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Doug Nebeker ("Doug")
I was talking to some friends about my website and how marketing is hard, and they asked what I sell. At that moment, I had an epiphany: what I was about to tell them would not be of interest to them at all, in any way. They would just say "okay" and never visit.
I realised right there and that I really need a product that appeals to anyone I speak to, so that they *would* want to visit my site to download, and then tell others via word-of-mouth. Time for a re-think of my future.
I see, but isn't it the idea/hope, that others have the same or similar enough itch as you and therefore you can sell to them?
Saturday, November 14, 2015
That's what I used to think. Now, I think it's better to find an actual *common* problem and solve that, rather than solve my own little problems and try to convince others that I can fix it for them, too.
Take my freeware app that shows the caps lock indicator. I made it freeware just to get visits to my site, in the hope that they'll be interested in my other paid apps while there. But my web stats tell a different story: people are downloading the freebie (probably because they have the *common* problem of no LED keys on their laptop) in *far* greater numbers than my paid apps. That's the real itch, which I've ignored. I think I need to start charging for it.
I agree with you that it is better to first identify the pain point and then design the solution - and the fact that people are downloading the freeware version suggests that there is a need for such a solution. But what the downloads do not tell you is whether they would be prepared to pay for that solution.
The prevailing wisdom is that you should canvas some of the free users and ask them whether they would be prepared to pay X for it. I'm not aware of too many case studies where this has been successfully applied. It seems to me that the only real way to test whether people would pay for it is to offer it for sale.
One thing you can be sure of is that when it becomes paid software the number of downloads will drop significantly. People love free. But even if it only brings in $10/month it is $10 that you did not have before.
And as soon as you start to charge for it download numbers will decrease drastically.
But that doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. Just try before thinking too much about it :)
Saturday, November 14, 2015
PSB136, the only epiphany you had there was getting very, very close to understanding why it's called "marketing".
Those people you knew would not be interested are not in your market. Well done for realizing that.
So the idea of marketing is to put your product and/or sales message in front of those who ARE in your market.
You say you want to develop something that everyone wants? I do not recommend this. In copywriting we say "When you're selling to everybody you're selling to nobody."
You're also approaching things a little bit backwards. This is normal and common, but for your next project you will be older and wiser...
Find the market; a hungry market willing to pay for a solution to their pain - then build that solution.
Sunday, November 15, 2015
I'll throw in to be careful of a product that everyone will want. It sounds great, but it also means computer-illiterate people will want it. And a lot of them. You can't imagine the support burden that comes from a simple app used by tons of people. So seriously consider the support burden.
Pretty sure I've read posts/books in the distant past from the likes of Joel and Eric Sink arguing the opposite - that the "everybody wants it" opportunities are way too picked over and/or dominated by big companies.
The example I recall was - don't write a Photo Sharing app, because there are a million of them. Instead, write a variant that is optimized to a narrow market - for example, Photo Sharing Apps for German Gay Marriages.
Do you have some traffic for your current site? If so, install a chat widget. I did and have less than 100 visitors per day. I ended up talking to dozens of customers.
Some of them will talk a lot. Some of them will chat for 2 minutes. Some of them are open for a phone talk. Some of them want to support/become fan of your product.
It was really an interesting and eye-opening experience.
Monday, November 23, 2015
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
TL;DR; - Start being unreasonable.
When I was starting out "entrepreneuring"I found that asking people for an idea about a problem to solve is a waste of time because most people are reasonable and nice and just get on with life. They don't "see" problems. They just accept the situation and get on with it. And that is a sensible way to live but not great for generating ideas to build a product from.
Whilst a programmer I "suffered" for a decade or more to try and come up with a problem to turn into a solution - and the reason that is hard is because all the low-hanging-fruit in the programming world has been picked and eaten. Or worse given away for free!
My break through came when I moved away from being a coder to being a project manager. Literally within days I had a list of problems I could go after.
Today I have my small ISV and am making a living from it.
So my advice would be this: Get a hobby. Get a couple of kids. Get married. Get a life. If you had some exotic parrots you'd soon be thinking "Wouldn't it be great if there was an app to help me work out their diets". And if not, you'd have some parrots which would be kinda fun.
