Plans, Luck, Accidents, and Software Sales

July 14th, 2014

“In creative endeavors, luck is a skill.”

So says Twyla Tharp, the dancer, choreographer, businesswoman, and author of the 2003 book “The Creative Habit – Learn it and use it for life.” She devotes a chapter of her book to recognizing accidents and mistakes, and turning them into creative successes.

It’s good to have a plan, Tharp insists. But it’s a mistake to over-plan. Learn to plan ahead, and to recognize great stuff when you discover it.

Tharp believes that you have to have a plan. But following it too closely will stifle creativity.

Some people deny that luck is a factor in their creativity because they want to take credit for all of their accomplishments.

Sometimes plans fail to achieve their desired results, for a number of reasons:

  • Other people get in the way of our plan.
  • Our plan isn’t perfect. Many people can’t get started until they have a perfect plan, and a perfect series of the precise steps to follow. Sometimes we just have to get started, even if we’re not perfectly prepared. Sometimes it’s a blessing to have very limited resources such as too little time or too little money.
  • The format of our plan is bad. Sometimes we fail because we’re trying to fit a new idea into an old pattern.
  • We have misplaced obligations. We’re under pressure to please somebody with bad ideas. Or we have to conform to the wishes of the person who’s in charge.
  • We have the wrong resources. We simply haven’t equipped ourselves with the tools that we need to carry out the plan. Sometimes, having too little time to accomplish something motivates us to run and get the job done.

This chapter has three exercises that are designed to increase our creativity. Tharp asks us to pick a fight with ourselves. Choose a presumption that we’ve been depending upon for the success of a project, and reject it. Dismiss it. Do the opposite. And derive ideas from the tension and conflict that you create.

In another exercise, Tharp tells us to get lucky by being generous to other people. In my opinion, that’s the fundamental principle of success in business – being generous to other people and forming lasting, mutually-helpful relationships with others in the industry.

In a third exercise, Tharp urges us to work with the best people available. Again, this is a great insight from an accomplished artist.

It’s hard to use a short blog posting to summarize an entire chapter in a book about creativity. I’d recommend that you add “The Creative Habit” to your bookshelf. Twyla Tharp is a creative person who can explain how each of us can become more creative. The book will help your microISV business and your software sales.

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ASPects July 2014, New Member Forums for the ASP

July 1st, 2014

, Editor, ASPects

The July ASPects is online now. The ASP has announced completely new forums, with responsive mobile support and SSL everywhere. Al Harberg has written about how to use forums, and I’ve written about Enterprise software in the age of apps and BYOD, all available exclusively for the members of the Association of Software Professionals.


ASPects, July 2014
July 2014, Volume 27, No. 7, Issue #288 (291 Kb)

ASP has New Forums, with SSL & Mobile Access
by Dennis Reinhardt
The ASP has now transitioned our discussion forums to a unified environment built on top of MyBB…
The URL is:
https://www.asp-software.org/mybb (page 1)

Trade Show Calendar
(page 2)

Ten Tips for Maximizing Your Benefits from ASP’s Forums
by Al Harberg
In the past 16 years, I’ve read thousands of messages in ASP’s discussion groups…
Here are some tips that will help you maximize the benefits that you can enjoy from participating in ASP’s discussion groups
(page 4)

ASP News
All NNTP and vBulletin discussions are READ-ONLY
Co-Administrator of MyBB Forums announced (page 5)

Enterprise Software, Requirements, and Payoffs
by Jerry Stern
Business software has changed, and continues to evolve…
Now, Enterprise software refers to products that can be centrally-managed, for purchases, installation, management, and document control. If you can sell to this market, expect to have steady renewals & upgrade income, or annual contracts sold by seat count.(page 6)

ASP Member News
Windows Font Manager Offers Powerful New Functions (page 6)
Stretch Break for Kids (page 6)

News & Press Corner:
FTC Launches Contest at DEF CON 22 to Help Track Down Perpetrators of Illegal Robocalls (page 8 )
AVG Study Reveals Small Businesses are Positive about Future Opportunities with the Internet of Things (page 8 )

ASPects Newsletter

Phablets on the Rise

June 19th, 2014

phabletsJuniper Research reports that phablets will probably have a major growth spurt in the coming years. They estimate that more than 120 million phablets will ship by 2018 (compared with 20 million phablets shipped in 2013.)

