Mac Indie Marketing
I came across this wonderful presentation by Dropbox CEO Drew Houston, linked via the ever-useful twitter feed @smashingmag. (So useful, in fact, that I don't actually folow the feed — I subscribe to it in NetNewsWire, using a script I wrote that turns the embedded URLs into links for the feed itself so it's easy to open the linked pages. But I digress.)
This presentation has quite a few gems. Some particular favorites of mine:
- Search is a way to harvest demand, not create it.
- Typical Dropbox user: Hears about Dropbox from a friend, blog, etc. and tries it → "I didn't realize I needed this" → "It actually works" → Unexpectedly happy → tells friends.
- Three types of markets: existing, resegmented, new. Marketing tactics for one market fail horribly in others.
- New strategy which worked well was to encourage word of mouth and viral spreading.
It's astonishing how Dropbox was able to enter an already crowded field and come to dominate. Their word-of-mouth techniques worked rather well, of course. (It's interesting to note that Dropbox used to have a paid referral program but they no longer do. I guess they felt they no longer needed it.)
You can draw your own conclusions from how Dropbox did it to your own business.
You can skip until about the four minute mark if you don't want to hear a lot of company history, and really the main point of the talk doesn't start until 12:00.
Of course he covers a lot more than just marketing in this talk. The content that is related to marketing includes understanding Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and website analytics, giving out special information and licenses to bloggers, issuing press releases, and making yourself known in the Mac community. He also introduces a good technique to paying attention to how much money your company is making on an hourly basis (which, to me, is helpful when judging when you should consider paying somebody to handle some tasks for you, as I mentioned in my previous post.)
Overall, some good advice! I, however, will not be trying to emulate his getting up at four in the morning!
Some recent discussion on the MacSB list about what kind of system people recommend for handling technical support got me thinking that what is important for dealing with support is not what tool, but who is doing it.
One of the best things that has happened for us engineers at Karelia is when we found somebody who could handle front-line technical support for us. If you can hire somebody, part-time, to handle your support inquiries (and, as it often turns out, sales inquiries as well), and insulate you from all but the most complicated cases, it means that you can focus on the engineering that you are good at.
Taking this step is a critical early step for an indie developer to go from struggling to successful, especially when he/she discovers that once their software is released, they hardly seem to have time to do development any more! Last year at WWDC, we were chatting with Kevin Hoctor about doing this, and look at where he is now! You're welcome, Kevin.
What does this have to do with marketing? OK, maybe this is just a little bit off-topic, but really the idea here is that if there is something that you are not that strong at, and you would rather focus your time on something that you are better at, then you should find some help. And of course that means marketing as well as tech support.
This interview with John Fox of GroupSmarts, LLC is the eleventh in a series of interviews I've held with indie software developers about marketing Mac software. Previous interviews: Paul Kafasis, Gedeon Maheux, Justin Williams, Gus Mueller, Daniel Jalkut, Rich Siegel, Oliver Breidenbach, Jacob Gorban, Jean MacDonald, and Kevin Hoctor.
John Fox (@djembe on Twitter) is the creator of MemoryMiner, a cool application used to "discover the threads connecting peoples' lives across time and place." His professional background is Digital Asset Management (or DAM). At his prior company WebWare, he created a rather sophisticated web-based application used by the likes of Martha Stewart, Sony Pictures, Harvard Business School, et al. to organize, distribute and track the usage of their valuable digital media. Over a 12 month period starting in 2003, the confluence of several life-changing events (his father died, he got married, and had a child) made him want to put his skills towards more humanistic endeavors, and thus was born MemoryMiner. His goal with MemoryMiner has been to create a great tool for the recording and sharing of individual life memories which in turn could be aggregated on a massive scale. The end goal (which he admits is a huge undertaking) is to create a network of first-person accounts of modern society and culture that can be browsed by people, place and time.
This interview with Paul Kafasis of Rogue Amoeba is the tenth in a series of interviews I've held with indie software developers about marketing Mac software. Previous interviews: Gedeon Maheux, Justin Williams, Gus Mueller, Daniel Jalkut, Rich Siegel, Oliver Breidenbach, Jacob Gorban, Jean MacDonald, and Kevin Hoctor.
Rogue Amoeba makes cool applications like the home audio streamer Airfoil, Audio Hijack Pro, the Radioshift audio recording tool, and the audio editor Fission. Paul Kafasis, whose title is CEO/Lackey of Rogue Amoeba, was kind enough to talk about marketing from his perspective.
While not in front of a computer, which he admits happens too infrequently, Paul enjoys/suffers through distance running, reads voraciously, and attempts writing humor. He can be found on Twitter as @PBones.
DW: First off, can you explain what you do at Rogue Amoeba?
PK: I handle the myriad tasks that let our top-notch programmers keep programming. That's a litany of things, from marketing and PR to interviews to all sorts of boring paperwork. Probably what I enjoy most is product design and development, working with our coders and designer to determine what we'll include in a new app, or an update. This sort of process takes knowledge gained from talking to customers, reviewers, reporters, and more, and distills it down, to shape what the future will be. I find that fascinating, and rewarding.
One of the main goals when selling software is getting people to be aware of your product so they will buy it. Ideally, everybody will buy it at full price (let's call this $n) but not everybody is going to be finding your application through word of mouth, search queries, links from websites that mention it, and so forth.
There are something like 25 million Mac users out there, probably more, who could conceivably buy your application. But the fact is, a good 99.9% of them have never heard of your application and won't buy it.
So even though it would be cool to get just a few more users at $n per license, it might be worth reaching some small percentage of that 25 million people who weren't going to be paying you anything otherwise. This is why it's often useful to do discounts and sales (getting you an additional 50-90% of what you make on normal-priced sales), daily promos (an additional 20%-30%), or perhaps bundles (peanuts per license, but hopefully a few extra thousand dollars) to reach some of those otherwise unreachable people and make them paid users of your application.