by Mark H. Anbinder, Contributing Editor -- firstname.lastname@example.org
In the ever-increasing competition for just a little bit more market share, third-party manufacturers and publishers, and the dealers that handle it, have to come up with increasingly creative ways to peddle product lines. Some companies, such as Apple, irritate the traditional dealers by going through other channels, or even competing directly. Others, such as CE Software, find the best of both worlds.
This week, CE Software is introducing its "QuicKeys Test Drive," an experimental marketing program that, if it works, could revolutionize the way companies publish and market products. The test drive consists of the typical "crippleware" demo disk that gives potential customers just enough of a taste of what the product can do to get them hooked, then tells them to buy the real thing at a discount.
What makes the QuicKeys Test Drive different from the ordinary demo disk, though, is that dealers who distribute the Test Drive disk receive a commission for every sale they generate. When the user calls CE's toll-free sales line, the operator asks for the serial number encoded on the disk. That number identifies the source of the disk and tells CE where to send the check.
Dealers who are otherwise reluctant to give out demo disks, fearing that customers will bypass them when buying the product, will undoubtedly be pleased with this approach, which recognizes the dealer's role in recommending or promoting the product. CE Software obviously stands to gain as well, because people who have tried the product are more likely to buy it. The end user wins too, since this promotion carries with it a discount price that brings it in line with mail-order pricing.
If you're interested in trying the latest QuicKeys, by all means give your friendly neighborhood CE Software dealer a call. You may like what you see, and if not, you may get a free blank disk out of the experience!
[It appears that the QuicKeys Test Drive software will be available in various places online, but according to Jim Sheldon-Dean, product manager for QuicKeys, since the purpose of the marketing program is to compensate resellers for lost sales, not reward the promoter, archive sites won't be able to earn money from this promotion. However, Mark and I have planted the seeds of such a concept at CE, and in the future user groups and archive sites may be able to earn money based on the number of copies of a program they recommend. I'm sure abuses could happen (such as recommending WhizzyWriter over the WriteStuff because the user group earns money for each WhizzyWriter sold to a user group member), but on the whole, I applaud CE for coming up with an innovative idea that could possibly grow into an entirely different method of software distribution. CE's technique could result in lower prices and users would have a better chance to determine if a package would fit the bill. Interesting stuff. -Adam]
Jim Sheldon-Dean, QuicKeys Product Manager