Software Marketing Resource Articles: September 2004

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

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Changes at SWREG How Will it Affect the Industry?

Cyrus Maaghul the former owner of Digibuy, one of the first registration services purchased by Digital River, raised some eyebrows by announcing that he is the new CEO of SWREG. I interviewed Cyrus to find out more.

Approximately five years ago, Cyrus Maaghul sold Digibuy to Digital River. After the sale, Cyrus returned to school attending George Washington University, where he obtained an advanced degree in International Securities Studies. The background in foreign policy and foreign affairs enabled Cyrus to work in the international arena, spending 4 months in Iraq working with the Coalition Provisional Authority as an advisor to those investigating the corruption in the Oil Ministry and Oil for Food Program.

The additional college course work in cyberterrorism, and the impact on national security policies eventually led Cyrus back to the software industry. Three month's ago, while working with a venture capital fund researching the shareware market, Cyrus crossed paths with an old industry friend and former rival, Steve Lee from SWREG. Unbeknown to most, prior to the Digital River purchase of Digibuy, SWREG leased the Digibuy technology for their use.

Having a history and knowing the industry, Cyrus could appreciate the hidden value in SWREG, and was confident he could take the company to the next level. Steve Lee while still an integral part of SWREG, welcomed the thought of free time that would allow him to pursue other interests.

In talking with Cyrus, he laid out ambitious plans, including setting up a US sales operation for SWREG. He expects the sales office to be operational in Denver, Colorado within three months.

Some of the more innovative ambitions he alluded to, got me thinking that perhaps my predictions back in January may have been right on target, it appears this will be a defining year for registration services after all. With Digital River's recent purchase of ShareIt/Element 5, and management changes underway at SWREG, it is apparent that significant changes are in the works.

Cyrus believes that developers are looking for a new type of relationship with their ecommerce providers. Companies that just provide payment processing will go away, and they won't be as valuable as they are today. It is my belief while this might be true for the western world, it is not the case for the east. The developers from less-developed regions cannot simply obtain a merchant account for credit card processing, but perhaps it is in these regions where the most opportunities exists. It was apparent in my recent trip to Russia, that developers from those regions would welcome assistance in bridging the east and the west, and none of the registration services have found an effective way to do this outside of providing multi-currency and traditional registration offerings.

While Cyrus is aware of SWREG's weaknesses in infrastructure and affiliate programs, he is working to partner with others that can provide value in those areas.

While developers are becoming leary of industry consolidations and the sales of registration services, there is likely to be additional consolidations, or at the very least strategic relationships formed in order for the smaller services to compete against the consortium of DR properties. It is Cyrus' belief that in order to trump the leader structural changes will need to occur.

Watch the SWREG website for changes in the coming months, the site will have a new look, better documentation, and SWREG will be releasing a series of press releases announcing many of their new initiatives.
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Grand Rapids Schmooze Overview

I got to the Governor's Suite at the Grand Rapids Airport Hilton at 3pm on Thursday with food and drinks. I ran into the ASP Treasurer, Fred Clabuesch, in the hall way on my way to pick up place settings for the early arrivals. At 4 pm I met Matt Dyer of the Game Designers Group. Jay Semerad, from the South Michigan chapter of the International Game Developers Association was next to arrive. Slowly as the day went on, the folks who drove in from Wisconsin and Indiana, arrived and we all went out to the Grand Rapids Brewing Company and met yet another unknown schmoozer. On our way back to the hotel suite, we met Gregg Seelhoff waiting for us. We had discussed when the Game Designers Group would arrive on Friday.

Friday was the big schmooze day and the remaining out of town schmoozers had arrived. Abe Merchant and Scott Anderson of Curiosoft had arrived and there was a big Pow wow of game developers at the table. Jay Semerad and Phil Poccia, IDGA representative, Abe Merchant and Scott Anderson, and Gregg Seelhoff talked to the young folks of the Game Designers Group, about the game industry. I had bought two big round sandwiches for lunch for everyone along with condiments. For dinner Friday, a group of 12 of us went to Japanese restaurant with the chef cooking the food in front of us. It was a first experience for many of us. Very cool experience.

