I set out to correct that before I started my own company and looked for a job that would let me work closely with marketing but still be engineering based. I found one at Sun which was effectively a 'technical marketing engineer' although at the time I joined the marketing folks just needed an engineer to translate what the competition was doing into something they could argue about. I too was amazed at how much more complex it was than my simplistic assumptions had been. I moved over into the kernel group later (they too had offered me a spot when I had interviewed) and have been pure engineering ever since but never forgot the lessons of that time.
Things I learned,
1) Marketing is not sales - Sales is the process by which you convince someone with money to give it to you in exchange for a good or service. Marketing is the thing that happens before that which informs you why you might want to talk to a sales guy. A guy marketing a car will tell you that the car has the highest safety rating ever, the guy selling the car will tell you if you write a check right now he will take an additional $1,500 off the sticker price.
2) Marketing is about perception, and perception is personal. The job of a marketeer is to communicate an idea so that you can see it and perceive it the same way the marketeer does. That requires that you first discover the perceptual language of the target, then translate the message into that perceptual language, communicate it, and then test again for understanding. Marketing a car that smells like bacon to a vegetarian just doesn't work. If the biggest chunk of car buyers are vegetarians, and your car consistently smells of bacon, you need to translate that into something positive somehow. Not simple :-).
3) Marketing is ubiquitous - one of the interesting conversations with my daughter as a teen about what to wear, your clothes give others an impression of you, you cannot prevent that, all you can do is control it. People are constantly taking these bits of information in and reasoning about them consciously and unconsciously. To be successful you have to have influence over as many of those information channels as possible. Getting that influence can be tricky.
Basically, it isn't as easy as it looks like it should be was my conclusion.
Sales: assume the product sucks and your job is to convince customers to buy a really shitty product
Product: assume that there is no sales and your job is to create a product that people cannot stop raving about after using it for few minutes
Client Services: assume the product sucks and your job is to still keep the customer satisfied
Edit: To clarify: Red Bull is, for me, THE epitome of marketing. They sell a tremendously unhealthy product (bacon-smell car) as something that is healthy, basically by connecting themselves with extreme sports. Red Bull IS extreme sports and lifestyle. How insane if you think about it.
I agree with you though.
It's pretty easy to attack a product with the argument that "you won't need" it. There are only a handful of things that humans truly need.
Marketing done right is strategic. It's about segmenting a market, targeting the right niche, and looking for the right positioning within the niche. It's about guiding the product towards both stated and unstated needs. It should happen before, during and after development. And yes it should also involve generating demand.
Starting marketing after the fact is like building quality into an already created product. Quality is designed in.
He was a marketing guy for the Sparc workstations that was Sun's bread & butter. Atleast for a brief window of time, the Java server-side experience was actually better on a Sparc than anywhere else.
Edit: In Microsoft's case with the CLR, I can see the cross-platform goals being mainly technical, but MS sells software and developer tools. So it makes sense for them to get everyone using their platform. Did Sun have an aggressive plan to control the ecosystem and sell tooling and whatnot around it?
Once it was being seen as the "death" of Microsoft, taking away the desktop monopoly and moving it into the browser. Well then it became a hammer to beat upon the enemy, and beat they did.
That it was effective against Microsoft ensured it would get funding and support, it also prevented some really useful things from coming to market from Sun at least (like a native compiler, ala gcj, in which to build Java 'binaries')
This might possibly be connected to the fact Sun no longer exists as an independent corporation.
You can safely say just "no longer exists". Oracle made sure it erased any trace of Sun trademark from anywhere it could. Now it is Oracle Java, Oracle VirtualBox,... I always wondered why they chose to totally eradicate this trademark instead of keeping it. Does anyone know?
One of the many reasons our stock price went from $80 to $2 methinks...
1) marketing is not sales - This is absolutely incorrect. Marketing is any communication that touches a prospect or customer. Copywriting is salesmanship in print. Sales is absolutely a key ingredient of marketing!
2) Marketing is about perception - Partially true... Branding is about perception, marketing is about much more than just perception.
