This interview with Gus Mueller of Flying Meat Software, is the seventh in a series of interviews I've held with indie software developers about marketing Mac software. Previous interviews: Daniel Jalkut, Rich Siegel, Oliver Breidenbach, Jacob Gorban, Jean MacDonald, and Kevin Hoctor.
Gus Mueller is the founder of Flying Meat Inc, located just north of Seattle in Everett, Washington. Flying Meat has created a couple of award-winning applications for the Mac; Acorn, a bitmap image editor (which I love to use for graphic manipulation that I don't need a real artist to do for me) and VoodooPad, a personal wiki. Gus being a self-admitted man of few words, this is one of the shorter interviews of this series!
DW: Can you tell us some of the marketing activities you do?
GM: I don't do any traditional marketing, at least on purpose. I guess I've got an account on twitter, and I have a blog that's reasonably well known, and Acorn was in MacHeist last spring. But that's really about it. I tend to rely on word of mouth sales, and getting noticed by the mac pubs.
DW: What would you say is different in how your company approaches marketing, compared to other small/indie Mac software companies out there?
GM: I actively try not to think about it. I think the best way to market your application is to make your app as good as possible, and make it better and better every release. People notice this, and they'll tell their friends, and you'll build up a name for yourself. In the end, if you succeed, this goes deeper than any traditional marketing.
DW: From your experience, which of these are the 'low hanging fruit' - in other words, that are fairly easy to do and are pretty effective, that other indies might want to try?
GM: Polish polish polish. Make your app shine.
DW: How do you measure success of your various marketing activities?
GM: I measure the success of my company by coming up with goals. And if I meet those goals, then success! If you go past that, then wooo! Baby's got a new pair of shoes!
DW: What marketing activities have you found were actually not that beneficial?
GM: I did google adwords one time. I hated it. I wasn't coding and it was really taking my mind away from programming.
DW: Your website is pretty slick, so this is obviously a marketing effort you went through to get people interested in your products. Can you tell me a bit about your home page and the main product pages, and why you made some of the decisions you made of what to include, how it's laid out, etc.?
GM: Well, I'm really not sure what decisions I made. Pretty much, I look at it and think "how can this look better?" and then I try something, and then evaluate it again. It's just an iterative process.
One thing that you didn't ask about, but which I think is super important if you take my road of product development; make it really easy for people to give you money. For instance, when Acorn 1.x owners upgraded to 2.0, there was a little button in the title bar of acorn that said "upgrade" or something. It would send you to FM's website, with your old registration number. I then looked up that number, added an Acorn 2 upgrade to the checkout basket, and pre-filled all the address + name info in the store for you. So all you had to do was give your credit card number. People really really liked this, and it reduced any friction to getting Acorn 2 purchased. Make it easy for folks not only to use your app, but to give you their money (and make it even easier for them to do, by making them want to do this because your app is something they desire/need).
DW: Great insight, thanks very much! I'll have to keep that in mind for when we are ready for Sandvox 2.0…