Saturday was the traveling day to the local attractions. There are some interesting pictures included in the two following links.

It has been decided that at the next schmooze, those of us who have not had Blue Moon ice cream, MUST have some!! This is a flavor that's, apparently, only in Michigan. Should be another interesting experience.

The whole weekend was good. There will be a Grand Rapids Schmooze next year, so if you can make it to this beautiful part of the midwest, join in the schmooze!!

About the Author: Sheila Manning is ASP Events Coordinator and Volunteer Coordinator; she works with her husband, Mark on Grand River Software LLC; and homeschools her two daughters.

Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Relationship Networking

What is Relationship Networking?

Relationship networking is simply the art of meeting people and benefiting from those relationships. Often the benefit of these relationship is to obtain information and leads to further grow your business. Any successful relationship, whether a personal or a business relationship, is unique to every pair of individuals, and it evolves over time. Effective relationship networking is all about building those relationships and maintaining long lasting connections with other professionals.

The Internet is an excellent vehicle for networking. Relationships can develop in newsgroups, forums, and via email. Though nothing really beats good old-fashioned face-to-face networking to start the process of building a relationship and trust, which is why conferences like ISDEF and SIC are so important.

Not all contacts will be useful or worth pursuing. There will be leads that don't provide much information. Use your judgment on whether the information and relationship is worth spending more time on.

Relationship networking opens new doors, often it's "who you know, not necessarily what you know".

How to Build Network Relationships:
1. Provide genuine assistance to others.
2. Be open-minded.
3. Remember personal details.
4. Respect cultural differences.
5. Research people and companies. Know their goals and interests.
6. Reciprocate.
7. Introductions.

Where to Network:
So many people wear multiple hats; everyone and anyone could possibly be a networking opportunity. However, just like targeted search engine traffic, the more targeted the networking the higher the chance of success. 'Targeted' networking offers the most potential.

1. Trade associations or industry specific organization.
2. Trade shows.
3. Friends.
4. Schools.
5. Focused newsgroups and topic specific forums.
6. Customers.
7. Suppliers.
8. User groups.

Constantly refine and grow your network of relationships, as they are valuable and need cultivating. If you are perceived as someone who is only trying to get something your network will likely not increase. Networking is about building relationships and mutual interaction benefiting both parties. Share information and help others grow their businesses.

In many ways relationship networking and partnering overlap, and on some occasion's relationship networking will lead to synergistic partnering.

Partnering is an attractive flexible way for software companies to develop new markets and additional revenue. Working together, partners can combine strengths in critical areas. Often a larger well-known vendor provides small vendors with credibility, while the smaller vendor contributes specific industry knowledge unknown to the larger vendor. Synergistic relationships come in all shapes and sizes, but the best relationships and partnerships are the ones that benefit everyone. Partnering is a good way of tapping into related customer bases. Often the partners complement each other in such a way that they can provide a combined solution that neither partner could deliver alone.

In order for a relationship to work you must have a clear understanding of both your companies and product(s) strengths and weaknesses. By being aware of any deficiencies, you will find partners with strengths in the areas of your weaknesses.

1. Know what you have to offer.
2. Know what you are looking for.
3. Don't waste yours and your potential partner's time.

Different relationships/partnering that works for software developers:
1. Product bundling.
2. Newsletter exchanges.
3. Integrations.
4. Link exchanges.
5. Technology or knowledge exchange.
6. Revenue share.
7. Ad exchange.

Only when each partner is successful can the partnership itself claim success. Partnerships are genuinely a win-win. Developers, who master the art of strategic partnering and relationship networking, will obtain long-term profitability and success.

Final Tips
1.) Qualify sources.
2.) Adage - you are who you hang with.
3.) Not every relationship is a good one.
4.) Evaluate potential partners.
5.) Make it personal by taking the time to say thank you.
6.) Results are not always immediate.
7.) Carry business cards everywhere you go.

Being proactive and following up, you can have a network of contacts that you will be able to access quickly when you need them. Whether by more traditional means, such as in person or over the Internet, personal networks are essential for furthering your business. Relationship networking is give and take, be sure to help others in your quest for help.
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