I’ve been spending time over the past month or so in the Microsoft Producer user group, and have been getting some great information and feedback on the upcoming release of iPresent Producer , my soon to be released web presentation tool. (Quick note on the name iPresent Producer: I never intended for this to be the final name of the product, and so I’m in the process of renaming the product and defining its identity, as I get closer to launch - more on this later).
Anyhow, I really should be blogging more frequently, but I’ve just been so focused on development. Luckily, I’ve been speaking with some great folks over in the MS Producer forum. I really wished I had participated in this forum earlier in the process. I can’t stress the importance of spreading the word about your new product, even before it is released. The feedback and response you receive is well worth any “trade secrets” you may reveal.
However, you have to approach participating in a forum where your potential customers may exist in the right manner. Here are some tips for doing so:
- First and foremost, a forum is no place for blatantly marketing your product. You need to contribute in a meaningful way - answer questions and share useful information using your expertise in the market. I’ve been a user of MS Producer for several years, and have a lot of experience creating and distributing streaming media. I tend to answer technical questions on the board, because that’s what I know best.
- When answering technical questions, help the poster achieve a resolution to their problem. That means following the thread, and continuing to help until the poster is satisfied. You should view it as a practice run to the customer support that you’ll eventually provide.
- When you do contribute a useful response/post - always include your signature with a link to your website or blog.
- When a poster says: I wish Product X did Y. That’s your opportunity to pounce. I feel it is completely appropriate to mention that you’re building a similar product that solves the unmet need. However, I usually respond first with another alternative solution (even a competitor’s product), then I mention that I’m working on something that does Y
Anyhow, if done tactfully, contributing to forums related to your market can be a great way to introduce your product to potential customers, and more importantly a great way to receive feedback.