For many years, libraries have been regarded as
the 'ultimate source of information and knowledge',
yet so many people use them for other purposes. They
are used as social and cultural forums, community
centres, meeting places, entertainment venues, and
even for warmth and shelter. The same may be said
of the internet - the fairly recent version of this
ultimate resource for individuals and businesses alike.
The internet is certainly used for entertainment and
social purposes, and offers much in the way of social
functions and communication. However there's so much
more to it than that, and so much more that any individual
or business, and especially software developers, can
utilise. It's there for the taking.
When it comes to opportunity, the newsgroups would
seem to be one of the more neglected areas of the
internet, especially by software developers. First
of all they're a superb source of current information
and public opinion, but that's only the beginning.
They offer the developer two opportunities - advertising
and exposure. A great forum for announcing new software,
new releases, upgrades and updates... the newsgroups
also offer you the opportunity to be seen as an expert
in your field. Not only do you get the chance to be
seen, but to be seen as an authority in the areas
of your choosing. Use this tool wisely, and its benefits
may be immeasurable. There are a few dangers though
- make sure that you follow the rules and etiquette
of each newsgroup; you don't want to be labelled as
a SPAMMER, and irritating people is no way of improving
your image. Going on from this, be careful what you
say, and how you say it. Your comments and manner
will reflect on your company and software; never forget
this. My own opinion is that it's the wise man who
sits and listens first, and only speaks when he has
something to say. When he does so for long enough,
people lean forward to hear him.
Joining a discussion list is another invaluable way
of raising your profile and establishing a reputation
as a knowledgeable source. Don't go in for blatantly
selling your product as soon as you get a chance;
the person that runs the list will not take kindly
to having their work hijacked for your own free publicity,
and neither will the readers. But it is a great way
to establish yourself as a knowledge source, and depending
on the list moderator and rules, you should be able
to get your signature at the end of every posting.
At the very least this should contain your website
URL and email address. If you're lucky you might even
get your slogan in there too. Your signature is another
frequently overlooked tool - at the end of every single
email and newsgroup posting you send, get your essential
contact details in there. Don't waste any opportunity
to be noticed. The same rules apply as to the newsgroups
- be professional and courteous at all times, and
if you don't have anything to say, don't say it!
Constantly the source of much debate as to their effectiveness,
the general consensus is that banners are a dead or
dying media. Nonsense! The banner lives - and can
also be a vital part in your software marketing strategy.
There are free and commercial options available in
abundance; but the level of success will be mainly
determined by how carefully targeted your exposure
is. For example, let's say you had an image editing
application, and decided to invest a little in some
banner exposure. Having it at the very top of CNN's
home page would increase your exposure almost as fast
as it would empty your bank account. But how many
click-throughs do you think it would get? If, however,
you were at the top of the home page of a clip-art
site, the exposure rate would be both slower and infinitely
more productive. You'd be sure to get more clicks
and visitors at a far lower price. The common mistake
is to think that having your banner up on a low-traffic
site is a waste of time; rubbish! Targeted exposure
is more effective and usually cheaper. A thousand
exposures at $25 per thousand costs the same whether
delivery takes an hour or a month.
With creativity, imagination and a little bit of boldness,
there's very little that can't be achieved. Don't
just think of what options are available - make them
happen. Setting up a software give-away, where X copies
of your software will be sent to X randomly chosen
names is sure to create interest, and bring people
to your site. People love getting things, and so many
are hard to come by, expensive and illegal! If it's
free, they want it. Make sure your site has more to
offer than just information on your software. Would
you buy a magazine that only had adverts in it? Probably
not. But when the content of the magazine is good,
people will buy it, and see the adverts. If your site
only contains info about your software, it'll probably
get a fairly-fixed number of visitors each month.
But throw in some useful information, resources, software
giveaways etc. and more will come. The Cascoly Software
site is a perfect example; as well as screensavers
and clipart, their site also contains sweepstakes,
contests wizards, online games and more - and I guarantee
that their site gets more visitors than the author
who only offers a sales pitch. Don't go for links
pages though - I can't stand them, and when's the
last time you looked through one properly? Old and
outdated - move on.
In a way the most neglected of all aspects - the internet
is one big pile of information. And lots of it can
be useful to you. Use it to see what's popular on
the software and shareware sites, where your own products
stand in the big picture, and what the competition
are up to. Chances are you're not getting around to
it - but it's useful and worthwhile. On the first
day of every month I write a report on the previous
month. Everything. Achievements, failures, wasted
opportunities, site statistics, the whole thing. If
I didn't do this I'd have already thrown away a few
opportunities that have proved to be VERY worthwhile.
Do you go through your site statistics in detail?
If not, you might be missing some invaluable information.
Referrer logs alone can be worth their weight in gold.
There's an awful lot of useful stuff out there - use
it. Never be content where you are today; be ambitious.
Think big. Expand. When you read the biography of
the Bill Gates and Richard Bransons of the world they
always speak of where they started... but they consistently
expand, take risks, think big and move. Diversify,
expand, and seek out new opportunities. Don't wait
for them to come to you. Seize the opportunities that
are out there, and start with what's under your nose.
Seize the internet. .
article provided by Shareware