Marketing Marketing Marketing

Microsoft had an initiative that rewarded new Windows 8 or Windows phone apps with a $100 bonus per app. Sounded like an easy way to earn $100. I planned to write 10 apps for a cool grand. Turned out I was burned out after nine apps. Three of them got rejected. I did get six Windows 8 apps in the Windows store.

The beauty was that the $100 bonus was in addition to any proceeds you make selling your apps. I figured I would get the bonus, then do some marketing for the apps. It took a long time to get my bonus. So I did not start the marketing early. What was the result? I sold no copies of my apps. Ouch.

Now I plan to stand up a web site that markets my apps. Just need to drive some traffic to my Windows app store entries. Just showing up and putting some apps in there does not get you sales. Microsoft manages the sales. They don’t seem to actively market the apps in there.

Publishing Your Own Books

Just read a good post about publishing your own books. Strangely enough the author highly encourages using Box Shot 3D software. That prouct seems real expensive at $199. There is a home version of Boxshot 4 that goes for $49. Apparently you should also farm out the design of the cover of your book. That can cost you a bunch more money. You should get an ISBN number for your book. It is even better if you are listed as the publisher. The best hacks described in the post revolve around creating a pricing war between Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You can effectively get Amazon to lower their price while keeping their payment to you the same. Sweet. This is certainly worth a try right?

All About the Marketing

I was driving down the street in my neighborhood the other day. There were two girls on the side of the road. They must have been selling something. They tried to get my attention and successed. One girl was waving. The other one did a kind of backflip. Seemed like some gymnastics move. Impressive. You don't see that enthusiasm often.

So these girls get an A for grabbing my attention. Where they failed was their signage. They both had signs which they made by hand. However they must have been written on 8 1/2 by 11 paper. There is no way I can read anything on such small paper when I am driving by in a car.

I actually thought about stopping, but I had no clue what they were selling. I did not want to stop if what they were selling was of no value to me. I would have wasted precious time. My recommendation? Grab a big cardboard box and write "Carwash $5" in big letters so they guy in an airplane can see what is going down.

Marketing. It is really tough. Capture your customers' attention, and communicate clearly for a win.

Advertising Gamble

I was reading some trade press rag. Spotted this weird ad from InstallAware. There was a superhero with his head falling off. This was an ad for an installation development platform. The top reason listed for buying the program was that the industry leader copied their features!

Another weird feature of the ad was that there was no information on how to get more info. There was no URL listed. No phone numbers. Nothing. I guess they figure I would Google them if I was interest. I did Google them.

I was happy that their web site was very transparent about how my costs would be computed. Factors such as using the competitors product, having previos versions of their product, and assorted options were all clearly marked.

Now this is some pricey software. Pricey as is in the cheapest version with no frills costs over $1000. If you add some bells and whistles like support, roving licenses, and consutling, the total bill might come out to $20k or so. Very gutsy advertising for such an expensive proposition.

The Value of Marketing

I was recently reading the transcript from a speech by Patrick McKenzie. It was a talk he gave at the MicroConf 2012 convention. He talks about a lot of things. But mainly he describes how he has gone on to do consulting for people who sell over the web. Previously his weekly consulting rate was $20k to $25k a week. But I think the price has gone up.

That's not the real kicker. He did so well for one customer that the CEO was talking about hiring him on full time for around $750k a year. Here is the shocker. He turned it down. LOLwut? Does he love working for himself? Maybe he wants to give all companies a chance to receive his advice. Or perhaps there is only so much he can do for any given company before the returns flatten out.

Whatever the reason, this seems odd on the surface. Wouldn't every developer love making $750k a year? I sure would. From a sheer economic perspective, Patrick has a good thing going with his consulting gigs. He appears to be making more and more money per week with that. Maybe this is not so crazy after all.

All I know is that you have to love a guy who can make money marketing a program called Bingo Card Creator.

