Software Marketing Resource Articles: Software Marketing

You wrote the code, now how do you sell it?

Thursday, January 1, 2004

Software Marketing

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 I’ll 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 Dave’s 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, don’t be afraid to experiment and consider other approaches, you might be surprised.


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