overcoming obscurity

How can you make money when your product is available free?

Dingbat I’ve just purchased Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. It’s a clever young adult (YA) novel about being a kid in America in the very near future–with access to so much technology yet victimized by an overbearing government. I’m only six chapters in so far but I love this guy’s writing. (Hint: don’t read this book if you strongly support the Patriot Act.)

In a case of “new rules” marketing, he is offering the book through the traditional vendors but also via free downloads!

Doctorow explains,

For me–for pretty much every writer–the big problem isn’t piracy, it’s obscurity.

And when you love a book, don’t you tell people? And don’t you buy a new copy after you lend the old as a gift? I’ve done that with Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow, The Old Man’s War, Pillars of the Earth plus Inmates are Running the Asylum, The Deadline, The PC is not a Typewriter, New Rules of Marketing, and others.

The same is true of products. The challenge for most products–and product marketers–is overcoming obscurity. One way for people to find you is to publish. Fill your web site with white papers, ebooks, news releases, implementation guides… rich content written for users and technicians, not just brochureware for buyers.

Just win me over! And then I’ll buy and buy and buy.

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1 Comment

  • Reply Saeed Khan November 15, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    Great book Ender’s game. I’m pretty sure I gave my copy to somebody. Don’t remember who. :-(
    Also the obscurity point is a great one. Marketing and Positioning are so critical for product success, yet not enough (IMHO) attention is paid to them in the overall product lifecycle.
    My best experience with winning people over was a demo I once gave at a trade show that wowed people. I wrote about it in the following blog posting.
    Ideally I’d like to recreate that experience with every product I manage.

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