How to achieve maximum impact of promotional free software
October 21, 2016 8:08 AM   Subscribe

We are getting ready to release a free standalone CAD software. It is a downloadable product, does not run in a web browser (not like the more typical startup SAAS offers). Our company intends to sell an API library and consulting services using said API. The API was used to build the CAD software.

This CAD software is not like AutoCAD, there is some competition but it is not an overly-saturated field and still kind of new and exciting. Other than posting links to forums on related topics, linkedIn groups, twitter and other social media, blog posts, link aggregators, youTube videos,meetups, trade shows, what other venues for promoting this downloadable software do you recommend?
posted by spacefire to Work & Money (2 answers total)
You mention youtube videos, but what would be better than videos that your company makes would be videos made by the folks in the "maker" community that already have good followings.

Do what you can to get some youtube famous makers to 1.) try it your software, and even better 2.) make tutorial/demo videos with it. From what I understand, most people who are trying to make a living from youtube are amenable to transparent sponsored content work. From my point of view, I'm unlikely (see below) to watch a video made by [CAD Corp], but if Bob Claggett posts a video that walks through doing a project with [Product], I'd be interested in his take (even if I know [CAD Corp] paid him to do it).

Regardless of whether they come from [CAD Corp] or the maker community, have lots and lots of demo/tutorial/walkthrough content available. Think about the pipelines in which users will be using the software, and make content that walks them through every step. For example, people like 3D printing stuff, but figuring out which software and settings to use for what can be a hassle. You could have a tutorial that walks through designing a widget with [Product], uploading it to Shapeways or similar, and getting the physical object in the mail. Or, for the more advanced, walk through how [Product] integrates with tools people might already have like Makerbots or Glowforges or other CNC/3D printing solutions.

Can you sponsor some projects to get school-kids doing stuff that uses [Product]? Find a school/teacher that might be interested, and buy them the hardware necessary to do some neat stuff with their kids (bonus: you might be able to get some good content for demo videos out of this too). Maybe put together packages that make it easier for schools to get kids using [Product] even without direct sponsorship (lesson plans, etc.)

Similarly, most maker-spaces I know of don't have crazy huge budgets, so if you put together some class content and gave free seminars (maybe even backed with some kind of sweetener -- maybe not a free 3d printer, but some service you could offer the maker-space free for a limited time or something), you could help build interest.

I said above that I'm unlikely to watch a [CAD Corp] video, but I do like to watch videos about the making of cool things. Make cool things with [Product], and make videos about how you did it.
posted by sparklemotion at 8:44 AM on October 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

Are there relevant conferences? It's really hard to get people to care unless you can show them something compelling and try to get a committment. Ususually you have to become a sponsor to get a spot like that.
posted by wnissen at 3:04 PM on October 21, 2016

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