Wanted to vector you onto a business strategy post from my other blog, CNCCookbook. It goes like this:
Having founded 4 Silicon Valley startups and participated in success and failure at 3 others, I’ve learned a little bit about making a business successful. I write another blog called Smoothspan that specifically discusses business strategy for entrepreneurs, but I like to do a post here every now and again when I have something to say that is particularly suited to the CNC, machining, and manufacturing world. I know a lot of you out there either have your own businesses or have considered starting a business, so I want to pass along whatever I can.
Every business needs a difference in order to stand out, get noticed, and attract customers. If you don’t know what’s different about your business or idea for a business, it’s time to get busy creating a difference. We do a lot of things differently here at CNCCookbook. Some of the most obvious differences have to do with our approach to marketing, our approach to pricing, and what we try to do differently with our software.
With marketing, we try to avoid overt hard sell tactics, or what I would view as spam. We send email, but mostly it is a digest of the articles from this blog. The closest we get to a hard sell is to send an email letting people know we’re running a sale. We also give away a ton of information that has nothing whatsoever to do with our software. We believe that all things CNC, manufacturing, and machining are interesting and that the job of our marketing is to attract a community of individuals who agree with that proposition. If we built our software right, some of you will also decide to be customers. But we’re very patient about that. We get folks buying the product more than a year after trying it, and that’s fine with us. A lot happens in a year and it may take that long before you develop the need for it. Given that we get over a million visitors a year to the site, I’d say this strategy is working well.
Our approach to pricing is different than most of the CNC software world. We don’t believe in a big up-front fee. We analyze the market, decide who the competitors are, look at their prices, and then charge a fraction of that as a subscription. Eventually, we’ll make more money, but we have to keep you happy enough to keep subscribing for years. If you’re a hobbyist with a hobby-class machine, you can quit subscribing and keep using the software with a horsepower limit that matches your machine’s capabilities. And you will have paid less than the competition’s up-front one-size-fits-all pricing.
(Cross-posted @ SmoothSpan Blog)