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Marketing, Strategy and Awesomeness

If you’re a founder of a bootstrapped or small software company, chances are you loath information products and the people who sell them.

“Like a lot of programmers, I used to view marketing and sales as something that was scummy and below me. – Quote from Marketing for Developers

Because of a few bad apples, info products tend to all get lumped together as ‘spammy’ and ‘sleazy’ (especially in the eyes of many developers and many in the Hacker News crowd).

But most info products deliver a huge amount of value to their customers and help them.  So it’s sad to see them looked down upon by the software world and ignored when their is actually a huge opportunity for partnerships between software companies and information products.

Moz + eCommerce Fuel

I recently stumbled upon eCommerce Fuel and Andre Youderian’s course “The Insider’s Guide to Building an Online Store.”  It’s a $600 online course which teaches you how to get started in eCommerce and grow your new business.

It’s a pretty standard sales page as you scroll down, but what really caught my eye was this part where it says that if you purchase the course you’ll get 3 months of SEOmoz Pro included.

Genius.

moz and ecommercefuel

I’m not sure who initiated this deal but it is a huge win-win for both sides.

Moz gets access to a group of buyers not freebie seekers – at no cost to them.  They’re able to get access to a group of people who are likely to purchase their product and are able to get it into their hands at no cost to the company.

I don’t have numbers on how many people from this group convert from the free trial to a paid membership – but even if its a small fraction it’s still worth it to Moz since they aren’t paying for this traffic. And eCommerce Fuel gets a huge bonus value add to their course which sweetens the deal for potential customers and ultimately helps convert more visitors to buyers.

What does this mean for you?

If you have a software company, you should be looking for info products that cater to an audience similar to yours – and reach out to them and offer an extended trial just for their customers.

If you have an info product, you can research software and tools that will help your customers and reach out to them to strike a deal where you can offer their product to your audience so that your product is even more valuable and converts higher.

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A few weeks after we moved into our new apartment, my girlfriend hung up about 10 empty picture frames on our wall. She then told me it was my job to find and order the pictures to put in them.

“Ok, easy enough, this is one home maintenance project I am capable of” I thought.

A month went by.. and the frames sat empty.

“I should really get to that” I thought. “I’ll do it this weekend.”

Except the weekend came and went and so did many others.

I felt guilty and a little ashamed every time I looked at those empty frames but for some reason I just couldn’t get around to the project.

Eventually I did — but not until 6 months after she had hung them on the wall.

We all do this.

From simple things like home improvements to larger things like working towards our goals.

It feels harmless to just push it off until tomorrow. Until tomorrow turns into next year.

Today you’re going to be​ face​d with​ ​tons of decisions that require action or answers, and you’ll have the choice to take action today or push it off ’till tomorrow.​

Maybe its doing the dishes or the laundry or maybe its calling on a potential customer. You’re going to reallyyyy want to put it off until tomorrow.

Don’t. Pick one thing and just do it today.

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successkidIn March of 2013 I released my first app, Photo Date, which shows you the date and time your iPhone photos were taken.  Admittedly it’s a very simple app, but after years of brainstorming ideas and never actually following through, I decided it was time to take action and just launch something.

However not long after that, in September, iOS7 was released which has the date functionality built in.. effectively making my app obsolete.

I expected downloads to drop significantly after that.. which they have, by about 50%.  So I expected revenue to drop as well – but I just had my biggest month in revenue – 3 months AFTER the release of iOS7.

2013 revenue

My iAd report for the year

Downloads over time

My download report for 2013. Downloads peaked in August at 12,000 and closed out December with around 5,000

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My Mom always likes to say that “to assume makes an ass out of you and me.” My Mom also always likes to be right.  In this post I’m going to suggest you listen to marketing consultant Jay Abraham instead of my Mother which is sure to bring me some grief.

In copywriting I’ve noticed that a lot of people don’t like to assume things about their readers.  They start out with lots of questions like “Would you like your business to double this year?” “Are you worried how the economy will effect your industry?” or “Would you like to learn to train your dog to stop peeing on the carpet?”

I fall into the habit of starting out my writing with questions all of the time.

Conventional wisdom is that the right questions qualify the right prospects, weed out the wrong ones and helps you connect with the reader.

I thought it was a pretty good route to go.

Recently though I was reading something by Jay  where he suggested to take an assumptive approach versus a question.

Most people start out with “Do you want to learn how to double your business in 1 year?”

But we forget that the people we want to respond are obviously already interested, so he recommends taking a more intimate position and saying “I know you have big goals for your business and that you aren’t satisfied where things are now.  I know you want to increase sales significantly, maybe even double in the next year…”

If you do it right it can lead to the reader feeling more understood and feeling a closer connection to you which of course leads to them being more inclined to buy.

