23 July 2005

ESC Members Win Awards

For Immediate Release

Contact: Al Harberg, al@dpdirectory.com

Educational Software Cooperative Members Win Awards

July 2005 - (Denver, Colorado) - The Educational Software Cooperative
(ESC) held its annual luncheon meeting at the 2005 Shareware Industry
Conference, and announced this year's prize winners.

The ESC Award for Outstanding Achievement in Educational Software was
presented to Pharos Games, developers of "Cherokee Trails" and other
adventure games. The ESC's People's Choice Award for Best Educational
Shareware was won by EvolutionCode Pty Ltd for their "RecallPlus" study
software.

Several ESC members won prestigious Shareware Industry Association
awards. "Cherokee Trails" by Pharos Games won honors for the Best
Educational Program or Game. "Guitar and Drum Trainer" by Renegade Minds
took the Best Application Using .NET award. "FeedForAll" by NotePage,
Inc. received the Best Internet Communication award. "AceReader" by
StepWare, Inc. won the SIA People's Choice Award for Best Educational
Program or Game.

To learn more about the Educational Software Cooperative, visit their
web site at http://www.edu-soft.org/, enjoy their public newsgroup at
news://news.lanbytes.net/edu.educational_software_coop/, visit their
blog on http://educationalsoftware.blogspot.com/, or write to them at
ESC, 127 The Ranch Rd., DelValle, TX 78617.

16 July 2005

The ESC Luncheon

It was great to see Richard and Margaret Hart at SIC this year. Richard and I both attend SIC on an irregular basis, and it has been several years since we were at the same event. Richard was one of the founding members and incorporators of ESC, and is now the only one of the original officers who is still in office. As treasurer and acting secretary, Richard keeps track of many things, including the numbers. How many members, what they do, who they are, what happens to them.

The luncheon had a good turnout, members, non-members, and soon-to-be members.
I sat next to Alan Elliott, of TexaSoft, who has recently re-joined ESC. We talked a little about various strategies for attracting customers to a website, including ways to develop more pages of interesting content.

The highlight of the meeting was, of course, the presentation of our annual awards.

The People's Choice award went to Adrian Ternouth of RecallPlus. Adrian was not present, so I accepted on his behalf. (The plaque will be shipped to him.)

The Award for Outstanding Acheivement in Educational Software went to Kathy Salisbury of Pharos Games. Kathy was definitely surprised; I could see her face as I announced the award. It was a pleasure to present this award to someone so deserving who does such outstanding work and who is such a wonderful supporter of others' work as well.

Musings at SIC - Part 2

An unplanned bit of excitement Friday afternoon was the tornado warning. I'm from California; I know what to do about fires and earthquakes, but tornadoes are a mystery to me. A warning signal sounded in the hotel and an announcement came through the speakers advising guests to stay inside, move to a safe area, and follow instructions. The sky was dark, with heavy rain and wind. I discussed tornado response with my more experienced midswestern colleagues. After about twenty minutes, the warning expired, and we all went back to normal activites. Later, from my eighth floor window, the clouds looked very unthreatening.

In the afternoon I took advantage of the massage room. This was a very relaxing experience, and just what I needed after hauling a heavy bag of equipment with me all day.

Exhibit night was lively. Everyone was given a game booklet to be rubber stamped at each booth. A fully stamped book entitled the bearer to participate in the prize drawing. The atmosphere was festive, with plenty of food and drink, more games and prizes at various booths. I set up my webcam in the ESC booth and discussed the advantages of membership with anyone who would listen. Two new members joined on the spot, and several more promised to sign up later. I will work on them some more at the ESC luncheon today.

15 July 2005

Musings at SIC - Part 1

There are people here I haven't seen in a year, two years, three years, or more. Often it doesn't seem that much time has passed, perhaps because we stay in touch on line. Some of us have changed just a bit, maybe a little grayer, a little fatter (or thinner). Some have moved, launched new careers, started families, retired. Others continue to do what they've always done, for better or worse.

The airport is a long way from town, and it's really hot here. Eric (Isaacson) and Jerry (Medlin) were kind enough to come pck me up, so I did not have to take the shuttle. After seeing how long the drive is, the price of a ticket didn't seem quite so high.

