Archive for February, 2005

“Software is the easiest industry to get into”

Monday, February 28th, 2005

If you’ve spent any time on the networking side of the tech industry, you’ve probably heard of Newton’s Telecom Dictionary. The man responsible for the dictionary is Harry Newton who is now in search of the perfect investment. Take a look at the second item of today’s column where he says “Software is the easiest industry to get into, but the hardest to succeed in. ”

Harry presents three different types of software companies and comments on each from an investors point of view. Harry is definitely talking about dollar figures that are well above what a lot microISV software companies are even shooting for (even though it would be nice) but its always interesting to read about what people who have money to invest are looking for.

How to own your niche

Friday, February 25th, 2005

Jennifer Rice points out that you can’t truly own your niche but you can own the way you are perceived within that niche. In her article, she uses the computer PC industry as an example to show how Dell, Gateway, and Apple all sell in competitive markets but use their brand to differentiate themselves. By owning how they are perceived, each of these companies have set themselves up for future growth and expansion into new markets.

Jonathan D. Nolen REALLY wants transparency

Thursday, February 24th, 2005

Johnathan D. Nolen has come up with The Open Test for evaluating software companies. Now when he says open, he means open.

Recent Finds

Thursday, February 24th, 2005

A few more microISVs are starting to blog about their experiences. I’ve recently come across the Stuffed Guys, Tom Ballachino, and while Jason Kottke isn’t becoming a one man software company, but you have to give him kudos for quitting his job to become a full time blogger.

How does your EULA suck?

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2005

Donna Wentworth has commented on several excerpts from a few end user license agreements that she thinks are no good. As software developers and customers, what do you think is the right balance?

Catch them where, and when, they’re looking

Thursday, February 17th, 2005

Several people posted comments on yesterday’s post asking about what benefit the statistics actually provide. I can only speak for myself so that’s what I’ll do. :-)

My goal as a marketer of software is to get my advertising in front of as many people who are interested in my product at the moment when they would be most inclined purchase my product or at least download the product if they aren’t going to purchase immediately. In short, I feel that the information posted yesterday gives me, at the very least, a benchmark for which times to target in order to reach my goals.

One commenter said that the information was obvious and that we all know that downloads are lower on the weekend. Yes we do, but I’ve been selling shareware for several years and I wasn’t 100% sure that most purchases were made on Tuesday. My sample size isn’t quite equal to that of Thomas Warfield or Nick Bradbury. Why is it beneficial to know that Tuesday is when most purchases are made? Because now I can offer an incentive to purchase on Thursday or Friday and possibly increase my overall conversion ratio.

Since my business is best served by making more money, my time is best spent with ways that will increase my overall profit. Two of the primary ways to do this are to increase sales and decrease expenses. In talking with many shareware developers, I’ve found that most use Google AdWords as a primary method of marketing their product. Now that Google is opening up the AdWords API, my guess is that we’re going to see dozens if not hundreds of apps that will handle scheduling of ads. By scheduling ads to appear at times when people are more likely to download my software, I have a better chance of both increasing sales and quite possibly, decreasing expenses. My other option is to use the API to increase the bids on my AdWords so that they appear first in the list during non-peak times which has the potential to increase sales during times that are traditionally slow. The statistics posted yesterday give me the information on where to start with minimal trial and error and, in turn, less wasted money.

The one question I asked eSellerate that they weren’t able to answer was “What is the average number of days that pass between the time the software is downloaded and the time its purchased?” Because downloads are highest on Wednesday and purchases are highest on Tuesday, then a guess can be made that most people purchase the software 6 days after they download. If this is in fact the case, I’d like to find ways to incent people to purchase the software more quickly. These statistics gave me this information which I may not have known otherwise.

