The PageRank for Software for Starving Students (via Google’s toolbar) went clear from 0 to 5 with the latest data update. That’s pretty indicative of the almost immediate success the project has enjoyed. The site has only been up since the very end of December but has had some really incredible growth. Just check out the Alexa traffic:
As the project’s volunteer marketing director, I’ve had a valuable lesson cemented in my mind. SoftwareFor had practically no link recruitment; we just focused on making a really cool (free) product. We included top-of-the-line open source programs and gave it a sleek GUI. About the only “marketing” involved me staying up all night and polishing up some very good quotable text for the webpages. In other words, we focused almost exclusively on making a cool product –which (after all) is what the market wants.
The project got almost 1000 Diggs (thus the traffic spike) because it was cool. People from all over the world linked to it because it was useful to them, not because a bunch of suits spent a lot of money trying to jam it down their throats. Our traffic spiked and our PageRank jumped because we provided a service that people legitimately wanted.
Conclusion: The market doesn’t care how much you spend on it. Instead it wants to know what you can do for it. If what you offer is cool, then your “customers” will market your product for you. A cool product (or service) almost sells itself.
Although link recruitment (for SEO purposes) and reaching your market are important, many people and companies take the wrong approach. It’s not about beating the system via comment spam, round-the-clock commercials, or anything else. It’s the classic standoff of “Push vs Pull”, and with today’s technological sounding boards, “pull” always wins.
The best way to market your products is to give the market what it wants. In other words, just be cool. Be remarkable, and people will remark.