What are phablets? They’re mobile devices that are larger than smartphones and smaller than tablet computers. They weren’t widely embraced by mobile device buyers when they became available a few years ago – especially in Europe and America. But they’re catching on in eastern Asia.

Wikipedia describes the history of phablets. Players in the phablet market include Nokia, Verizon, LG, Dell, Acer, and Samsung.

What do software developers need to know about phablets? Your websites have to be easy to read on smartphones, tablets, and phablets (whose diagonal screen sizes are typically larger than 5 inches and smaller than 7 inches.)

Don’t neglect this segment of the mobile marketplace. It’s growing.

– by Al Harberg, the Software Marketing Blog guy

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June 2014 ASPects, Closing the Software Sale

June 1st, 2014

, Editor, ASPects

The June ASPects is online now. Al Harberg has written about how to close software sales. And there’s news for and about members of the Association of Software Professionals.


ASPects, June 2014

June 2014, Volume 27, No. 6, Issue #287 (219 Kb)

5 Classic Ways to Close the Software Sale Online
by Al Harberg
It’s hard to find good information about how to close the online software sale. By contrast, it’s simple to find high-quality ideas about how to close the car sale, the house s a le, and many other face-to-face sales. Fortunately, it’s simple to translate many of these sales ideas from other industries into the world of the software development industry.
   Here are five ideas on how to close sales online, resulting in greater profits for your microISV… (page 1)

Trade Show Calendar
(page 2)

ASP News
Question for the Board, E.D. Contract term (page 3)

Is Your Software Too New?
by Al Harberg
It’s good to offer software applications that are new. It’s dangerous, however, for companies to sell products or services that are too new…
   It’s unlikely that the authors were thinking about the software development industry when they wrote their book. But this principle applies to software developers, too, for a number of reasons… (page 5)

ASP Member News

DataNumen: Data Recovery of Microsoft Outlook Files (page 6)
Avangate CMO Michael Ni Appointed to SIIA Board (page 6)

News & Press Corner:
FTC Testifies on Patent Assertion Entities, Legislation to Prohibit Deceptive Patent Demand Letters (page 6)
FTC Outlines Recommendations for Online Advertising In Testimony (page 7)

ASPects Newsletter

The customer isn’t always right

May 11th, 2014

The customer isn’t always right.

So says Robert A. Lutz, the former President and Vice Chairman of Chrysler Corporation and the author of the book “Guts – The seven laws of business that made Chrysler the world’s hottest car company.”
One of Lutz’s Immutable Laws of Business says that the customer isn’t always right. In fact, Lutz says that nobody in his or her right mind could possibly believe that the customer is always right.

  • Customers don’t know what they want.
  • Customers lie.
  • Customers can’t predict the future.
  • Customers certainly don’t have the industry-changing ideas that companies need to succeed.

Since customers and prospects aren’t very good at pointing companies in the right direction, many firms decide to play it safe. They create products and services that are right for everybody.

Lutz believes that this approach is doomed.

Companies can make more money, Lutz tells us, if they create niche products and services that are enthusiastically embraced by prospects and customers. When you water down your product or service, and try to please everybody, you end up not pleasing too many people at all.

In today’s marketplace, people no longer have to settle for their second choice. Prospects simply won’t buy bland, one-size-fits-all products and services.

I don’t recommend your adopting Lutz’s strong anti-customer attitude. But all software developers should give serious thought to creating niche products and services. Alternatively, create software applications that target the mass market, but create separate niche marketing campaigns for each sub-market that you’re targeting.

– by Al Harberg, the Software Marketing Blog guy

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April 2014 ASPects is Available Now–How Will You Support Windows XP for your Software Customers?

May 1st, 2014

, Editor, ASPects

The May ASPects is online, for the members of the Association of Software Professionals.


