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THE SHAREWARE ARTICLE
The end of marketing as we know it - by Owen Ransen*
This is just a summary of Sergio Zyman's book, some comments about my personal experience, and what I think the suggestions therein can be helpful to shareware authors.
THERE IS ONLY ONE REASON TO DO MARKETING
There is only one reason to do marketing, and that is to sell more stuff to more people at a higher price more often. What other reason could there possibly be for a business to do marketing?
If you do not measure the results of your marketing then why do it? Old style marketing hides behind smoke screens and mirrors and what is supposed to be "creativity" and "you can't measure that but you need it". If I really need it I MUST be able to measure it. The fact that from now on marketing will be measured is "the end of marketing as we know it" of the title.
It is not easy to measure. It all sort of gets mixed up. I suppose it takes discipline, like "this month I will not post a single message to the graphics newsgroups", or “this month I won’t do any banner ads at all”.
HAVE A TARGET
Have a clear target about what you want to do and have a strategy for doing it. The methods you use may need to be changed (in fact they almost certainly need to be changed) but without a target and a strategy you will really not know where you are going. And you must be prepared to change your strategy. In other words test and revise.
I think he means a sales target. It is an interesting exercise to stop developing for a month say and concentrate on selling. Ideas really seem to flow in if you forget about programming for a bit.
DEBRIEF BOTH SUCCESS AND FAILURE
It is easy to say, when you have done a certain marketing operation (bought terms on goto.com or engaged in a link swap for example) that when the sales go up it is a result of that marketing operation.
This is called a "success" and is not generally investigated. But unless you know why sales went up you cannot know that it was a result of your operation. Maybe it was chance, maybe it was something else.
If you do not investigate the successes as well as the failures you are likely to spend money on useless marketing which happened to coincide with an upturn in your sales.
IMAGE AND MARKET POSITION
Your market position is where you are in the market (irrespective of where you want to be). Your image is what you should project to actual and potential customers.
In both cases there is a choice. You can decide your market position and get there, or just leave it to drift and let the competitors decide it for you. You have a position whether you like it or not, so you'd better try to be in control.
You also have an image whether you like it or not. Again it is better to control and present the image you want than just let it drift around and let people form their own ideas.
I was really really stupid and inexperienced when I did Repligator V3. I tried to sell it as an Image Idea Generator. I was trying to position this tweedy little program as a high level graphics design tool. That it could be used as one I still have no doubt, but I did not (do not :o) ) have the muscle to persuade people that I was telling the truth. It really looked like this one bloke who has made a fun and interesting program, but that was about it. Both the image and the position were at the total mercy of the market. And I did not have a professional looking installation, how could anyone take this seriously?
The image I want to project now though is of a small but serious company which makes useful tools for beginners and amateurs who use computer graphics. There is not too much competition at the moment, but as Microsoft has added filters to its paint program, and I must think hard about how I position myself and differentiate myself with respect to MS.
Trademarks are what you use to expand your product line a bit. They say "Hey! You know me. You know the quality of my (other) products. Now have a look at this new one..." . Trademarks are the core of the company. They are the yellow Kodak box which says "quality film", they are the Disney logo which says "good honest clean fun". These trademarks build up over time. They tell you about the quality and feel of the company.
DEFINING CUSTOMER EXPECTATIONS
You should try to define customer expectations in a way your competitors cannot meet. If the customer wants what you tell him you have got, and no-one else has that thing, then they will buy from you. This may be different from deliberately designing some special feature, it may be noticing a difference between your product and theirs, and emphasizing that difference as desirable.
* Owen Ransen produces “image generators” for mouse challenged artists. He divides his time between his shareware programs and consulting for companies who use AutoCAD. You can visit his Web site at http://www.ransen.com
This article: (C) 2000 Owen Ransen - Used with permission