3)Marketing is Ubiquitous - This time you got it right!!! Marketing is influencing every possible touchpoint with consumers.
We'll have to disagree on your characterization of Marketing as Sales, I see them as two very different types of communications. That said, I know people who flip back and forth between the two, and people who are really stuck in one side or the other.
Sales is a marketing tactic. The salesman is the media, the sales pitch is the message, and the prospect is the market...
The pitch and process might be different, but thats because its a different form of marketing than print or tv or internet,etc...
But... your sales team should be under the umbrella of your marketing department... otherwise you will have the classic conflict of bad leads vs. bad salesman, a classic environment where people can easily shirk responsibility and shift blame instead of recognizing that they are all part of the same process.
Thank you sir. Added your blog to my bookmarks.
Of course, picked vegetables are also decomposing at a certain rate - but they don't have a dead animal smell. This is also why I'm excited about Soylent, and I haven't seen them play up the sustainable/ethical angle as yet.
Isn't that the same for all dead vegetables as well? You can dry cure meat to a point where it will barely change if the environment is just right.
And dry cured meat is not relevant to my initial statement that to me, bacon smells like dead animal. Actually, jerky doesn't have that smell. I miss jerky, but I like cows more.
1) bacon's smell has nothing to do with bacon itself - it's the preservatives that are used just the same for vegetables (sometimes)
So you're just responding to a bad eating experience from long ago. I have the same - with fish. I can't stand being in the same room with it, I can't eat it without throwing up. I also know it's safe because for the first 3 years of my life I ate almost nothing but fish, and then I guess I ate a bad batch, and given my parent's habits I'm guessing I was forced to finish that. That's what's causing my aversion.
I like to say that it's animals (and plants) forced to swim in their own faeces all their life, even in human faeces near coastal cities where nearly all fishing happens. I know several other people who have an aversion to certain foods (different from allergy because aversion is psychological, allergy is physical). But I'm under no illusion that fish is actually unhealthy. On the contrary, I fully realize it's healthy (and yes, I make sure to eat/drink/season things with fish oil on a regular basis)
I would say that there's a lot of reasons you should reconsider vegetarianism though.
2) humans can't survive without eating the components of meat. There is no doubt about it, all human species are omnivores : while we can live for long periods without meat, it's risky, and going entirely without meat leads to death (even replacing meat with fish is risky). In the modern world it's actually possible to get a meat-replacing diet, using many components. Most vegetarians don't do it this way - they ignore the problem. Result : at first, slimming, which is what they're generally going for, and after a while (generally months or years) : sudden shutdown of a bodily function, or sudden death after a medical incident or blood loss (because it depletes stores of critical molecules they can't replace). Vegetarianism not healthy, it just slows the rate of depletion of critical proteins to a rate that won't cause issues for years (in an adult. Try it on a baby and they WILL die. E.g. http://naturalhygienesociety.org/diet-veganbaby.html )
A lot of vegeratians seem to think an attack against vegan/vegetarian diets is an attack against them. And because they've developed this psychological aversion, that there is something evil about a person trying to "convert" them. No matter the science behind it.
there's an argument that while vegetarianism certainly isn't an ideal diet, it's better than McDonald's. And that's probably true.
That has been asserted, not established. I assert that if one is a regular meat-eater, they no longer notice the corpse smell.
> 2) humans can't survive without eating the components of meat... going entirely without meat leads to death
Oh lordy, where do I even begin with this broscience. Allow me to introduce some actual Science.
In 2003, 42% of Indian households were vegetarian and ate no fish, meat or eggs. There are many cultures around the world who abstain from meat for religious reasons, eg Buddhists and Hindus. I'm afraid this directly contradicts the outlandish claim that a vegetarian diet leads inevitably to ill-health and death.
2) a lot of Indian households are indeed "vegetarian", in the sense that they can't afford any meat (not even poultry). They replace it by eating animal fat on bread. Pig fat mostly. Europeans do the same thing, and today you can get it as a delicacy. It's a very original taste, but let me tell you. If you dislike the smell of bacon, this is unlikely to agree with you.