ASPects, May 2014

ASPects, May 2014
XP Upgrade Notes: Managing the Risks of XP
Will Your Customers Come to You for Software Upgrades?

by Jerry Stern
April 8th, 2014 has passed; Microsoft’s ‘Extended Support’ or ‘security patch services’ are no longer being provided for Windows XP. It’s official. There will be no more new security patches… This is a large pool of computers that will be replaced over the next few years; your software is on some of these machines, and you need to keep existing customers when they’re moving to new hardware… (page 1)

Trade Show Calendar
(page 2)

ASP News
Exclusive Free Extended Trial Offer at Lynda.com (page 3)
ASP Quarterly Budget posted (page 3)

Write Better, and Sell More Software
by Al Harberg
A book review of Words Fail Me – What Everyone Who Writes Should Know About Writing by Patricia T. O’Conner (Published 2000 by Harcourt Brace & Company)
    You’ll sell more software if you improve your writing… (page 5)

Get Great Backlinks from ASP’s Blog
by Al Harberg
ASP members can boost the association’s visibility by posting on ASP’s blog. If the ASP can create a steady flow of information for the software development community; information that will help non-members sell more of their software; then some of these prospects will join the ASP to learn even more. When new members join the ASP, everybody wins… (page 6)

News & Press Corner:
Microsoft showcases latest updates to Windows, opportunities for developers (page 7)
Adobe Report Shows Continued Facebook Ad Business Growth; Dip in Revenue per Visit for Twitter(page 8 )
FTC Notifies Facebook, WhatsApp of Privacy Obligations in Light of Proposed Acquisition (page 9)
Embarcadero Launches RAD Studio XE6 (page 9)

ASPects Newsletter , , ,

The Importance of Brands

April 15th, 2014

Developing a BrandWhile many marketing experts are saying that brands are becoming less and less important over time, David D’Alessandro used his book “Brand Warfare – 10 Rules for Building the Killer Brand” to tout the importance of branding.

Brands are the shorthand that consumers use to interpret the world, D’Alessandro tells us. He talks about three ways that brands help consumers:

Brands save time

There’s no need to learn all of the choices available in any particular category if you find an offering with a brand name that you trust. The author mentions that Children’s Tylenol outsells all other brands of acetaminophen combined. In this example, brand beats price.

This fact makes it more difficult to offer, say, consumer software because there are large companies with trusted brands. It makes it even more difficult to offer business software. As the old saying goes, “Nobody was ever fired for selecting IBM.”

Brands project the “right image”

If the food that you serve isn’t well-received, you can always say, “I selected the best brand” and you will be vindicated. Or so the argument goes.

Brands provide an identity

This seems to be true when it comes to choosing a brand of beer, automobile, or cigarette. And to a lesser extent, it applies to computer hardware and home consumer products, too.

How important is your software brand? How much effort should you expend building your brand? I agree with the people who say that branding is not as important as it used to be. Truth is, though, building a powerful brand can significantly increase your software sales.

     – by Al Harberg, the Software Marketing Blog guy

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April 2014 ASPects

April 1st, 2014

, Editor, ASPects

The April ASPects is online. Al Harberg writes about how to write a book review, and why, and about the future of the desktop applications market. I have announced the new web site for ISVCon, and gone back-to-basics on product documentation, with writing about passive and active voice. Check out 4th Person (missing…)


ASPects, April 2014

ASPects, April 2014

New Website and New Videos at ISVCon.org
by Jerry Stern
The new website for the ASP’s ISVCon event has been launched at www.isvcon.org.
     The new site is mobile-enabled, has information about the conference, and will serve as the signup for future events, when announced.
     There is a signup process to see the videos; the site will send the link for the 2013 video set on-request… (page 1)

Trade Show Calendar
(page 2)

Help the ASP Attract New Members
by Al Harberg
It’s easy to write a book review that your fellow ASP members will find useful. By following the guidelines below, you can quickly craft a book review of a recently published book that you enjoyed reading… (page 4)