Ways to use the stats:

  1. Target ads for peak times
  2. Make ads more visible during non-peak times
  3. Offer incentives to purchase on non-peak days
  4. Decrease the time between download and purchase
  5. Focus my marketing efforts with less trial and error
  6. Focus my marketing to spend less money to make more sales
  7. Print out the pdf and burn it to keep warm for a few seconds

Everyone who sells software should have this information

Wednesday, February 16th, 2005

When starting a microISV, many people do marketing the old fashioned way. Trial and error. With that in mind, I thought that many of you would be interested in knowing some statistics on things like “which day is best for downloads” or “on what day are most shareware purchases made”. Hint… its not the same day.

Well now you can know! eSellerate, a leading software commerce provider, has graciously supplied microISV with data gathered over the last six months of 2004. I have compiled this information into charts that I think will be very useful when tailoring marketing campaigns for your software.

The following charts are provided in the pdf:

  1. microISV poll - Who is your target market?
  2. microISV poll - What type of trial do you offer?
  3. microISV poll - When did you last purchase a shareware application?
  4. Downloads by hour of the day
  5. Downloads by day of the week
  6. Purchases by hour of the day
  7. Purchases by day of the week

Download the pdf, Shareware Statistics from microISV, and feel free to share it with others who may be interested in these statistics. As always, I’m interested in hearing your feedback regarding information such as this so that I can keep the site updated with what is most useful.

Pitching your ideas

Monday, February 14th, 2005

I’m guessing that many of you are like me. You have more ideas than you know what to do with them. has posted an article on How to Pitch an Idea that may help you when communicating your idea to the person next to you or to the person with the power to make your idea become a reality (if you need more than just yourself).

Step 8, their last step, is Do It Yourself. While this may be the first step for many of us, the other steps can help you focus your idea to get you off on the right foot.

A world of distractions

Friday, February 11th, 2005

With advancing technology, we have created a world of almost unlimited opportunity to be distracted. The New York Times has an article that higlights several companies that are working to develop software that is less intrusive and is able to predict when someone is busy.

One of those interviewed says…

For the past eight years, Mr. Serotta has used a laptop computer. “That means I can take my ability to dodge serious work everywhere,” he said. “I really depend on small technical distractions to keep me away from the things I dread doing.”

Good thing none of us have that problem!


Behind the scenes

Friday, February 11th, 2005

Nick Bradbury gives us an inside look on how he develops TopStyle and FeedDemon.

Adam Stiles follows up Nick’s post with an inside look at the NetCaptor development process.

Business Plan Myths

Thursday, February 10th, 2005

Terri Zwierzynski outlines the Top 10 Business Plan Myths for Solo Entrepreneurs

microISV Reality reality

Thursday, February 10th, 2005

David, the founder of microISV Reality, has posted about his experiences of jumping into the game as a microISV and starting the microISV Reality website. In the post, he details an email exchange that several people, including myself, were part of where David had many great suggestions for advancing the microISV concept. The responses weren’t exactly what David expected but they helped him make a decision on where to focus his efforts. So in this case, it appears that the less than positive responses were better for him. David’s choice shows that knowing when to stop a project can sometimes be much more important than seeing it through to the end.

You aren’t risky, you just have a big ego

Wednesday, February 9th, 2005

Business Week Online interviewed Brian Wu, a Wharton doctoral student who found that an entrepreneur’s overconfidence in their ability is what leads them to start businesses, not their ability to tolerate risk.

Microsoft Small Business Center

Wednesday, February 9th, 2005

Microsoft has an online Small Business Center that has loads of articles, webcasts and services to help you with your business.

Should software come with a warranty?

Tuesday, February 8th, 2005

Back in April 2003, Carl D. Howe of Blackfriars Inc wrote that the time had come for software companies to offer warranties. His choice to compare the purchase of a $100,000 Mercedes to the purchase of $100,000 enterprise software is not really a fair comparison but I get the point he’s trying to make. The suggestions made in the article now seem dated but its an interesting idea.

What do you think, is a warranty just a formalized support agreement? Is there anything more that you could provide with a formal warranty than what you’re already doing?

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