3) "There are many cultures around the world who abstain from meat for religious reasons, eg Buddhists and Hindus". Hindus abstain from eating cow meat (though not milk). I'm not aware of Buddhist attitudes, but the first line on wikipedia directly contradicts what you're saying . Clearly it's only monks (which have been eating meat for -at least- 14 years as part of the general population). There are zero cultures around the world that abstain from meat alltogether. For obvious reasons : if you do, people die, without fishoil and pig fat ("food supplements", guess what they're made of ?).
4) how do you talk yourself out of the -many- cases of food deficiency caused by vegetarianism and/or veganism ? Not just the ones today, but the many documented attempts, for seafaring and other travels of vegetarian diets that resulted in death on a large scale. Large enough to alter outcomes of battles, kill entire crews and so on.
5) Also the tons of instances of babies dying from food deficiency where it was blamed -by medical professionals- directly on the diet of their parents ? I hope you're not planning on having kids - ever (although a kid will be fine with a vegetarian father, it's the mother that causes problems early on. Afterwards, not feeding the kid meat or fish is bad). Hell I checked in the supermarket here and the apple + banana baby feed mentions that infants can't survive on fruit alone, and you really should also provide meat and fish products, ideally both.
1. Everything you have said about Hindu and Buddhist vegetarianism is poorly researched and inaccurate.
2. If you are going to make extraordinary claims like "vegetarianism inevitably leads to illness and death", you'd better provide some compelling scientific sources rather than "zomg this vegan baby like totally died once lol XD".
Upon reflection I think you have just been trolling me. Poor show, HN is a place for serious conversation, not reddit style childishness. Jog along.
If your marketing isn't helping you overcome objections, you need better marketing, because your marketing isn't selling.
This right here ... a 1000 times. I've been a developer for years now and I always held onto the same fantasy of launching something so good that marketing would take care of itself. After building a couple of products and being involved in a startup or two I've found that getting software built is not usually as hard as marketing it successfully
Software Development = Easy
Marketing that Software = Wicked Hard
This is only true because most people are building fairly trivial software.
So I would say, it's only true because Hacker News consists mostly of people who already know how to build software, but far fewer of us know how to market.
For example, in a child comment you mention go build photoshop and get back on how "easy" it is. Problem is more complicated the software, harder the marketing part. In-fact, you might need a full fledged marketing and sales team if you were to successfully launch a complicated software.
But that doesn't mean we should make blanket statements that building software is easy. Because it's only easy if the problem you're trying to solve is easy.
People are paying in proportion to the pain/joy you solve, not in proportion to how hard it is to solve that. The difficulty affects only supply - i.e., if you do make it, how large the competition will be.
Have also written tons of other stuff that this did NOT happen to :)
With software, you can find a way to get it to work. Given the right knowledge, you can accomplish your goal. (Assuming a goal that other people of similar skill have achieved it, and not proving P=NP type stuff.)
With marketing, even if you do everything "right", there's still a huge chance at failure. Being experienced, knowledgeable, and focused doesn't mean you'll accomplish what you set out to do.
I think it's related to the fact that you control software when you write code. Marketing has so much outside of your control that even doing everything right still only results in a < 100% success rate.
Some tips from a marketer:
+Get analytics set up! I see that you've only mentioned the top of the funnel (traffic) and the bottom of the funnel (downloads). I'm assuming you don't have tracking for the full flow (traffic > install > activation > day 1-30 retention > Sales). Get this set up pronto. It's crucial to understand where the bottlenecks are and to also segment traffic to know which efforts are working.
+Marketing starts before you launch. You'll get a far stronger reaction from blogs, sites, and other people when you contact them 2-3 weeks before launch. Creates a sense of exclusivity and plus gives you some momentum to develop an installed base from Day 1. In light of this, perhaps you should call the current app an 'alpha' and re-launch to get some buzz :-)
+Major sources for you to consider:
Referral: Blogs, 3rd Party App Stores, Tech Sites, Forums, Quora, Stack Overflow, and where ever people who have the problem you're trying to solve is asking for help.
Partner: App stores, resellers, etc...
