Maker Business – Marketing

Marketing is your job

Rule #9: Marketing is your job.

Marketing you say? Hell yeah, I got this one…

I mean, marketing is all about making things look good, right? Check this out:

The Button

OK, I’m only slightly kidding. I know marketing is more than just pretty pictures, and making things look good, but I do believe that’s definitely a part of it. Just look at the stuff that Evil Mad Science or Adafruit does. They both do their best to provide good, clear photos of their products. Check out the Make Flickr Pool. Some photos are really terrible, and others are really well done. I’m much more likely to view a photo and read about a project if the photo is awesome. (Awesome photos can also help you get in the roundup.)

I may have a bit of an edge, because I’m sort of a photographer, but even if you aren’t, there are some great tutorials online to improve your photography no matter what you shoot with (even an iPhone!) and if it’s really important, find someone to take good photos! If you can find a maker who would take some great photos in exchange for a free widget, send them the widget. A good set of photos go a long way.

OK, enough about photos… on to the other parts of marketing.

You should be blogging about your progress, and tweeting, too. Take pictures and videos of every milestone, and post those. Use every opportunity to talk about your work in progress and get people excited about it, which will not only start to form a community around it but will also build demand for it.

That’s all marketing. Community management is marketing. Tutorial posts are marketing. Facebook updates are marketing. Emailing other Makers in related fields is marketing. I suppose what I’m doing right now, writing this list, is marketing.

You can have the greatest product in the world, but if no one knows about it, you may never sell one. Marketing is sharing, it’s telling your story. It’s also hit-n-miss, and there’s no formula to make sure your marketing is effective, but you need to do it anyway.

I’ll also add in this little update: I created a store, and have already sold one unit. Starting slow, right? I’ve not opened it to the general public yet, but invited a few interested people to order. I’ll ramp up a bit and see how it goes. As for the rules, the next one is not fun…

(See all the posts in this series: Begin, Stock, Buy Smart, Basic Rules, No Leeway, Be Open, Community, Manufacturability, Marketing, Shipping, Lessons Learned, The Real Costs.)


Chrome Web Store… Evil?

Google’s got something new planned… it’s the Chrome Web Store! There’s a nice description at Mashable with a well-produced video. (Google seems to be working hard at creating well-produced videos, filled with people you really want to trust… are they actors? Real Google employees? Real Actors Google has hired as employees?)


So this new Chrome Web Store, or “App Store” as it were, seems to be a way for people to “sell” applications to Chrome users. To be fair, you can also make your app available for free. As for the paid part, well gosh, they aren’t that evil because they take a smaller cut than Apple does with their app store. Make no mistake, Apple’s App Store is evil, so even if you’re less evil than the guy who is more evil… you’re still evil!

Apple’s App Store is evil. I won’t deny that… Steve basically says that if you don’t like it, you can build your app as a web site, and use Mobile Safari to access it on your iPhone. That idea may be less evil than the Chrome Web Store, because while Apple suggests you do this, it doesn’t do anything to get into the revenue stream of it, and leave that’s totally up to you to figure out. I also don’t think they suggest you make it work only in Mobile Safari…

So here are some questions about the Chrome Web Store…

  • Is it based on open standards?
  • Will it work in all browsers, not just Google Chrome?
  • Can anyone run a competitor to the Chrome Web Store?
  • Does it help keep the web free?
  • Does it help keep the web open?

There is a battle going on… it’s for control of the web. I’m on the side of keeping the web free and open. I can see this fracturing the web, and I don’t like it.

It looks like the Chrome Web Store will also allow for the selling of browser extensions for Chrome. An interesting idea. While Mozilla popularized the idea of Browser extensions, Google wants to come along an monetize it. But don’t worry, they’ll only take a small cut…

Ultimately this makes sense for Google and their Chrome OS, which means to take over everything, because all you’ll need is The (Google) Cloud™ and the Chrome Web Store so you can buy your Google Approved Apps to run in your Google Chrome Browser and OS. But it’s OK, because Google doesn’t believe in lock-in.

This is just one more reason I really don’t care for the Google Chrome web browser… I prefer to stick with a browser created by a non-profit organization that has a similar mission to mine, to promote openness on the web.

P.S. I think Google is a great search engine. They also do other things quite well, but that doesn’t mean I want them to do everything, and I definitely don’t want them to control everything.


Atomic Records

Atomic Records

Atomic Records, a mainstay of Milwaukee music, is closing…. and it makes us sad. Not just us, but pretty much anyone who loves music, and has been a customer some time in the past 24 years. For many of us, who first went there in the early years, it was the way we got music. (There was Ear Waves, Atomic Records, and Rush-Mor… and soon just Rush-Mor will be left.)

I started going to UWM in 1987, and it seemed like a weekly occurrence to walk down to Atomic and see what was going on… what fliers were up, what zines where out, what records we could find. Yeah, records… on vinyl… or tapes, lots of tapes from local bands, or 7″s from punk bands from wherever… you get the idea.

So it’s with great sadness we say goodbye to Atomic. (I tried to save them, really I did…) I’m sure if I go through my collection of vinyl, tapes, and even CD’s I would find a good amount that I got from Atomic Records. It’s weird, but I even remember specific events, like seeing about John Makay (teenage runaway from high-school) right across the street when everyone we knew thought he was in California or something… or the time Scott Schoenbeck saw me there, but didn’t know it was me cuz I was wearing blue jeans or something weird like that… Just crazy stuff that doesn’t mean much, except to me.

Atomic, we will miss you… you played an important part of my life, and the lives of many in Milwaukee (and surrounding areas where there were no record stores) when we needed it… Thanks!


Apple Store: Madison

Apple Store Madison

And then there were three…

Madison, one of my favorite Wisconsin cities, is getting an Apple Store. It’s at West Towne Mall, and will open July 7th, 2007.

And just a week after the Bayshore store opened. (Note: I’m hoping to be at the Apple Store Bayshore on Saturday July 7th, 2007 – Jason, are you working that day?)


Apple Store: Bayshore

Apple Store Bayshore

Grand Opening: Apple Store, Bayshore 6:00 p.m., Friday, June 29, 2007. Yup, that’s right! Another Milwaukee Apple Store. A good friend of mine works at this one. Sadly, I don’t think I can make the opening, but I do look forward to stopping by as soon as I can.