Software is easy. Marketing is hard.

Software is easy. Marketing is hard.

Software is easy. Marketing is hard.

It may not be the case for some but for me the idea of a great software product has come pretty easy.  There are many times a day that a developer, or a manager due tasks that appear to be mundane, and would love for improvements.  The opportunities for software ideas are all around you every day.  After you spend a few years developing software or managing software projects these opportunities become a bit more obvious.  You may see opportunities for code generation tools, ORMs, load testing technologies, deployment process improvements – there are many areas right in your industry that have ways to ease pain with a software product.  When you look past what you are up to you head in all day (development) you can then see many areas for general business improvements or areas where a niche piece of software could dominate a vertical.  There are tons of opportunities and ideas out there, I stress that that is not the hardest part of having a successful software product.  Your idea doesn’t even have to be ground breaking, it just host be better than the majority of the options out there.

 Getting your idea developed is usually not that big of an issue either.   Finding someone competent may be an issue for some, but I have never had that issue.  I myself am a more then competent developer and I have surrounded myself with those I feel could develop at the same level of quality.  Although I must warn you that one big problem that can arise with perfectly functioning software is usability and aesthetics.   If a project is being created by a few developers, none of which have the slightest idea on how to use an art program such as (Photoshop, Fireworks or the new expression suite) or an inkling of usability knowledge you should consider pulling the plug.  Unless of course, your software idea is absolutely earth shattering or it does not require users to interact with it.  Software must be fun to use, if users do not like the look of your software or don’t find it an enjoyable experience to use then you can forget about fame and fortune.  Find a designer and work on your apps feel.  It is extremely important, more important than features.

Most of the developers that I have surrounded myself with also have had good luck with making very usable software, which allows me to stress I have seen lots of great ideas, and lots of working first version which finally gets me to my point.  Having that great idea and that perfect piece of software is not all you need.  You need users, and not any type of users, users that can spread the word.

 Evangelizing your product, marketing, advertising and the sales of software is actually the most difficult part of the entire process.  

This is probably a common story for many of you software developers out there.   How often do you have a friend, or business associate, or a friend of a friend come to me and have this “great idea.”  They have this idea that they think is so great that they want to have a programmer to build the product and then they will graciously give you a cut of the action and profits.  When I was a bit younger all I did was program; I use to be very enticed by these propositions because 1) the payout could be good and 2) I actually loved programming so it was always fun.  But, it usually ended up the same.  That person had no more than that idea and the software.  They had no thoughts of a distribution channel, or how they were going to move the product.  They thought they had people they could sell it to but then they were not as interested or they just liked the concept, but didn’t really want to pay for it.  This is a tough situation, and it happens all the time.  The only way I think this arrangement can work out for the developer is to say 1) if it’s such a great idea and you’re going to make millions just pay me to write it 2) I’ll write it for free and take % of the company if you match what I am putting in as labor with dollars for marketing and sales.

Now we are getting somewhere right? Well, chances are you are still going to need more money if you want to turn this product into an enterprise.  You will need more money or a great product that spreads like a virus infecting millions of users and getting great visibility on Digg or Reddit.  Before we get into how to move a product let’s make sure you are not wasting your time on your “idea.”  The Web Ascender team has an “idea” and this is approximately our order of operation.

  • Analyze the competitive landscape

  • Create pro, con lists comparing our concept against the current competition

  • Make detailed software feature lists and prioritize them

  • Create mockups and usability concepts for our software interfaces

  • Make a few prototypes with the technologies we intend to use

  • Build our marketing website, complete with the specifications and order of iterations.  Video demos of the prototypes – allow users to sign up to get a notification when the app is in beta.

  • Send the URL to some bloggers that would be interested in the concept, start getting feedback and ideas

  • Design, Develop, Test, Design, Develop, Test, …

  • Update the website with new videos, documentation

  • Release a beta

  • Outline the list of features in the next version post them on the site.

  • Email Blast

  • Market & Advertise (????)

  • (????)

Although I do read a lot about marketing, I am no expert.  I will be reading as much as I can get a hold of over the next couple of months.  I would imagine the following would be good avenue to spend marketing bucks on a software product.

  • Great website: free demos, tutorials, community, buy online

  • PPC campaigns with Google, Yahoo, MSN

  • Find Bloggers that blog on subjects that relate to your product.  Give them free copies.

  • Write great articles that supplement your product and rely on social media sites such as: Digg,, Reddit to drive traffic and interest to your product

  • Develop online affiliate channels.   Allow people to make money by distributing your product

  • Identify your market extremely well and get a salesmen to sell your product

  • Maybe magazines and trade ads could move it

Our product will actually be 100% and open source.  We will be designing a community and model similar to SugarCRM.

Post Rating

Rating: Article Rating

Post Comment

comments powered by Disqus

Keep up to date with the latest happenings by signing up for my newsletter. This will be monthly at most, so go ahead and learn something today!

My Ventures

view all »
  • Web Ascender

    Web Ascender

    Web/Mobile design & development.
    Learn More »

  • Post Kudos

    Post Kudos

    Mobile App for client testimonials and customer reviews.
    Learn More »

  • File Ascender

    File Ascender

    Easily upload and share files from anywhere.
    Learn More »

  • DNN Spot

    DNN Spot

    High quality, easy to use, accessible and search engine friendly modules.
    Learn More »

My Books

view all »

Executive Guide to Web Design

This book is designed for business executives who want to learn about critical factors that affect your businesses website and online marketing. After reading this guide you will be comfortable working with your web design firm, marketing department and steering the direction of your company's online success.
Learn More »

What Internet Startups Need to Know

Are you interested in making the next big thing? Do you have a great idea, know your industry, and have a good way to get your product into the hands of others? This short e-book will go through the primary things to consider when evaluating and executing on your web or mobile application startup.
Learn More »

I Speak!

I do presentations to small local groups as well as Fortune 500 companies.  I have been requested to speak about:

  • Entrepreneurship experience
  • Running a small business
  • Using Social Media to improve your business
  • Personal branding
  • Internet Marketing
  • Web design and internet trends
  • Numerous programming topics

Contact Ryan Doom »