Paid: Facebook, AdWords, LinkedIn, GDN (I advise you to do thorough research before starting. It's easy to launch poorly designed campaigns and get the misinformed idea that these channels don't work)
Viral: Add any social sharing anywhere you can.
+App Review sites review 100s of requests each day. I ran FreeiPadApps.net for 2-years and received 20+ app review requests/day. Mostly from indie developers, agencies, and bots. Try instead to reach out directly to an editor or writer by email/twitter/linkedin.
+SEO: Get up to best practice (title tags, headings, kw research and mapping to content), but don't bank on it. The gold rush for SEO growth circa 2007 is largely over :-(
+Look heavily into any type of 3rd party app stores for free promotion.
+Not sure of JIRA/Github has any 3rd party app pages. Worthwhile to look into this and seeing if you can get included.
With all that said, doing everything above will get you on par with what everyone else is doing. To separate yourself from the pack, the awesomeness of the product needs to take over :-)
Best of luck!
- reddit can be a goldmine of traffic because it has so many subreddits that one is bound to cover your niche (IF you have a really niche product)
- have a blog, then write interesting things that may not necessarily have to do with your product in a direct way 42floors.com is a good example to follow.
- optimize said blog for SEO
- make sure you get email addresses from prospects that land on your site and use them, email marketing is one of the most effective forms of marketing software ... go here for how http://www.kalzumeus.com/2012/05/31/can-i-get-your-email/
- make sure you have at least a twitter account and if you have the time, fish for people that could be interested in your product by finding tweets about competitors, or hashtags related to your product. engage these tweeters.
etc etc ad nauseam
A nice funky starfield with a pretty logo taking up half of the page, and a partial screen shot taking up to the rest of my screen space (1920x1080).
Nothing about what it does instantly pops out. Then I realise there's more, so I scroll - Something, something, JIRA, GitHUB, FogBUGZ, something something.
Hmm, ok, based on that probably not something I'd need. Close the page (before even getting to any of the other stuff).
Come here to read the comments, and buried away here, I found this comment by you https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6686624, which says:
"I work on contract iOS jobs and I need to track my time to invoice my clients. It sucks using my web browser to start and stop the timer. "
And I think, this, yes, a thousand times yes, and am now downloading it to try it out.
The takeaway from all this, I shouldn't have to find out about that from a comment tucked away on HN, but your website is not arranged in a way that makes it immediately obvious that I want this product.
This comes from an AdWords guy. Seriously, work on marketing to the community and with content, not with paid ads. Paid ads come in when you've identified a market, medium to reach them and what your message is. Have that nailed before you spend a dime :)
My take from the website, there is no price on the main page. I have to click 'Buy Now' with no idea whether I want to actually purchase. Which is a commitment (in my head) that I'm not prepared to make without knowing the price.
I decided to pass, but I bookmarked it so that I'll be able to find it again in the future if I ever find that I really need a quick way to access my Jira issues from the desktop.
The $49 price is entirely reasonable considering the breadth of the feature set and the target audience, but it does put it outside the impulse purchase comfort zone. It might have been helpful to put it on sale at launch with a discounted price in order to build some traction and lower the barrier to adoption for people who are on the fence.
If the answer requires more information then I'll ask you to email me instead.
1) The above the fold stuff sort of showed me what it describes itself as, but not what it really is. A looping animation or video would have been really helpful.
2) The below the fold stuff originally came across as separate products. Like I thought it was your catch-all page for a few other products you've made. So maybe you could make it clearer that they are all components of Bee.
3) Just my own reaction that I noticed - when you demonstrate compatibility with several outside services, there might be a weird disincentive to try it out if the potential customer doesn't use all of those services. Like I immediately had a suspicion that since I use Jira but not Github or Fogbugz, that the other focuses of the tool would get in the way or make it feel unwieldy. (I didn't download it to disprove that feeling.)