The hotel is pleasant enough. I have a quiet room. For once, I am not near the ice machine or the elevator. The shower is, as all hotel showers are these days, weak, but the bed is comfy. There is no sleeping late in a hotel; you get up when your neighbors get up. A cacophony of slamming doors reaches its peak at about 7:15am. At 8:45, I was already too late for the free breakfast. The seminars start at 9:00.

The hospitality rooms and coffee area are on the first level. Dr. File Finder is sponsoring massage therapy. Very relaxing. The other hsopitality sponsors are Avanquest, Cnet, Digital River, eSellterate and Tucows. The seminar rooms, cafe, and bar are on the second level.

The ASP luncheon seemed too expensive to a lot of people, but at $23 it was about typical for a hotel banquet lunch. There was plenty of food, not too many announcemets, and presentation of this year's ASP Hall of Fame inductees.

14 July 2005

At SIC

I arrived in Denver mid-day. After picking up my badge and goodie bag at the SIC check in, I attended a presentation on SEO (search engine optimization). The afternoon was devoted to hanging around, meeting and greeting. Digital River sponsored the evening reception, with a rodeo theme.

Details will be forthcoming. Right now I'm tired and looking forward to a good night's sleep!

13 July 2005

Nag Screen or Sales Screen?

by Al Harberg

Most developers create a single nag screen, and show it when the user closes the trial version of the program. After using your software two or three times, your prospects learn to ignore your nag screen, and simply click past it. It truly becomes a nag screen, and like most nagging, it simply doesn't work.

A much more effective alternative is to create a series of sales screens, and present them to your users at appropriate times. Making them context-sensitive will increase your chances of closing the sale.

It's easier than you think to create a series of sales pitches. In addition to using them in your trial version, you can use the text, along with your "buy now" buttons, to close sales.

Start by making a list of your program's features. Prioritize the list. The most important features are the ones that are at the core of your program, and the ones that your competitors don't have yet.

Next to each feature, write one or more of your program's specific benefits. The types of general benefits for business applications are things like saving time, saving money, leapfrogging your competitors, getting more organized, and doing things today that you couldn't do yesterday. For home entertainment programs, list things like having fun, relaxing, organizing your hobbies, and impressing your friends and family. For education programs for kids, write about the benefits that the parents are thinking about: giving your children the tools that they need to succeed in school and in life. Make each of these general benefits specific to your program.

For each benefit, write a sentence that asks for the sale. Most sales are lost because the salesperson never issued a call to action. To sell the full, registered version of your Widget program, you have to say things like:

- Order now and begin enjoying Widget's benefits immediately.

- Why wait another day? Place your order now, and start enjoying Widget's features right away.

- You deserve to have the benefits of Widget. Order now!

- Act now, and experience Widget for yourself.

- There's no reason to hesitate. Place your order now.

- There's no time like the present. Order Widget now, and begin enjoying the benefits immediately.

Combine the features, benefits, and closings into short, compelling sales messages. Write in a relaxed style. Talk to your users as if they were friends, and sitting next to you at your computer.

Don't wait until your prospects are closing your trial version to present them with your sales messages. Instead, give them a sales message when they make significant choices within your trial version.

When they use a feature that is available only in your app, say something like, "You can search the download sites for months, and not find another program that lets you do this or that". When they use your game's ZappoRay, present them with a sales message that reminds them that the full version of the program has more ammunition and a greater variety of weaponry. When they print their output, remind them that the registered version's printed output isn't watermarked.

Keep track of which sales messages you've used, and don't nag. Sell!

----
Al Harberg, president, DP Directory, Inc.
Marketing Solutions for Software Developers
http://www.dpdirectory.com

07 July 2005

Shareware Industry Conference

This year's Shareware Industry Conference (SIC) will be in Denver, July 14-16. SIC started in 1991 as the Summer Shareware Seminar in Indianapolis. About 100 people attended that first event. The Shareware Industry Awards Foundation (SIAF) was founded as an independent organization to present awards recognizing outstanding achievement in the industry. The first SIAF awards were presented in conjunction with the conference's second year.

SIC has grown over the years into a major event, with 300-400 attendees and the sponsorship of a variety of interesting, and sometimes very large, companies. It is the place for software developers and marketers, both beginning and experienced, to learn more about all aspects of the industry, network, make deals, and have fun. For details see the website at www.sic.org.

01 July 2005

Member of the Month

Our newest Member of the Month is Martin Weinberger, featured at http://www.edu-soft.org/mom/.