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Speaking of Marketing

I hope to have a small piece of software (my first) finished by christmas, to be released in January, the piece is aimed at University students, kind of a “$9 piece of software that every uni student needs” kind of approach.

Any suggestions about where to begin marketing this.

I am having a webpage made (small webpage by a talented friend of a friend www.actionplant.com) down on the cheap and on a ‘pay if it takes off’ basis. Good deal for me.
My thoughts would be to initially release only online (ie no cd, no packaging etc) so it costs very little other then my time..and some advertising. One the website is up, aside from submitting the site to google, what else should I do?

I was thinking of advertising on www.download.com, I use them a lot. I also have one local (Brisbane, QLD based) ezine that I receive, he will review my software for free if he likes it, but this is only a small reader base. I looked at www.lockergnome.com which is a really good ezine, but it is pretty pricey. My first thought is to make use of ezines (can anyone suggest any?). Or any other methods?

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Aussie Chick,

You did the hard part by identifying your market (“aimed at University students”). I know most of our universities have newspapers. Does this fit in with a specific field of study? Maybe you can send out free copies to Professors in the hopes they will “review it” but more likely recommend it as a tool for their customers (students).

Good luck! Curious to know what your software is.

m
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Get some of those "credit card" CDR's. Burn your software, print labels, and see if you can leave a stack of the CD's in the library (or where appropriate for the software).

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Some thoughts off the top of my head on how to do marketing nice and cheaply:

1) Follow up on the uni prof's - perhaps offer discounts to students if it comes as a "recommended" piece of software for the course. Maybe offer a rebate to the school? (Be careful/tactful how you present this of course:)

2) Most universities (at least in NZ) have student magazines. Not sure what their advertising rates would be like, but hey, it'd be targetted at least :-) They're also always looking for *well-written* stuff (more than enough dreck out there), so if you can write well you might be able to get some pieces in with your software mentioned.

3) I don't know what your software does, but if it's relevant/useful to all students, offer to run seminars on how to use it - check with the various bureauracracies first of course.

4) Likewise, offer to help out with training/seminars on how to use the computer, then slip your software in as a suggestion

5) Run an affiliate programme, and get in touch with a few of your friends or friends sons/daughters (depending on your age group:) and ask if they want to make some more money - if they're anything like kiwi students, the answer will be "yes" :-)

Finally, my view is that you should always be up front about your involvement if you ever recommend something - "XYZ, which I wrote, is really useful here blah blah blah - if you want to find more come talk to me later or check out the website", but there's more than one way to skin a cat :-)

OK, enough rambling from me!
Christo

Christo Fogelberg
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Thanks, I have been looking to find out if the universities have ezines etc, but did not think of printed newsletters, that will be well worth looking into.

I had thought about sending some free copies to the professors/lecturers, though am wondering what that would achieve, are they really going to promote the software for me?? Though in the long run it might prompt them to list it as a 'helpful tool' in the student guide.

What does the software do? I will let you have a play in a few months if you want.

Thanks.

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

4) Likewise, offer to help out with training/seminars on how to use the computer, then slip your software in as a suggestion

That is a good idea, My stage 2 had involved selling direct at universities (ie packaged), I had thought of selling them at open days or during residential school periods, and later via the university bookstores.

But doubling the stall as a ‘learn how to’ would be a great way of attracting attention.

5) Run an affiliate programme
I had thought about doing that with some of my friends in the states. The US is a huge market, and having good (trustworthy) contacts makes it easier to get in there. Never associated the term ‘affiliate program’ with it though, it will give me a good starting point to look at what other companies do.

I like your comments thanks.

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

I like Philo's suggestion of leaving "credit card" CDRs around.  These have been available for quite a while, but even as a geek I've never actually had anyone give me one.  They may be more common in your part of the world, but they're probably still pretty eye-catching.  The trouble will be finding a place where you can leave them.

What about just buying ad space in a local university newspaper?  Should be cheap.  And don't forget Google's targeted ads, which could also be quite inexpensive.

Giving presentations is also a good idea.  Here's a variant:  if your software is at all complex to use, try to start a local user's group for it. 

Sam Livingston-Gray
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Do you really think the credit card CDRs are a good idea?

The production costs would be pretty hefty (well at least for my meagre budget).

Who would the target be? It may be a nice way to pass them out to university lecturers. I know a fair few people wouldn't realise that they work just like normal CDs. Leave them at on a library counter... at least if I was after some sort of 'fun leave an impression' type of giveaway/promo this would be the one. But again probably has the highest cost attached to it.

Could be worth a try, at least at one university and see how it pans out.

