Who you gonna call?

At this rate, probably the GhostBusters.

It’s late. I need to send a proposal out tomorrow. The price sheet I’ve got doesn’t have the price of the equipment I need. There’s no contact information for the guy, or his company in the price-sheet. I’m not expecting an immediate response, it’s the middle of the night, but I can’t even send him an email (hoping he’ll deal with it early tomorrow morning). Worse, I’ve already wasted half an hour just looking for his details and trying to remember where I might have kept any of his contact details. Even if it did have the price, I still have no idea how I’d buy the stuff from him – I can’t reach him.

I’ve said it lots of times, and I’ll probably keep saying it till I’m blue in the face.
Put your contact details on everything you produce.

I can’t buy anything from you if I can’t find you.
Nor can any other prospective client.

Saying no gracefully

When you get a message that doesn’t make the grade (seriousness, dollar value, time frame), it’s very tempting to ignore it. After all you get so many messages, and you’re very busy. It’s only reasonable, right? You have to prioritize how you spend your time… right?

What we often forget is that someone, a potential customer or maybe just a window shopper, said “Hello!”. If you’re not careful, by ignoring them, you’re leaving them with a negative image. Think about their perspective! By not replying, you’re sending a message that they’re not worth your time, you can’t be bothered replying, or worse, that your pre-sales is so poor they shouldn’t bother buying (imagine the post sales experience!?).

You need to treat every inquiry, whether it’s a web form inquiry, email, direct message, forum post or tweet, critical or not, with as much importance as a walk in customer. These are your customers, and your response (or lack thereof) if going to determine what they think of you, and what they communicate onwards.

A well received negative response can be worth more in positive brand image than an actual low value customer.

Beta Marketing

One of the speakers at the Gaming Conference India 2011 this morning, mentioned as an aside that it was important to have high quality products when you launch, because not unlike the case of WarHammer, bad press can destroy your product. This is something that has never been more true! News travels quickly on social media, and bad news always travels faster than good.

What does this have to do with my beta release? Today a lot of software gets released as beta, with developers believing that users will help refine the bugs and contribute to the development. Whilst this is still true, today your beta needs to be really well finished.

A polished, easy to use beta, that evolves quickly in response to users concerns and comments may earn positive reviews, more beta users and hopefully customers. A poorly finished beta, may very quickly earn the opposite – bad reviews, user drop off and worse a strong negative sentiment before the actual release!

You can’t hide behind the beta tag anymore. Today a software beta release is akin to the pre-launch of a new restaurant, an enormously powerful marketing tool if done right, and nothing less than a catastrophe if it goes wrong.