Nearly one year ago I released a free .NET profiler. I started coding it to solve a unique problem; a problem none of the available profilers could help me with. It was a fun experience and a much needed break from the day-to-day business of shuffling data between a UI and a db. Due to this joyous experience I created a generic profiler in my spare time and, as previously stated, released a public free version - mostly just for the fun of it.
I focused almost entirely on coding stuff which was interesting to do, but not all that useful in terms of profiling features or problem solving. Some months ago I started thinking how much fun it would be to get paid for doing this kind of programming and started to focus on making the profiler more useful. The ultimate goal is of course to turn it into a mISV and eventually make a living of it; the short-term is just to sell a few copies, get some useful feedback and evolve the product (or figuring out that it was a bad idea/implementation and toss it out).
So far I am thinking of rebranding the product with a new name and site and then move traffic from the old site to the new, with appropriate information about the change. Whatever version of the product is out there now, will remain free indefinitely, but unsupported.
How do I most effectively make this transition? Are there any public tales or experiences doing this?
The usage has been in the very modest range. The only real marketing I have done is registering some adwords (spending just a measly $40-50 pr. month) and mentioning it in one comment on a MS MVP’s blog. The adwords bring in about 10-15 new users each day, with a conversion around 40% (a conversion being a download). The rest of the traffic is divided between Google organic, Stackoverflow (these are sweet as they convert at around 80%), Direct traffic and links from elsewhere.
Most marketing advice are focused on creating a blog, but really, does the world need yet another startup/techno blog reiterating what is already said a thousand times elsewhere? I can see some interest in a technically focused blog, but only so much can really be said about profiling.
What other means of marketing towards developers are there? Magazine ads seem useless, but what about the developer focused marketing channels (like theloungenet.com) – are they worth the cash they require, compared to growing traffic more organically and focus more on adwords?
What about spamming tech bloggers with free version and hoping that a few of them will do a write-up? Is that advisable?
First of all I've got personal interest in profilers (used many and we use it occasionally profile our own products). Although I haven't seen your profiler before (and I thought I tried all free & paid ones).
Couple of humble advices:
My take on profiling (memory or CPU) it's just too complicated, if you can simplify it that would be a USP. Subject itself is too complicated, so maybe not much possible to simplify, I don't really know that much.
Anyway, lots of random thoughts from me, not a direct answer but hope it helps.
P.S. I'm sure you'll sell it, I just checked the features and screenshots, it's looking nice and quite feature-full.
IMHO as well as figuring out a USP (great advice above) you need to think about "Inbound Marketing" Its going to be far too expensive trying to go out and find your customers as this isn't a targetable niche (not like, say finding all Dentists in a particular area to sell iDentist to) so you need to work out how they will find, recognise and remember you.
Start by reading
So concrete actions
Many big software outfits offer "white papers/case studies" where a user has to fill in all his personal info, etc. The white paper shows how your application can help them save money, make their clients happy, etc. Then you can have them opt into a newsletter where you send them an occasional email with programming tips, a subtle product advertisement, new features, etc.