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Production costs?  Are you thinking of having CDs mass-produced or something?  Start with a 25-pack, with labels from your own printer, and see if people like 'em.  You should be out for under $30, even in Australian dollars... ;>

These won't work as well as word of mouth, of course.  Try talking to the students who babysit the computer labs and get them excited about it.

Sam Livingston-Gray
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Yes, but even a $1 a CD is an outlay, how far will 30 CDs go when the student body numbers in the thousands?Out of 30 CDs, how many are going to take it home and load it, then out of the few that load it? So yes, $30 in production costs is something.

But then this is why I am asking, not expecting you all to be marketing expects, just wanting to throw around some ideas.

Is the $30 better spent in a newsletter advertisement, or as 30 freeby CDs?

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Just to state the obvious, she'd need to have 1/9 of folks picking up the CD buy the program just to break even since it's a $9 program. 1/9 is a pretty huge response rate; personally I'd say the cd giveaway plan is suicidal unless the program is a fairly expensive one -- say over $100 at least. Unless I'm missing something about the economics here...
 

Dennis Atkins
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Have you considered partnering with a larger company that has experience with campus marketing?  In the U.S., at least, there are various companies that have students on their payroll, and constantly give away free trinkets to entice students to try the latest cola/credit card/whatever.  The downside is that this would take much longer to get started (finding a business partner), and you'd have to share the profits.  The upside is that there would potentially be a much more revenue in the long run.  Plus, if it's really a "must have" sort of product, you might be able to charge $19 or $29 with better promotion.

Also, FWIW, if you do end up buring CD's, it may be worthwhile to have a CD customed mastered and copied, rather than buring CD-R's.  CD-R's make sense for limited quantities, but once you're over 500 or 1000 disks, they aren't as cost effective.  There are many businesses that specialize in duplicating CDs.

Good luck, and let us know what happens!

Robert Jacobson
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

The problem with advertising is short term-long term memory transfer. It doesn't matter if your ad makes potential customers orgasmic if they don't think about it while they're sitting at their keyboards.

That's the problem with flyers, print ads, etc, etc for software - the customer needs to think about the software WHILE THEY ARE AT THE KEYBOARD. The thing about credit card CD's is that they're like sticky tape - so long as they go in a pocket there's a good chance they'll get loaded on the PC. (customer dumps pockets, thinks "oh, what's this?" puts it on desk. Customer sits down later, thinks "oh, what's this?" and loads it...)

Now, to make ANY money on $9 software, you have to be viral. That means it has to be so fucking amazing that people will tell their friends about it. We all know of a dozen itty bitty utilities we would recommend to friends without a moment's pause - that's where you need to be. Empty niche with dire need, and fill it with something that just plain works.

With that in mind, the credit card CD's aren't your sales mechanism - they're your vector. They're one of many ways to get the software in front of eyes so the owners of those eyes will tell two friends, and they'll tell two friends, and so on, and so on...

It's not the only method I'd use, but I'd certainly cut a few and give it a try.

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

"Have you considered partnering with a larger company that has experience with campus marketing?"

I recommend K-Y Jelly. Vaseline leaves a greasy residue.

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

>I recommend K-Y Jelly....<

Phhhbbbpt.  Takes you one freaking minute to jump on my suggestion.  Don't you ever sleep Philo?  <g>

Robert Jacobson
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Dude, development, keeping a production system running, sysadmin for a .com, and keeping an eye on you lot - who has time for sleep?

Philo <- currently in the process of trading the first three for "job and a family"

Philo
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

I don't know about Australian universities, but here in the States they give everybody living in the dorms a box full of product samples and advertising stuff at the start of the school year that various companies distribute to the universities.  There are samples of everything from shaving cream to magazines, CD clubs (Columbia House, BMG, etc.), toothpaste, and credit card offers.  It might cost too much to put printed CDs in each box, but it shouldn't cost too much to print advertising flyers that tell the students about your software and give them the URL to get it.

Matt Latourette
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Breakeven is a good point to talk about.  She said she's charging $9, which doesn't mean it cost 9 to make, just the price she picked. 

Here's the formula to calculate Breakeven:

BE= profit +[(variable cost per unit x Quantity produced) + Total Fixed Cost]/Quantity Produced

Variable costs are:  direct labor, direct materials, and overhead costs

Fixed:  marketing/advertising

So, say you make 100 cd's from your home computer along with labels.

Some conservative numbers:

MATERIALS
100cd's =              $40  (circuit city price for all)

100 Jewel Cases = $30

100 cd labels =      $20

Ink cartridge =        $20

or 110/100=$1.10 per unit

LABOR
how much would you pay yourself?  Well, we'll say it's free.

