Archive for the 'Marketing' Category

Sales lessons for techies

Thursday, October 27th, 2005

Forbes has an article titled Sales Lessons for Tongue-Tied Techies that looks at where highly technical entrepreneurs need to focus their attention when they must sell their product.

The following quote from the article will probably hit home for many of us:

Rather than get an iteration of the software up and running, Banerjee and his team of Ph.D. students kept adding more bells and whistles every time a potential customer so much as mused about them. “We love solving problems, and these were cool problems to solve,” he says. “I couldn’t say no.” All that extra tweaking delayed the project by six months and upped the development costs by 50%.

Banerjee’s lesson: “Build spaceship one before spaceship two.”

The billion person Internet

Tuesday, October 25th, 2005

According to several estimates, about 1 billion people now use the Internet. You job is to interest 0.00001 of them in your Micro-ISV’s product. 1 Billion exactly? Of course not, but if you look at the stats at and at, about a billion people, give or take a New Zealand, is a good ballpark number.

That’s a very, very big ballpark, or more precisely, global digital market one click away from your purchase button.

Your challenge as a micro-ISV is to find say 0.00001 of those users (10,000) and find a problem that they 1) have, 2) don’t want to have and most importantly, 3) will pay money not to have. Then do that a few dozen times. Narrow is good. Narrow is relevant.

When I first started selling my first Micro-ISV application, MasterList Professional, I made the mistake of trying to reach too many people. Now, I’m finding ways to make MLP relevant to very specific, very narrow little tiny markets. It’s too soon to tell what results I’ll have, but as the saying goes, a 0.00001 here, a 0.00001 there, and soon you’re talking real money!

Testing Google

Monday, September 26th, 2005

One of Robert Cringely’s readers set up an experiment to test the effect of changing the amount he bid on Google AdWords to drive business to his website. He set up the experiment to run parallel to his main website, and that was a very good decision. While certainly not scientific, the results of his test were pretty interesting and something to be on the lookout for as you are monitoring your own AdWords bids and the conversion of clicks.

via Stylegala

Top 3 Mistakes when marketing software

Friday, September 23rd, 2005

marketingsherpa has an article (free access until October 2) where the CEO of MySQL gives the 3 top mistakes made by software marketers. The items listed are good advice for all software marketers and echo a lot of the things we’ve been promoting in the microISV community such as transparency and communication.

Shareware Review: Smart FTP by SmartFTP GmbH

Friday, September 2nd, 2005

A new semi-regular feature here at microISV will be reviews of shareware products that I come across. The products reviewed will be ones that I come across ‘organically’ by way of word of mouth, word of web or personal need. Hopefully you’ll find the reviews helpful when creating your app and building your webpage. The first review follows.

FTP apps are pretty much a commodity these days and 99 percent of them are exactly the same. Normally, I use the FTP features built into Internet Explorer but this is often slow and unreliable so I went looking for a GUI FTP app that I could use. The app I found was SmartFTP. Below are my thoughts on the app, the website, and the experience.


Negative into a positive

Wednesday, August 17th, 2005

Steve, from The Furrygoat Experience, posted that he really liked TopDesk from Otaku Software but was uninstalling it because of the nag balloons that prompt for purchase. James from Otaku found the post and, within hours, offered an explanation for their choice of using help balloons instead of crippled features or time restraints and also offered Steve a free copy. By providing top notch service and communication, Steve made the purchase and became a TopDesk evangelist.

via Scoble

Code is easy, Logos - not so much

Thursday, August 4th, 2005

I came across this article about the winner of Entreprenuer magazine’s Ugliest Logo Contest and the article itself is interesting but its also a great piece of marketing for the company redesigning the ugliest logo.

By providing the redesign in this contest, LogoWorks gets advertising in a national magazine that doesn’t even seem like advertising. The author also points out the benefits of using LogoWorks’ service which will provide several concepts within 72 hours for a very affordable price ranging from $265 to $549.

Now we just need to see some microISV products getting similar attention. Who has some ideas?

Setting up shop

Wednesday, July 20th, 2005

If you are in the process of setting up your website to accept orders for your software or are interested in reading about using ShareIt for your sales, you’ll want to read Dennis Gurock’s experience of setting up shop for his SmartInspect software.

Selling SATAN

Friday, April 29th, 2005

In the 1990’s Dan Farmer was an independent developer who created SATAN which stands for System Administrator’s Tool for Analyzing Networks. Through buzz and word of mouth, SATAN became a popular tool which eventually led Farmer to form the company Elemental Inc. In an interview with Business Week Farmer says the following about the success of SATAN.

I’m a really huge believer in marketing and messaging. Part of SATAN’s reason for success was its name: System Administrator’s Tool for Analyzing Networks. That acronym propelled it to a lot of places where it wouldn’t have gotten much visibility. I think the power of names, the power of messages, the power of how people perceive things is really crucial. The technology by itself, if no one knows about it and no one uses it, is pretty useless. The best and most powerful software marketing tactic

Tuesday, April 19th, 2005

Jean tells us The best and most powerful software marketing tactic.

It appears that the Mac-centric blog,, has just come online but there are already several great posts for all software developers.

Pricing from a customer’s point of view

Sunday, April 10th, 2005

In response to the pricing and licensing changes to one of the shareware apps he was using, Zaine Ridling writes:

One-trick utilities should never cost more than $20-40 per version.

I certainly respect Zaine’s opinion as a customer but this is quite possibly the most absurd thing I’ve heard in quite a while. There is nothing more powerful than a customer being able to choose where to spend his or her money, but any business owner is free to price their product any way they choose. The market will eventually determine the fairness of the pricing model.

Zaine also states:

I support developers who want to make a living from their work, but there are very few one-trick-utility apps that one could do that with…

I’m sorry Zaine, but I think you’re just trying to justify your point of view and that you don’t really care if the developer can support themselves from their work. This is also a very uninformed statement to make, as can be seen by simply reading the microISV Profiles.

And finally…

Most often developers build a variety of supporting, or different apps to make money rather than overcharge for their only app.

Ignoring the fact that you make a sweeping generalization that is not true, you propose a business model that is simply not maintainable by most shareware companies. Doing what you suggest would be doing even more of an injustice to the customer because the developer will not be able to provide adequate support due to time constraints, all the while making even less money because you want things so cheap.

Last year Six Apart showed us that communication is the key to deal with problems and to turn a negative into a positive. The best thing to do is to get the message you want out there immediately to set the tone from the very beginning. If you’re wrong, your customers will let you know and you can adjust accordingly. Most customers will respect that you’re willing to listen and adapt as necessary.

by way of Jason Calacanis

Demo tips

Monday, April 4th, 2005

Robert Scoble points to tips from David Hornik, a venture capitalist who attended the recent DEMO conference, about the do’s and dont’s of presenting at DEMO. The participants who are invited to demo their software are given 6 minutes to present to a room filled with venture capitalists and journalists. Even if you never aspire to present to an auditorium filled with people with lots of money who are looking for places to spend it, Robert points out that David’s tips are good for getting your software noticed by early adopters who could give your software an early boost.

Choosing a name

Wednesday, March 9th, 2005

For a lot of developers, coming up with a name for your software or your business quickly becomes an exercise in frustration. An article on StartupJournal takes a look at the name game that many businesses go through when trying to create a new brand. Their take on it is ultimately,

A little less attention to branding — and a little more to the beef underneath the brand — makes all the difference.

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.

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
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