The Future of Desktop Applications for microISVs
by Al Harberg
There’s far too much pessimism about the future of the Windows desktop/laptop software market. Truth is, small independent software vendors (microISVs) have a bright future for designing, programming, and marketing business applications for the Windows desktop/laptop market. Here are some considerations to keep in mind as you’re planning your future software development projects… (page 5)

Passive Voice is the (Missing) 4th Person
Product Documentation Back-to-Basics

by Jerry Stern
Grammar teachers tell us not to write in the passive voice.
     They’re talking about sentences like these, where it’s not announced who the actor is, who did the action; we only know that the object had something done to it.
• The software was installed.
• The button was clicked… (page 7)

ASP Member News
Ransen Software Announces DXFtoHTML Version 2 (page 8)

News & Press Corner:
Microsoft Expands Cloud Services for Mobile Scenarios (page 9)
Marketers Struggling to Reinvent Themselves in Digital Age, Adobe Study Reveals (page 9)
Embarcadero Launches Appmethod, an App Dev Platform to Address Multi-Device Developer Challenges (page 10)
FTC Approves Final Order in Case About Apple Inc. Charging for Kids’ In-App Purchases Without Parental Consent (page 10)

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Smartphone, Tablet, and Computer Sales

March 7th, 2014

internet marketing word cloudIDC and Gartner recently released new figures about device sales in 2013.

Both market analysis companies reported that the number of mobile phones shipped in 2013 was more than 1.8 billion. That’s a year-to-year increase of 3.3 percent or 4.8 percent, depending upon whose number you believe.

Smartphone shipments, IDC reports, are up 38.4 percent in 2013, with 1.004 billion units shipped.

Gartner reports that mobile phone growth will be modest in 2014 (1.893 billion units shipped) and in 2015 (1.965 billion units shipped).

Desktop and notebook shipments were 299 million in 2013, and are projected to be 278 million in 2014 and 268 million in 2015.

     – by Al Harberg, the Software Marketing Blog guy

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March 2014 ASPects Online Now, Business ‘Why’, Tech vs Arty, Game Design Book

March 1st, 2014

, Editor, ASPects

The March ASPects is online, for members of the Association of Software Professionals. Al Harberg writes about how the markets have changed when it comes to choosing whether to create products for the general market versus vertical markets. Gianfranco Berardi will simplify every business decision you make. And he has reviewed Tynan Sylvester’s book, Designing Games.


ASPects, March 2014

ASPects, March 2014
“The ASP’s New Public Web Site is Live!”
by Jerry Stern
The new ASP web site is up & running, mobile-enabled & responsive, and open for business now… (page 1)

Trade Show Calendar
(page 2)

ASP News:
Howard Sobel is PR Chair, Creation of an Officer Search Committee (page 3)

“How to Simplify Every Business Decision You Make”
by Gianfranco Berardi
If you’re like me, you might have gone into business for yourself with complete ignorance about how to do so. I remember reading a few books on bootstrapping and entrepreneurship and finding that they had a few common concepts… (page 4)

“Book Review: Designing Games by Tynan Sylvester”
by Gianfranco Berardi
Many people have tried to create a comprehensive definition of games but have failed. Most definitions are either insufficient in that certain games are left out, or they are too broad and encompass too much that are not games. In Designing Games, Tynan Sylvester writes that games are “an artificial system for generating experiences…” (page 7)

“Vertical Marketing Success Stories”
by Al Harberg
The opinion of most microISVs is that developers can maximize their profits by creating and marketing software that reaches as wide a market as possible. Truth is, you might make more money if you create niche applications that target very specific vertical markets… (page 8 )

ASP Member News:
“Digital River Releases White Paper on Proven Online Merchandising and Promotion Strategies” (page 10)

News & Press Corner:
White House: Answering the President’s Call to Strengthen Our Patent System and Foster Innovation (page 10)
“Microsoft Enters into New Global Partnerships in Fight Against Cybercrime” (page 10)
“FTC, FBI Warn Consumers About ‘Cryptolocker,’ A New Breed of Computer Malware” (page 11)
“Microsoft OneDrive Launches Worldwide” (page 11)

ASPects Newsletter