4) Time/task tracking is a REALLY crowded space, and I imagine it is really difficult to convince someone to try out a new tool, partly because of switching costs. For instance, for me, I use Quickbooks on the Mac, and I'm pretty married to Intuit's "My Time" since it's the only tool I know of on the Mac that will automatically transfer time records to Quickbooks, which I then use to make invoices. And then if someone asks me why I create my invoices from time records in Quickbooks, then... heck, I dunno, I made the decision at one point and it works for me. I could do a whole first-principles analysis I guess that might lead me to a completely different way of working that might lead me to being able to using a different time-tracking app like Bee, but... I don't like going that low on my e-Maslow's hierarchy very often.
5) No obvious mention of price on the front page... no obvious indicator of what clicking the "Buy" button will do or where it will take me. I moused over it, looked for an info tip, and didn't click. (I'm one to just buy rather than deal with download/try/maybe-buy.)
1. You are currently marketing the features of your application. Consider instead marketing the problem that you're solving. Demonstrate that you understand the problem and then show why Bee is the solution to it.
2. Which value proposition are you competing on? Clayton Christensen suggests that often markets move through functionality, reliability, convenience, and price. For software professionals, that probably looks like functionality, usability, reliability, convenience, and price.
3. As a gut reaction, your price to feature set seems off. How did you originally come up with the price? It's one of the hardest and most difficult things. If I were you, I'd set up an intro price of $19 while you're on HN front page, and advertise that right on the landing page.
Nice to see both approaches here; I wonder which truly works better in the long run.
People who buy your software usually do so during the first few days of a trial. Only a small percentage of those who let the trial go to the end will buy.
Source: My (and fellow [m]ISV's) experience over the years.
Oh, btw: A search in the mac app store for "github issue tracker" (and other similar terms) won't show your app.
So, did the OP find his own product useful?
I work on contract iOS jobs and I need to track my time to invoice my clients. It sucks using my web browser to start and stop the timer. I also wanted quick access to all my tasks, past and present without going through a slower web UI.
Also the app comes in handy when I need to jot down a quick note or remember something.
Maybe I should incorporate some of that ^ on the site.
There does seem to be a saturation of apps on my platform: windows phone to where just another makes no sense. Mostly devs make it for themselves and since we're all unique, these things are like snowflakes too.
Be careful about your plan to "…keep pushing out updates to the app to fill out the feature requests existing users have". It's easy to fall back to strengths – adding fun features, responding to tangible requests from existing customers. But clearly your priority should be getting the word out.
Maybe commit to yourself: no new features unless you're certain they will close new sales?
Read the book. It helped me immensely.
Reason marketing is effing hard (for us programmers) = human is fickle and feedback is sporadic.
However, if you could pull out the "flight path" feature ONLY into a separate app at say a $10 price point, I would probably jump. Something unobtrusive in the menu bar that tracks my time on task AND automatically pulls up what I should work on next, quickly and easily, would be great.
FWIW I was very excited to see Bee but haven't done the work to setup a password for my account on our Jira ondemand instance.
I wonder if some of the slower adoption for you has been people like me using a google account to log into Jira and simply not having a real Jira credentials.
I'll get around to it but I suspect I'm not the only one that didn't feel like mucking around in the Jira account settings to setup credentials for Bee to connect with.
I assume there's no way to access the Jira API otherwise?
1. The notion that you "build a better mousetrap" and people will beat their way to your door is true maybe 1% of the time. Many more companies have had to fight a little to become successful than just said, "This is so awesome that everyone loves it." That being said, no amount of marketing can make up for a crappy product.
2. Marketing should be baked into the product itself. If you're figuring out "now how do I get this out to people" after everything is finished, except in some rare circumstances it's too late. Explosive growth almost never happens by virtue of a product being so good that everybody shares it and it goes viral. Yours might, but you can't count on that happening. So how can you leverage your existing user base to create more users?
3. Getting press is more than emailing a couple of bloggers. And emailing bloggers has to be done in a very specific way to get their attention. It's difficult, because you only have one shot: Think about having to run some code and if there are any errors it all falls to pieces. That's what emailing bloggers feels like. But when it works, it works. And when one place picks you up, the others jump on board really quickly (they're kind of like investors in that way).