And if you are working in an corporate IT team as a journey-man programmer try and get moved into the "business". That's the bit of the company that makes the money.
And I reckon if you left the IT trade and went to work in something unrelated for minimum wage you would have a stack of ideas within a few months.*
* Disclaimer : If you end up flipping burgers for $4 per hour its not my fault.
>And I reckon if you left the IT trade and went to work in something unrelated for minimum wage you would have a stack of ideas within a few months.
Like Robert DeNiro driving a New York cab in training for 'Taxi Driver'? We could call it 'method product development'. ;0)
>If you end up flipping burgers for $4 per hour its not my fault.
You would still be going better than the most indie iOS app developers.
Monday, November 30, 2015
My aim now is to try to solve a real problem that the majority of users would have, rather than just a set of niche users.
Every user needs a virus scanner, but that market has been done to death. But that type of need is what my epiphany is all about. I want to be able to say to someone, "I have this app and you need it now", rather than "I have this app that might interest you", which is my current pitch.
If that's your epiphany, then you have a major uphill battle.
There are *plenty* of competitors with more experience, money & resources than you (or me) also looking to solve real problems that the majority of users have and would be willing to pay for a solution.
You *will* be able to say to prospects "I have this app and you need it now" *IF* your target market is narrow, well defined has a genuine problem and can be marketed to easily and affordably.
As an example, Andy has the capacity to say exactly this but to the right audience: engaged couples (most likely the bride-to-be) with an impending wedding who are frustrated getting their seating arrangements right and hassle free.
Take a look at Eric Sink's Winning by a Barrel of Rocks article - it's still valid today.
Good luck finding 'a real problem that the majority of users would have' that doesn't have a massive amount of competition, much of it free.
Tuesday, December 01, 2015
I suspect you've taken the wrong lesson from your conversation with your friend.
I showed my wife some of my marketing material and lead magnets. She said she "didn't get it" and that it "doesn't do anything for me [her]".
That was a good response.
She's not may target market. I would been more concerned if she loved it because I would have missed the mark.
Rather than looking for a large market you can sell the kitchen sink to you want to:
1. identify a well-defined group of people
2. who have a real problem
3. that they are willing (nay, happy) to pay to have solved
4. that are reasonably plentiful in number (that *doesn't* mean everyone)
5. and homogenous enough (via their common problem) to be reached (marketed to) in a cost effective way
As AC stated, first define the hungry market that has a problem their willing to pay to have solved then look at how you could profitably solve it for them.
@PSB, why the :( ? Basically you seem to be feeling that unless you sell a program that helps **a majority of computer users** you won't succeed? But you know that is not correct. There are probably a good 2-3 billion computer users. Let's say for easiness, 1 billion. Even if you only reached one out of a million of them a year, meaning you failed to appeal enough to ***99.9999% OF USERS*** and sold them a $30 piece of software, right there you're at ~$25k/yr gross after payment processors' cut, etc.
I'm starting to get my hopes up for my next app. :)
A guy at work asked how my current apps are going, and I admitted that only 1 of out 3 sells okay, but only when I post updates to MajorGeeks (which results in about 5 sales a few days later).
He asked again which app that was, and then did the usual "ah, okay" and turned back to work. I then mentioned my new app and how it benefits the user with everyday tasks, giving him some actual working examples of how it saves time doing certain tasks, and this time turned back and actually said the magic words that I longed to hear: "Oh yeah, I get ya. That sounds useful."
I'm hoping to get it finished within the next couple of weeks for a Christmas release. :) It's about 90% done.
Oh, and one side-effect of this new app, is that even after buying it, I have a way to make them pay again (and again) for specialist help with it. That is, they'll be able to pay me to do something for them with it, if they can't or don't want to do it themselves. This can only be a good thing.
I suggest you develop your apps for an App Store. Yes, there are tons of apps in every App Store, and the App Store will take a cut of the revenues, but at least you are getting the promotional value of being in a place that a lot of people are visiting. Marketing an app is probably a bigger challenge than developing an app. Trying to do it without the benefit of an App Store is almost futile unless you have an enormous social network to promote through or you have a lot of money to pay for advertising.
Oh, and of course, make an app that other people need. And make it a good app...good UI and not buggy.
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