About two years ago, my family and I put up a bird feeder so we could watch birds in our backyard. At first we had no birds. Zip. Nada. We hoped and prayed and did a little marketing by putting seeds all around it on the ground with aluminum foil. Birds are attracted by aluminum foil they say because it is shiny. Eventually a bird came after a few weeks. We were so excited! Then another bird came a few days later. And then another. At some point, the birds chirping after getting some yummy bird food alerted other birds in the area. You might call it Word of Beak. Then we had lots of birds coming (and one hungry and crafty squirrel who later tired of climbing the house I think.) So everyone’s happy – the birds are eating and we’re getting to watch birds up close. It was one of those clear, see-through bird feeders that you attach to your window.

Then we accidentally hit it and it fell and broke. No more birds.

Good news though: we recently bought a new one just like it, but better. It’s clearer and stronger. I thought, ok we’re in for another long period before we see a lot of birds again. But actually a few birds showed up the first day we put it up even though it had been gone for a few weeks. That was surprising! It seems that the bird feeder had earned a reputation! Within a week, we’re back up to full capacity and having to replace the bird food every few days.

So what does that have to do with anything? Well, I think this is a good analogy for how a software business works. The birdseed is your software product. The birds are the users.

At first, most people won’t know you exist no matter how good your marketing may be. But the early adopters (the early birds) will find you and eat your BirdSeed 1.0. If it’s good, they’ll tell people about it either on VersionTracker or MacUpdate or on their blog. That’s as sweet as a bird song. Because then other people will eventually notice and then try your app. But it can take a long time, so you have to have patience. Everyone is busy and you’re competing with a thousand other things to do on their schedule.

The new and improved bird feeder? That’s your 2.0. If you make it to 2.0, then your bird feeder will have been around for a while and people will know that this has got some quality bird seed in it. At this point, I think marketing gets a little easier. All due to a lot of Word of Beak.