Marketing and Resources
by Sharon Housley, NotePage,
Marketing is about creativity. Outside of posting shareware
on download sites there are numerous promotional opportunities
available to independent software developers. The first
thing that Ill mention is developers need to take
full advantage of their existing resources. Marketing
or advertising should not be considered an expense.
If done effectively, sales should exceed any time or
advertising investment undertaken. Recently Dave Collins
from Shareware Promotions created a graph to represent
the increase in traffic that a customer of his had experienced
while using Daves services. A picture is worth
a thousand words and it can be very effective in attracting
new customers. Is your application one that will save
time, help students learn faster, increases office productivity?
Can that information be represented in a graph? Do you
have real life testimonials, or information about how
existing customers are using your software to deal with
every day business? White papers and customer testimonials
can often be instrumental in attracting new customers.
Software developers need not look far to find inexpensive
or free external resources for promoting their software.
Buyers Guides are excellent, yet underused promotional
vehicles. A number of different industries produce annual
or semi-annual Buyer Guides to assist their readers
in finding products that may interest them. Typically
these guides offer a generic free listing or upgraded
listings for a fee. Buyer Guides tend to have a long
shelf life and can generate long term traffic.
User Groups are another excellent promotional source.
Most User Groups conduct SIGs or Special Interest Groups.
These groups usually meet monthly and address a different
topic each month. Frequently they will distribute software
promotional material in exchange for a door prize or
group discount. Discounts are a great way to target
specific markets. Consider providing volume discounts
or discounts to specific sectors. I have found that
the non-profit community is particularly sensitive to
discounts and will often recommend, or promote software
to others in the non-profit sector if you provide some
sort of discount.
Another great way to increase sales is to consider
partnering with other software developers that offer
similar or complimentary programs. The co-promotion
can be as simple as reciprocal newsletter promotion
or as complex as integration or software bundles. The
promotion should be designed to benefit both authors.
Additional items that are more commonly discussed that
can be used to inexpensively market software are affiliate
programs, link exchanges and newsgroups. Recently I
have encountered resources that assist with monitoring
these items. Name Protect monitors domain names and
trademarks. Reports are generated monthly and show the
number of site links, and the availability of similar
domain names. Tracer Lock allows Deja News to be monitored
for specific keywords. Email notifications are sent
daily if indicated keywords occur in Deja archived posts.
Bravenet is another free resource that has been very
effective in generating referral traffic. A refer a
friend script can be added to websites and Bravenet
monitors the number of customers utilizing the script
during given time frame.
Overall there are a number of creative ways available
to software authors to promote their wares outside of
the traditional download channel, dont be afraid
to experiment and consider other approaches, you might
Npsoft buyers guide listings http://www.npsoft.org/buyersguides.html
Shareware Promotions Graph http://www.sharewarepromotions.com/case-studies.html
Tracer Lock http://www.peacefire.org/tracerlock/
White Paper Sample http://www.notepage.net/whitepapers.htm
Name Protect - http://www.nameprotect.com/freemon.html
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