Age Discrimination

Read a blurb on LinkedIn about the perils of age discrimination in the tech industry. Seems that companies do not want to pay a senior developer $150k if they can get a fresh college grad ofr $60k. There are multiple reasons behind this trend. The youngsters are thought of as possessing skills in the hot technologies. Plus they can be counted on to burn the midnight oil to get stuff done. Plus they cost a whole lot less, right?

What is an aging developer to do? Go into management. Gray beard in management is a benefit. Or you could try to stay current in your skills. That is tough. But you need to in order to stay competitive. You could also become a consultant. Or better yet, start up your own business. That way you are the boss. You would not discriminate against yourself, would you?

Return on Investment

Recently I needed to purchase four copies of a hardback book. Naturally I went to Amazon. The total cost was around $50. That seemed a bit pricey. I searched around and found that I could probably get the books for half that amount. You would think it would be a no brainer, right? Choose the less costly option.

But first I decided to think back on what Amazon had done for me recently. I surely had downloaded a lot of free books from them. Most of them I enjoyed immensely. Now these were electronic books. Then I also recalled that I had purchased some non-free electronic books by mistake. Amazon served me well by immediately crediting back the amounts, no questions asked.

So what was I to do? I definintely want Amazon to continue providing me with all this value. And though I did not actually owe them any money from all their goodwill, I did feel obligated to return the many favors they have done me. That's how business is done. Treat me right all the time, and I will give you my business, even if you are not the cheapest option in town.

17 Year Old Sells Company to Yahoo for $30M

Nick D'Aloisio just sold his company Summly to Yahoo for an alleged $30M. Nick is 17 years old. He previously had made the Trimit app when he was only 15. That grew into the Summly app. The app shortens long stories for smartphone users. The app will be shut down and integrated into the Yahoo platform.

Now Nick is no ordinary 17 year old. He started programming when he was 12. His dad works for Morgan Stanley, and his mom is a lawyer. His company Summly has a number of high profile investors such as Ashton Kutcher. Nick is the majority owner of the company. As such, he will be keeping most of the $30M proceeds.

Many are wondering why Yahoo paid such a high price for an app they are shutting down. Summly only had 5 employees. It seems that only 2 of them are making the move to Yahoo. One thing is certain. Yahoo will be getting a lot of press out of this acquisition.

The End of Google Reader

Google has announced that it is shutting down Google Reader. People are coming out complaining that they still use this tool. I find that I only occasionally use the product myself. I just manually visit the most important blogs I follow.

From a business perspective, this might make sense. Google Reader is probably not making Google much if any money. However Google must loose some good will when they shut the thing down. I bet there are many people who use it for their RSS viewing needs.

The only bright part of this shutdown is that people are rising up to create a Google Reader replacement. Just today I saw a post stating that Digg is on the mission of building a replacement. This might help Digg in other ways if they build some extra features in the product that highlight Digg.

Office On Demand

I saw an advertisement from Microsoft for Office 365. Apparently students could get the software by paying $80 for four years. What? That must be a mistake. The old Office education edition used to cost eith $99 or $150. What is up? I went to a Microsoft site. After first I was pissed off because the site kept redirecting me to some spiel from Microsoft on signing schols up for Office 365.

I almost gave up. But I wanted to know about this $80 for four years deal. Sure enough, after clicking around, I found the page for Office 365 University. You do indeed pay $80 for a four year subscription. This allows you to get the latest version of MS Office. Currently that would be MS OFfice 2013 for PCs.

This is not a stripped down vesion of Office either, You get Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access. This is the whole kitchen of Office products. Normally this would cost you $100 per year for a subscription. Instead students get it for $80 over four years. That's not $80 per year. That is $80 total for the whole four years.

I guess Microsoft is really pushing hard for this software subscription service. Feels like a great deal compared to the shrink wrapped versions of Office. I am going to have to give this a try.

Users Must Pay

I am taking a course in XML Development. We are getting to the point where we need to validate our documents. To do that, you run your code through an XML processor. It turns out that this is an external piece of software you have to acquire. Our instructor told us to use the industry standard software. He told us to download the free version.