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Learn how to launch your first app and even more marketing strategies in my brand-new book, How to Make Your First App.  Available on Kindle now!

I’m sitting here at a coffee shop and just checked the stats on my iPhone app and saw that it has crossed 50,000 downloads (update: now over 117,000 downloads).  Woot!  I know some apps get that in a day but I’m pretty excited I was able to hit that number at all.

After I had the app built and pushed it live, I wasn’t really sure what to do next. I was thinking well, I’ve got this thing now, but how do I get people to use it?

It is a little side project for me so I didn’t want to spend a ton of time on marketing and definitely didn’t want to spend much money on it.

There are 100+ things you can do for app marketing but the vast majority will be a total waste of time (app review blogs) while a few key things will bring in most of your results.

I wanted to share with you the marketing strategies I’ve used to get it to 50,000 downloads..

[click to continue…]

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A few months ago I launched my first app.  I don’t know how to program and was able to hire somebody to code it for me for a grand total of $250.

It gets about 10,000 downloads a month and generates around $75/month from ad revenue.

And I don’t expect this amount to increase much, if at all.  (Actually iOS 7 has made my app pretty much obsolete)

BUT this app will be worth tens of thousands to me over the next few years.

How?

By:

  • increasing my market value
  • giving me more leverage in salary negotiations
  • beefing up my resume and portfolio
  • helping me avoid mistakes on future software projects with larger budgets and much more at risk

If you work in interactive or tech, having an app is not only highly relevant to your career but is a huge differentiator between you and everyone else.

Even if you are in San Francisco where everybody works at a software or app company – very few people have made an app on their own.

So why is making an app worth your while even if you don’t sell it for gobs of money?

  1. Making something on the side shows you have initiative.  Every company you want to work for values this in their people.
  2. Mobile isn’t where things are headed, it’s where they already are.  Everyone knows this, so I want rattle off any stats here.
  3. It will help you develop a very desirable skill set – Not just technical skills but management skills.
  4. Anybody can make a website, it’s much more complicated to make an app – a.k.a. instant differentiation.

Let everybody else quit their jobs and rack up credit card debt trying to make a photo filter app that they can sell for $30 million.  99% will fail.

If you don’t have any app programming knowledge but want to make your first app, check out my free tutorial here.

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Eight weeks ago I got a weird calendar invite. “Team Improv 2:30-5:30pm, for the next 7 Fridays.”

What. the. hell. is. this?

It slowly dawned on me that the unthinkable had happened… I had been selected for the next round of improv classes at the agency I work at.

The first group of 15 people had gone through the class a few weeks before so I knew that the possibility was always there but it was one of those “it can’t happen to me” things like getting a DUI or selected for jury duty.

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Philip Greenspun started and sold Photo.net and retired early at age 37. This article summarizes some of his feelings about it: The below is a paraphrasing of the section that really hit home for me..

People love to complain about their day jobs or wife and kids or whatever other excuse is holding them back from getting fit, being healthy, starting a successful business and achieving financial success.

“If only I was free of this job, I’d wake up at 6am every day and hit the gym for 2 hours. Then I’d take Chinese lessons and quickly become fluent. I’d write for a few hours every day and finish that book I’ve been thinking about.”

So why haven’t they done those things or made a decent start yet?

“Because I’m stuck in this office for 40+ hours a week.”

They continually lie to themselves by thinking that if they didn’t have these hindrances that there would be nothing stopping them. Infinite success and personal enjoyment would be theirs if not for this one minor inconvenience known as their career. [click to continue…]

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I was talking to my dad on the phone last night about my idea for this post and how I had no idea how to start it.

He said I should start it with a story.

I told him I didn’t have a story.

So he told me about a time that he flew to California on a business trip.  There was this guy, Dr. Ivan Misner, who he had been keeping tabs on for years. Dr. Misner just happened to live near San Diego.

Ivan is an author and the founder of BNI, a business networking organization with hundreds of thousands of members.

He had never met the guy, or spoke with him before,  but he knew about his organization and really respected what he was doing.

So he thought to himself, just for the hell of it that he would email him.  He has absolutely nothing to lose, and it could potentially open an otherwise closed door.

And Ivan replied back and told him to come by his house to continue their conversation.

So my dad went, they talked for hours, and if he had never tried he never would have wound up in his living room that night.

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“Success..will come to us in the exact degree of the effectiveness with which we live each day.” – Earl Nightingale

I was surfing around on Quora the other day and came across this response by Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, to the question “What was the biggest turning point in your life?”  His answer struck me because it is so counter to how many people believe successful people became successful.

Read Quote of Jimmy Wales’ answer to Jimmy Wales: What was the biggest turning point in Jimmy Wales’ life? on Quora

We like to attribute the success of others to one major event or lucky break because it’s easy to dismiss it and point that out as the reason they’re successful and we’re not.

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