The other day while at the book store, I came across some accounting software CDs strewn with other CDs and books in garage sale box.
How can any self respecting businessman (even a small one at that) pick up a copy of this cheap sale accounting CD from the box for his business to use? He'd think “what type of accounting system is this that would end up in a garage sale?". . . and he's not even heard of free software yet! If he did, he'd probably figure “What type of software is this that you can just click and get it for free on the Internet?"
In most cases, this thinking “. . what type of. . ?" continues and applies to the person on the other end - the guy promoting it. It goes “what type of person are you to promote something that cheap (that ends up in a garage sale box) to me?". It follows “What type of company are you representing? Or do you even have a company?"
Even small business owners have self respect when they shop for budget items.
The guy selling free software tried “No sir. This is open source program, very popular and respectable. Do you know Apache? It's also free. . "
Businessman “You mean the one with war paint on his face fighting Custer in the movie?". Thanks to Hollywood, some things just get stereotyped.
For those of us who promote open source applications the above scenario though hilarious, is not unreal.
If we think about it, what do people actually buy from a garage sale box? Most likely something for a hobby, say something you want to learn about but a new book costs a bomb. Maybe a recipe book, taichi and of course the fast outdated tech books. We're talking about something ‘light’ or outdated that ends up in the garage sale box. Certainly not for something that's as important as accounting software for any business to use.
Perhaps open source businesses need to emphasize on the word solutions instead of free or open source. Package the software into a decent looking box. Show the customer that there are costs by itemising, ‘software cost’ foc, show a charge for download, copy, packaging, transport and include training, upgrade, email, telephone, etc support services, add them up and show a ‘total solutions’ cost. Stack the costs up against proprietory solutions and very likely open applications looks a better option for the customer. The idea is to show that there is a cost for the solution you are selling - just like any other product. The marketing campaign may be capped by putting it as a summer offer - normal say USD400 now only USD199.
James NK Khoo is the owner of Qwenkay Information http://www.qwenkay.com a company providing support for content management systems software and accounting software. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org