Marketing II: Marketing the Palm Software
Starting anew in the Palm OS publishing world as an independent, tiny developer, avenues for marketing is pretty limited to the Internet. At this moment, we have branched our marketing venues to other routes to reach potential customers. Because of confidentiality, I am not allowed to disclose the other avenues we are currently and participating in the future.
Internet Marketing for Palm OS Software
Typically, a small independent developer would distribute to the usual large ESD sites.The two largest are PalmGear.com (owned by PowerbyHand) and Handango.com. If you are just depending on marketing through the Internet, these two sites would most probably give you the highest downloads and revenues.
However, one thing I realized about marketing through the Internet, visibility is most important to reach out and make known products to potential customers. It is not all about listing your software at many sites to make revenue from each site, after all, if you do want to make most out of your profits, purchases through third-party transaction vendors (like eSellerate, payPal or Plimus, we use) would give you the most out revenues less commissions.
List your software to as many Palm OS related sites as possible, including forums and other developers site (if they consent to it). To target forum-specific audience, be actively involved in discussions, provide first-hand news and development, and offer beta participation among forum members. Active communication with them would certainly create a 'following' base and increase popularity of your application through the Internet.
Much to the contrary of many, word-of-mounth does not seem to work as much on Palm software as with desktop related products (like KaZaa or hotmail.com). First of all, the market is too small for this kind of 'marketing' to work. Secondly, reading from surveys, a very high majority of Palm device users still do not know about third party software. The majority of people who purchase third-party software for their devices are mostly so-called geeks. Word-of-mouth is highly contagious in forums where these geeks meet and chat.
Search engine marketing could also be a good tool to spread the news about product, probably bypassing the vendors and lead potential customers right to your website.We actually have not tried seriously in advertising through search engines. Please e-mail me of your experiences if you have some to share.
Affiliate marketing is another great way to focus your products to specific (seggregated) groups of audience. Take it as something like advertising - you've done your listing at the large ESD sites, participate in forums, list on many other small sites you can find - now, let your product be visible to potential customers at your competitors or other developer's check out counter or newsletter . Everywhere a person goes, he will see your product. At least it may incite some curiosity from him to check it out. Call it free advertising!
However, if you are actually trying to earn reasonable amounts of money through becoming another's affiliate, you might be dissapointed if your customer list is small. Being inexperienced at that time, we carelessly forgot about the website visitor statistics. We listed some other products at our site, but sales was almost non-existent.
Mailing List Exchange
Mailing list exchange is another good way to spread internet marketing of your product. It's almost a free advertising agreement between you and the other developer. The barter trade here is not that the other party gives out his customer list to you, but both of you mutually agree to spread the news of each other's product through respective mailing list for free. Mailing list exchange is probably worth more than doing an affiliate marketing especially is your list is small.
In my previous article, I have mentioned the importance to keep newsletter contents fresh to prolong user interest. Promoting other products through affiliate marketing and mailing list exchange (like above) can keep the contents fresh. It is not so much about selling other people's products, but it really is about keeping people interested in your product.
Consumers' Consciousness of Developer
Much to our dissapointment as a developer, many consumers are still not aware, I'd say, the existence of developers. Many still look through the large two ESD's, i.e. Handango and PalmGear.com to search for applications. Of course, these two ESD's, provide the ease of searching applications for consumers than search engines like Google, for example.
Bearing this in mind, myself as a developer, has taken the responsiblity of educating the consumer insisting on them reaching directly to the developer for purchase and support. I pledge that you, as a developer do too. It will in fact increase your takings and provide more efficient support to your customers.
What kind of Market?
If you are focussing your marketing through the Internet, you may be, as a developer, be exposed to only certain types of customer. The large majority of the kind of consumers who buy software through the Internet are more tech-aware and so-called geeks. If you are going to focus on this market, an application that is more techie would certainly charm them! In relation to our proudest product, Facer Launcher, it doesn't fare too much with this group as the product is not targeted for them. However, as PalmOne, PalmSource, mobile carriers and other retailers open up their channels, there are more chances for a more generalized product to succeed. But getting listed through the other channels (other than the Internet) is pretty hard, as they only select a few to be distributed through them.
Internet distribution can provide with a reasonable returns on your software. Focussing on what kind of of target market is concentrated in the Internet distribution, will certain help you in developing the right kind of application to hit it off. However, recently, more channels are open for more generalized applications to sell to the general consumer which are not as tech-aware and have low frequency in the geek-o-meter. Perhaps, it's even worth more to target to these consumers instead?
1 am. September 15, 2004