OVERHEAD
you pay the rent, utilities so it's free

FIXED COST
$100 for marketing and advertising (surveys and ads and whatever else to start off)

ok, let's plug and chug:
                         
BE selling price=($0 + 110 + 100)/100 = $2.10 per unit and must sell 100 units to breakeven

now, let's say you worked 100 hours of your spare time to develop this program.  How much would it cost to pay someone else to do this same work.  Let's say a programmer get's paid 40k/year and assume a 40 hour work week (i really have no idea what it is in Australia), so that's 2.5 weeks of work, working 8 hour days.  Divide 49k/52 and we get $769/per week.  Ok, so 769*2.5=$1922.50 or $19.22  Now plug that into the formula above:

BE selling price =[$0+($1.10+$19.22)*100+$100]/100=$21.32/per cd to break even for 100 cd's.




Now, what do u want your profit TO BE????

Say you wish to make $500 off 100 cd's, then:

Selling price = (500 + 2032 +100)/100=$26.32 per cd
that includes the previous cost of labor.

Now assuming u choose not to pay yourself for your long hours at the computer as we did with the breakeven sellling price of $2.10/unit, then the formula becomes:

Selling price = (500 + 110 +100)/100=$7.10

Now since this number is lower than what u said u want to sell it for, what profit will u make for $9/cd:

Profit= ($9*100units) - $210 = $690 in profit if you're sayin u work for free.

Hope this helps to give u a very rough idea of what you'll make and how to manipulate the variables for accuracy in your pricing and profit analysis.

Good luck!!

Jeff M
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Credit Card CD's are good for certain people, but if you do make any sort of giveaway CD's, be very sure that they're high quality.

By that I mean autorun, smooth setup, and contact information easily available. Also, the autorun should have a very clear and easily accessable "What's this" section that tells what's on the CD, because some people (me for example) get tons of "sample" CD's and the ones that either require me to go browsing around to even figure out what it is, go straight to the bin. Also the ones in which the installer craps out -> to the bin. A badly produced promotonial CD is just waste of time and money.

My favourite ones are clean installers that don't take up the whole screen (I usually check these CD's while I'm waiting for a compile or something, and want to monitor it as well), and right up front explain very briefly what's on the CD, and give me the possibility to find out more.

What I really don't like is having to search for information that should be obvious.

Antti Kurenniemi
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Don't bother with the credit card CD, lots of contemporary personal computers won't play them.

We've tried three separate formats, each caused too much trouble with being unreadable in different types of drive. Not sure why, but the CD-R and CD-RW drives seemed the most incompatible.

We had them made by separate professional vendors, so it wasn't our own production equipment that was at fault.

Spend any marketing money you wish on flyers, spread them EVERYWHERE, and have a freely available download on your campus network or on the Internet.

HeWhoMustBeConfused
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Another possibility is University Computing services, which often eithe sell or recommend software to Students, eg at my local university: http://www.mcc.ac.uk/CustServ/Shop/Catalogues/index.html (not all the links work for people off the university network.

If your software is suitable (eg a "remind me when the essay is due" program, rather than a "disguise the plagiarism in this essay" program) then a mention in a "computing info pack for new students" might not be too hard to get.

Tim

Tim Sharrock
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Try Google Ad-words, it's easy and fast to set up, and you can start with a low budget.

Knowledge Maker
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Not only are the credit-card CD-Rs more expensive than normal CD-Rs, but they often get stuck in drives or refuse to work.  This is not the type of first impression you want.  Depending on how large your program is it may not even fit on a credit-card CD-R.

Anonymous
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

How many University students did you talk to when you were doing your market research?  Etc.

zigzag
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

I wondered about the $9 price, too.  You know how when you go into any store that sells computers, but isn't a computer store (office stores, megamarts with electronics sections, etc) they always have a rack with loads of genealogy software, Bibles-on-CD, clipart collections, math tutoring programs, and copies of Quake 2 and the original Tomb Raider?  At least here in the US, those consistently seem to be priced at $9.95 per CD.

Now, I'm anything but a marketing expert, but charging $25 or even $50 might actually make your package easier to sell *if* it takes your software out of the above category in the minds of its users.

See also http://www.shirky.com/writings/fame_vs_fortune.html which talks about "mental transaction costs."  It's in the context of micropayments for web content, but bits of it could apply to your situation as well.

