So it is a bit hard to navigate the internet marketing front without stepping on a few people's toes. Sometimes when other people step on your toes they do not realize it or do not care. Those people are usually the quickest and most easly offended people when you do things that invade their territory.
Truth be told I always wanted to create the ultimate link analysis tool. A while ago I thought ThreadWatch was going to do it, but that idea - for one reason or another - fell through. Later down the road a person contacted me with a pre beta type version of Backlink Analyzer, and offered to sell it to me for $1,200, which is not a lot of cash.
I had a few friends look at it, and they said it looked decent. Almost everyone noted how much quicker it was than other related software on the market.
I bought it and have been working with the programmers to add and remove features such that it would hopefully remain useful while being search engine friendly, which has costed me a few thousand more. By the time it is fully where it needs to be it may likely end up costing somewhere into 5 figures.
That is a lot to pay to develop free software that does not have a revenue stream, but my goal is to help new webmasters be able to compete with larger established players. A large part of that business model is going to be referencing cool stuff, creating cool stuff, & giving stuff away, and hoping that out of it good karma sorta comes back and helps me on the marketing front. In many ways it has - perhaps even more than I deserve.
I think the single most important part about creating stuff is that it gives you an excuse or reasoning to create original content around the tools or ideas. So many of the channels are just "blah said blah" and at times I often feel like I am letting myself do that. It is really easy to do too, especially when you got guys like Gary Price, NickW, and Danny Sullivan digging up so much good stuff.
The biggest cost in developing such software is time though, as you have to go back and forth a number of times to get exactly what you are looking for, and then if you get any serious distribution you have the potential customer support issues.
I remember when SEO Elite first started out. It went by the name of Link Proctor. I was one of the first people who gave Brad Callen a ton of feedback to make his software better, even telling him to change the name and features to add. Over time it got better, but the marketing got more and more aggressive.
His software essentially cloned OptiLink, but with a few added features and much more aggressive marketing.
I eventually wrote a mini guide for him, which I sold him the rights to package with his software. Later while looking at his sales letter I noticed that he put $79 as the suggested value of that bonus . Not so surprisingly that is the exact price I sell my full ebook for. He later changed that price after I told him how bad it pissed me off, but it was no accident that he marketed my free bonus as "newly released" and at "$79". He knew what he was doing. Stepping on my toes.
If people asked on a forum he would tell them that my ebook has broader coverage, but he was driving a ton of traffic at his sales letter, and it clearly led people to assume my ebook was a throw in.
I still get tons and tons of emails from people asking for free product support for his software or my ebook that comes with it. Even today I had some.
That is surely a valuable lesson in branding. Giving away a similar product to your main revenue stream on another channel for a one time fee or additional exposure can be an exceptionally bad call for branding purposes. Dumb dumb dumb.
Recently Brad sent me an email thanking me for "undercutting someone that's been more than kind to you. Anyway, just a little hurt that you would try to purposely undercut my means of earning a living."
I don't consider some of the marketing methods he was using as being more than kind to me.
- What did he think he was doing to OptiLink when he cloned their software and marketed it aggressively? I bet that "undercut someone's means of earning a living."
- What did he think he was doing when he put a $79 price point on the guide I wrote for him? I bet that "undercut someone's means of earning a living."
- What did he think he was doing when he put a banner on SEO Chat offering a free SEO Book to all SEO Chat members? With the banner using similar colors to my site no less? I bet that "undercut someone's means of earning a living."
- What did he think he was doing when he created a free SEO Book for affiliates which allowed them to insert their affiliate ID number into the book? When combined with the above I bet that "undercut someone's means of earning a living."
In the past he also wanted me to give his software home page advertising on my blog in exchange for higher affiliate comission or ads on more static websites he ownes.
The thing is, should I have been able to create faster software than that was on the market for only a few grand? Were the people selling the leading software holding up their end of the bargain?
Does the software automate your ability to cash checks? Some does, but most link analysis software just saves you time...it does not fully automate the process. Are the sales letter claims that the software creaters do not spend a dime on advertising true? Probably not. Especially if they sometimes complain about how expensive certain ads are. Are the claims to get hundreds of free links in under 10 minutes honest?
I could have launched the $1,200 version and it would have been better than many of the other programs, the only thing that stopped me from doing that is that I did not want to get banned by Google for scraping PageRank.
This is in no way a hate post toward Brad. He and I chatted a good bit in the past, and I think he generally is a smart marketer.
I always wanted to create killer free link software (see Link Harvester or Hub Finder), but the low cost of Backlink Analyzer combined with Brad's SEO Books should be free marketing made creating more and better link software a no brainer.
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