4. A lot of the "marketers" you've talked to might suck. It's a lot easier to pretend to be a marketer than it would be to pretend to be a programmer. And just as a non-technical person would have a difficult time trying to figure out if a programmer is any good, it will be hard for you to tell the difference between a good marketer and someone who has no idea what they're doing
5. You need a critical mass of users to determine if your product sucks. When I started marketing my first product, I couldn't pay people to use it. It wasn't that people were saying, "I don't like this," but I couldn't get anyone to try it to say whether they liked it or not. Then after months of grinding and trying to figure things out, we found the sweet spot. Thousands of users per day jumped on board, to the point that our biggest problem became scaling. (A good problem to have, but certainly a problem). If I had given up one day earlier I would have thought that no one cared, but really there was no one to care. There's a difference.
6. 99.99% of the time doing marketing is spent figuring out what works. Once you know (and it's different for each client/customer/app), it's really easy. Don't discount it when someone says "Oh you just do this and this, and boom, users." The same as you wouldn't look at a designer and say "Well you just designed that really simple logo, that can't be hard," you can't just look at the work they're doing -- you have to consider the work they have done. And getting to simple is hard.
So the moral of the story: Don't give up yet. It's too early to know if anyone will care about what you built; you have to get it out to more people.
And the next time I hear someone say, "You don't need a marketer, it's all about the quality of the product," I'll point them to this post. Thank you for your honesty, and best of luck to you.
Maybe the positive advice will be in your Guide (haven't clicked the link yet)?
EDIT: OK, I should have clicked the link first. :)
Most startups fail because they aren’t hitting their target growth rate, not because they failed to build a product that works.
You have to fight to grow. Evaluate how much time you spent building your product, and then invest just as much time in growth-related activities.
"If I had given up one day earlier I would have thought that no one cared, but really there was no one to care. There's a difference."
Most inspirational thing I've read after getting the 'we are sorry' mail from YC.
I'd make the starfield extend further down the page, past the first screenshot. Then I would somehow frame the other sections of the page. Maybe by adding an interior border or some sort of texture.
Marketing is a cousin of visual design.
Collect email from potential users on a landing page. Then, send them email to let them get to know you and you know them. After a few emails, say 5-7, you could say "hey I have this great product that makes doing X way easier!". A number of potential users who get to say the 5th or 7th email will then trial or purchase your product if you ask them to. That's like getting the first date. Your product ultimately still has to be good for it to be a long term relationship.
Pretty much any email newsletter software worth anything supports some kind of autoresponder series functionality.
You could also try getting a promotion from apple in the App Store.
Another thing you should do is incorporate some sort of analytics in your app. Most users wont tell you ANYTHING about your app. I'm running Google Analaytics and I can tell that the average user spends ~7 minutes in my game which lets me know that each session is pretty engaging. That's also 7 minutes that they are getting hit with iAd's if they didn't upgrade. Metrics are key, so add something to track app usage.
Your application is niche so you need to target spaces where people that use your the services that your app integrates with hang out.
2. Giving up and ranting too early! Marketing is perception, so make sure you make whatever N users happy then tell them to share (it's as simple as this), rinse and repeat. After a ~100 happy users, you'll have a good sample of customer base and it should steadily grow to market potential from there.
3. First release is just the beginning. Your idea is but a hypothesis. As long as they're is still legitimate feedback to work on, the product is still not reaching it's potential (again, ranting too early!).
One you figure these things out, creating campaigns that accomplish your marketing objectives will be more natural and less like a stab in the dark.
If you intend to go hard on marketing this app and exploring ways to do that, can you put up an email form, so I know when your next blog post is?!
In my opinion (of limited authority), a lot of 'spin' can be spun, mostly for free, that can generate a great buzz pre-launch.
It's something I'm going to invest a lot of time and effort in next time I do a launch.
1. Use Cases- If your product aint selling, you need to illustrate use cases for your product. If you manage to showcase a very contextually relevant use case, it could literally explode. Like Youtube instant- Its a relatively unused but incredibly useful feature that got its share of sun because it came quick on the heels of Google Instant.