact, was the case. He realized building, selling, installing, and supporting software would slow his real estate growth as it would be a distraction. I contacted him, and within a few short months, he sold me Little Buddy and his development team for this product.

We loved the name, and so did the market. We had Little Buddy cartoons everywhere. Our marketing materials were red, white, and blue with the red Little Buddy dancing everywhere.

Everybody Loved Little Buddy

Everybody wanted to buy and install Little Buddy. It hit a nerve in the market. In all our history, we’d never had a product with name personification.

All our other software products went by names like Practice Management, Financial Reporting System, Accounts Receivable, and Audit Assistant. Not fun. Little Buddy was fun.

The leasing agents all knew Little Buddy. He was so cute and fun to work with. They would tell their friends who were leasing agents, and we would get calls from all over wanting to know more about Little Buddy.

Is Personification for You?

Recently I had two CEOs from my investment portfolio companies ask me about naming a product. This is what brought up the memory of Little Buddy. As I was thinking through current products in the market, I couldn’t find any which sounded fun, light, and cuddly.

We are all selling to people. Depending on who they are and the culture of the market you are selling to, maybe you should think about personification. Little Buddy would have bombed in the staid and conservative CPA market, but it blew up in the apartment leasing space.

Do you have a Little Buddy in your future?