Sam Livingston-Gray
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

I don't know what credit card Cd's are but my USB pen drive came with a diddly CD. It wouldn't get read at all in my desktop CD drives, and took ten attempts to copy 5MB on my laptop.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Aussie Chick

I would ignore *all* the comments about the sunk costs, if the work is already done. Think about that next time you decide to embark on a software project.

I am not sure about students where you come from, but from my experience, students are poor, cheap, and follow fads.

I don't think the online route is the way to go either. How many students will have credit cards, and be willing to wait for delivery?

There is also the obvious (but not yet stated) issue of piracy which tends to be quite rife in universities. You will also be competing with deeply discounted software from major suppliers.

Depending on what your software is, you might want to go the viral marketing route if you can. In that case, it had better be damned hard to pirate your software.

The alternative is to almost go the Amway Way. (don't laugh).

Students, at least where I come from, tend to have money right at the beginning of the academic year. Most universities will also have orientation weeks/days on campus, complete with club/society signing up  and market stalls. That and the fact that you potentially have the entire student body passing through this area over a week or so makes it a most attractive marketplace.

What you want to do is have a team or individual on site at each one of these events. The stalls tend to be pretty cheap. You wholesale the software to a bunch of students. Depending on whom you choose or how you do it, you might want to have them pay later, and only for the units that they have sold.

Your sales team can be responsible for dealing with posters, (some universities have really arcane rules about posters and about marketing in student magazines), pricing, spreading the buzz... let them do the work!

Tapiwa
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Good idea, but let me extend it -- recruit college students to promote the software to others. Pay them a commission for sales.

Marketeering Captain
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Aussie Chick,

I'm assuming your budget and resources are limit.  At $9 a pop there's not a lot of room for manufacturing and promotion, so you have to go on the cheap.

Here are a few things to consider...

1.  Think about having two versions of the product.  One you don't mind giving away - the teaser version - and one you expect to get paid for.  If students think it's a cool product they'll share it like their favorite album.  Just make sure they are sharing the freebie and not the revenue generator.

2.  Don't pay for advertising - get endorsements and media coverage (PR).  Buyers want to know that someone, whose opinion they trust, says the product is worthwhile.  University newspapers are always looking for content and would be more than happy to talk with you.

3.  Create a community on your website (or through Yahoo Groups).  It will be the best investment you make and a very efficient market research vehicle.  Get them talking and step back.

Hope this provides some value to you.

Cheers,
--Dave

Dave Daniels - Scottsdale
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Good morning (well morning here), I have jsut read through all your comments, and you guys have given me a lot to think about.

I am glad I asked. (I'm playing receptionist at work, so I have to run but have some comments laters)

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

"I would ignore *all* the comments about the sunk costs"

Including that one?

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

>Empty niche with a dire need, and fill it with something that just plain works

That would make a very cool internal company motto

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Philo

Yes, including that one.

Tapiwa
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

- I'd really reconsider the price.  $9 makes it sound uninteresting.  $14.99 makes it sound better.  And I don't even know what it does.

- Something I've seen work for my Apple Campus Rep friends is to hold a 'demo' seminar, and hold a raffle for something like an iPod.  Or pizza.  Food or prizes works well.

- Or you could just try & sell a site license for the entire university at once.  Depends on the product, who cares about it being used, and who you can talk into buying it :-)

Good luck!

H. Lally Singh
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Pizza giveaway

That is a fun idea.  Being at a uni and it will be seen as nicely humourous.

Campus wide licenses? That is something I had not considered, but have my doubts at the price it would cost to buy, they might as well write it themselves, unless it was really cheap, in which case it would have to be sold to a lot of universities.

Aussie Chick
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

I would go for $9.99

anything for that price I buy without a thought. When I have to break a $20, I think about it.

one more suggestion. Please spend a bit of money on the CD cases, and artwork. The last thing you want the students thinking is that it was something knocked up in a couple of hours by one of them.

If it looks like you just went down to the local print shop and copies a whole lot of CD inserts, then burned *many* copies on your home PC, then you probably won't sell much.

Tapiwa
Thursday, November 13, 2003

Thanks for that.
You said exactly what I hoped.
“For $9 I would buy it without thought, but I would think twice before I broke a twenty”

That is exactly the kind of impulse buying I want to go for.

And yes, if I did CD cases you can bet that they would look spiffy. I have already got a design guy who is good (the aforementioned friend of a friend www.actionplant.com), because I suck at design work.

And by the time the CD got to physical sales, I would invest in having them done professionally.

We get this ‘dividends’ program at work once a year, and for the last two years we have received the program, a completely blank cd with no label on it and ‘divs on disk’ scrawled across the CD using a black marker….very very impressed (not)….

Aussie Chick
Thursday, November 13, 2003

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