Review of “MicroISV sites that sell”

Image courtesy of Simple Dolphin @ flickr     Image courtesy of Simple Dolphin @ flickr


     One of the recommendations from Brian Tracy’s “Psychology of Achievement” is to invest 3% of your take-home pay on yourself in the form of education – conferences, books, audio tapes, networking events etc.  So, since the start of this year I’ve been doing just that.  

     On St Patrick’s day,  Bob Walsh at had a half-price sale on his ebook “MicroISV sites that sell – Creating and Marketing your Unique Selling Proposition” .  Bob runs a sucessful MicroISV, moderates Joel Spolsky’s  Business of Software forum, and provides consulting advice to small businesses. He also runs the “MicroISV Digest” blog which is a great resource for new product information and ideas related to MicroISVs (Independant Software Vendors).

     I’ll preface this review by making it clear that I was not a big fan of ebooks. I had the preconceived idea that ebooks are generally sold by dodgy SEO types looking to scam people out of their money with stolen content, or sell scraped-together half-baked ideas using concepts from Tim Ferriss’  “Four hour workweek” to market products without ever really having much soul in the idea.  Bob had built up enough credibility and goodwill with me from his MicroISV digest, and after reading the book I was glad that I took the leap.

     At some indeterminate point before managing a software company Bob was a reporter, and this is evident in the quality and clarity of his writing.  Fluff about his writing style aside, the content is on-point, succinct, and very practical.

      The book starts off with some basic mistakes that developers make when trying to convince customers to buy their product, and hammers home the point that people visiting a website have absolutely no emotional attachment to your product whatsoever. You might have spent several months of late nights polishing a masterpiece, but to them it’s just another widget on the internet. If you don’t make it clear why they’d want to buy your product, or if you make them jump through hoops to get at a demo they’re just going to escape (possibly into the arms of your competitors).

   After running through this list of top mistakes,  the book focuses on developing your unique selling proposition and provides a series of excellent questionaires to determine exactly who your product is aimed at.  Following up on this checklist, he delivers a very practical guide to what a customer is looking for in a site, from their initial impression right through to a compelling call to action that results in a sale. The USP is developed critically, ensuring that you’re concentrating on a very specific niche market and that you are targeting your product at how this user persona thinks.

    After reviewing and critiquing five successful MicroISV sites the book finishes up with some practical exercises and a final checklist to allow you to evaluate your own site.  I couldn’t find fault with this book, and was engaged throughout. The writing style is light and cleverly targeted at a technical audience who want to market their software, even using code analogies to push the message across.  A full table of contents is available at the bottom of the author’s ebook page.

    Does it deliver any value? Well, I’m now seeing product websites through a different set of eyes – the first thing I did after reading the book was come up with a checklist of changes for a site I work on, and sent out some pestering emails.







Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *