Subject: Marketing and Sales
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <turnbull@sk.tsukuba.ac.jp>
Date: Tue, 28 Sep 1999 14:26:03 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "DJ" == DJ Delorie <dj@delorie.com> writes:

    >> Sometimes I wish there was more marketing and sales discussion,

    DJ> OK, here's a thought to chew on - software handyman.  Why not?
    DJ> I know people who are handymen[*] (i.e. they do odd fix-it
    DJ> jobs for other people for a living), why not software?

Cool.

    DJ> * "Handyman's union" or something similar to gather, inform,
    DJ> and get benefits of scale.

"Guild" is a good word (as suggested by someone else).  But "scale"
implies monopoly power for the guild.  Do you mean that, or do you
simply mean getting the going rate, ie, the rate at which nobody else
sees a point in underbidding?

    DJ> * Some way of paying (handymen usually take checks, but if
    DJ> you're working ten states away... ?)

Checks still work.  Their problems are part of "overhead" really.

The guild might be able to handle credit card payments for paid-up
members.

    DJ> * Standard rates for little projects.

Sounds like you'll need an AI CGI for this on your web page.  Because
the customers you're targeting are not going to understand what makes
a project "little".  Just like plumbing, really.

    DJ> * Way to reduce overhead so that small projects are worth
    DJ> doing as a handyman.

    DJ> * Advertising?  In the physical world, word of mouth and a
    DJ> card at the local store work, but there is no "local" on the
    DJ> Internet.

These are really the same, and they're aspects of "everywhere is
local" on the Internet; that was your point about checks, really:
Internet local and realspace local are different.

I don't see why putting it in your .sig would be offensive.  Many MLs
and some newsgroups would accept somewhat larger announcements, and
vcards are ubiquitous in some venues.

Think about "local" in terms of the 'net communities you hang out in,
not in terms of realspace.

    DJ> * Tasks easy enough for a handyman to do, the user usually
    DJ> does themselves.  How to make it worth hiring someone?

Some users do it themselves.  Hang out in _non-programmer_ 'net
communities, where most users don't.  I know a lot of people whose
Win95 splash screens still show the message about taking the tour,
click here to suppress this dialog.  (Making house calls to fix that
kind of thing would take you back to realspace "local" :)

Eg, I'm writing a "find the Pokemon" game for my daughter.  Just point
the mouse at rocks, click, and there's always one there (she's not yet
two).  I'm willing to bet a couple hours' work she'll be happy to use
"her" Pikachu-infested display and leave mine alone (sometimes).

The point?  _I'm_ having too much fun to let somebody else write it,
but if you hang out on soc.kids.keeping.their.hands.off.the.pc, I bet
you'll find customers for custom games of that type, that a real
programmer could knock of the original for in two hours, and turn out
variations as fast as they could track down images.

Getting the idea across that you can both customize games for two-year
children and customize accounting software for two-year-old businesses 
is tough, I suppose.  Be creative.  Write (or adapt) a program to
rotate your handyman .sig according to addressee---or get a handyman
to do it ;-)  See my .sig (it's a fake, I'm not competent :)

-- 
University of Tsukuba                Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences       Tel/fax: +81 (298) 53-5091

Custom business plans for FSBs - http://turnbull.sk.tsukuba.ac.jp/handyman/