It turns out there is no free version. There used to be a home use version that was free. However all traces of it seem to have disappeared. Now the company only allows you to download a free 30 day trial. After that, you have to pay big bucks to use their software.

This is great when you work for a big company. You just purchase a license. However that does not work for a starving college student. What is a hacker to do? Well you could go with a free or low cost alternative. In this case, the competition has weaker products. When only the best will do, you got to pay up to steal.

From an end user perspective, this sucks. My trial ends well before I can do my work for class. Should the company offer a student edition for a reduced price? Well I guess that depends. If I do get a low cost copy, will I be happy and talk my future employer into buying the expensive software? The other angle is whether I will somehow pony up the big bucks even though I am a student. That one is easy. Hell no.

The company has already done the hard job of producing the best software for this particular niche. Everyone wants to use their software. Now they have locked a high price tag on it. Let's see if the company makes out like a bandit, or suffers the consequences of the lock down.

Dome Fail

Was watching the SuperBowl to watch the commercials. There were few really hot commercials. A kid is going to prom. He looks depressed. Then his dad gives him the keys to the Audi. The boy is happy. He pulls into school and parked in the principal's parking spot. He makes out with the prom queen. He gets a black eye for the effrot. But he is happy.

Next I saw an ad that made me check of the link. It was some Stephen King thing. Not sure if it is a book or a movie ot TV show. Went to the web site. Had to enter my city and zip. Then I clicked submit. The thing hung for three minutes. What a waste. King probably spent a couple million on the SuperBowl ad. Could not convert because the darn web site was frozen.

Sales Funnel

I was reading a blog post. Found a picture near the bottom and thought it was part of the post. No. It was an advertisement. The girl with the big jugs caught my eye. I clicked through.

I saw a promotion for T-shirts. Nothing new. A girl with a big chest filling out a shirt has been used before. At first I thought the promotion was a buy three, get three shirts free one. Nope. Upon closer inspection, it was buy three, get six free.

Now I am one for a good deal. This was starting to sound like a good deal. I read the fine print. The only catch was that any upcharges would be applied to all the free shirts as well. Fair enough. Then I started trying to pick some shirts. The site was slow. Every options I chose took a while. Not good if I plan to buy 9 shirts.

I wanted a larger size. Upcharge. I wanted a color other than white. Upcharge. The deal was getting less and less attractive as I went along. The price was rising. And it was going to take forever to wait for the site to respond to all the options I needed to make. Sale lost. Too bad.

The Proposition

I found quite the interesting offer over on Hacker News. Dude put out a call for developers with ideas. He would put up $5k to pay for the developer to code up their idea. When done, dude would spend an additional $3k to promote the product. In the end, dude and developer would split the proceeds 50-50.

There was some comment backlash that 50% sounded a bit steep for $8k. However this was for ideas that were sitting around unfinished. Also the dude was offering expertise in marketing, and putting up all the cash. I actually kind of liked the idea.

The only caveat is that he dude required that he approve the initial idea. It has to be good enough for him to invest the $9k. That sounds fair enough to me. I wonder if he would back my latest game idea. I could probably code up an MVP in a month or two. There is only one way to find out.

The Goal of Free

I found this site that provides a daily list of free Kindle books. These aren't some lemons that nobody wants. They seem like good books. The reviews show 4 or 5 stars (out of 5) for most of them. I wondered why the authors were allowing the books to be distributed for free.

I have been reading a bunch of these books recently. And I am getting some ideas on wht is going on. Sometimes the free book is the first one in a series of books. I suspect the authoer is trying to get me hooked so I buy the rest of the series. Other authors are brand new. I bet they are just trying to prove how good an author they are. Then I might purchase some of their other titles.

Another technique might be getting buzz about a book. If you can get enough downloads, driven by a free price, your book could rise up in popularity. Then the price could be changed from free, allowing the author to profit.

Perhaps there might be some authors who just want to give their works away. Does not make much business sense. But hey. Not everything needs to be done to turn a buck I guess.