This column ran in Computers Currents in 1985! Yes, I found a disk full of very old material. What is interesting to me is that are some old references in here and ideas that make no sense today. But, again, it was written in 1985. Rather than re-write the old gags, I thought you might enjoy the dated material.

Seven Tips for Success

Every so often the computer business goes into a slump and everyone sees nothing but doom and gloom all around. A few hapless souls decide that they’ll use a consultant to help them get out of the doldrums. They hope that a consultant (who is usually out of work because of bad decisions) will give them the one vital piece of information which will turn their company around and make them rich.

Consultants fees range from $200 and hour and up. This isn’t cheap and the consultants usually bill a minimum of 4 hours. In an effort to save my readers some hard earned bucks, I have collected the wisdom of the top hardware and software consultants and I’m giving it away free. These are the top 7 ideas from consultants on how to get rich in this business.

Idea #1 -Easy Money Add-on Ploy.
Develop a portable computer with an unreadable flat-panel display. Make sure to phoney-up the display for any advertisements so it looks readable. The potential for extra profits from add-on monitors improves as the readability of the flat-panel deteriorates. There is good money in add-ons.

Idea #2 -Free Publicity Gambit
Develop some software for the IBM PC which is memory resident (background task). This means that the software sits permanently in memory and fights with other background tasks like Borlands Sidekick for hegemony. With an onslaught of memory-resident utilities there will be nothing but problems. These problems will get a lot of press and you’ll be quoted. Say, “The other software companies don’t know how to write software correctly. Besides that, we were here first.” Sales will boom.

Idea#3 -Documentation Scam
Far too many software companies attempt to make their documentation readable and useful. This is the biggest blunder a company can make. The recommended approach is to start a publishing company which sells readable documentation to supplement the bad documentation provided with the product. This is the way to make those extra profits.

Idea #4 -Packaging Ploy
The key to success in the software business is elaborate packaging. The old saying, “KISS-Keep it simple, stupid!” was created to fool the naive. In reality you want to confuse the buyer with as much bulk and gimmicks as possible. Design your software package with a crank handle on the side. When you crank the handle a song is played and soon a clown pops out of the box with a diskette in its mouth. We’re talking merchandising here.

Idea #5 -Venture Capital Sycophant Concept

The best way to make money in this industry is to never sell a product, but instead “think big.” You think so big that a product could never fulfill your big thinking. Big thinking causes a gush of excitement to spring from the venture capital community. “Gosh he sure thinks big. I like that,” they’ll say. And they’ll give you millions which you can spend on cars and Hillsborough homes.

Idea #6 -Quick Draw McGraw
The simple technique of copy-cat marketing never seems to work quite right. Right now everyone is copying the Philippe Kahn low-ball marketing scheme that he uses, but it may be too late. Where were the copycats a year ago? That’s the point: if you’re going to copy somebody, do it sooner than later. If anyone shows any sign of success, then copy them whatever they do. Let the suckers blaze the trails.

Idea #7 -Keep it a Secret

If you have a really good product, you’ll never have to market it because the world will beat a path to your door. That’s a known fact. It always seems to fail because some word of the product finally gets out and the buyer gets suspicious. The latest theory is that if you have a dynamite product keep it a secret. When customers ask about it, say you don’t know anything. Soon they’ll be begging for it and they’ll create a pull through demand that will have the stores calling you. But hold your ground and say nothing.

Let me know how these techniques work for you. I see that a lot of companies have talked to these same consultants.



  1. fw says:

    seems like most still are used. 🙂

  2. bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist says:

    Yeap==anyone want to ID what doesn’t make any sense today?

    #5 is a bit vague but I assume by “Never sell anything” they mean license it?…..Naw not really. #5 is more a hit on the consulting business which is still true today/always. Don’t offer anything that you can be held to?

    Does seem stilted in a way I don’t have the energy to further parse.

  3. ECA says:

    #8
    SELL, classes…
    2/3 of those in class wont understand anything, as they DONT USE the computer enough..
    teach the OLD HARD WAY of doing things as its NOT pertenant to NEW SOFTWARE..

  4. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know what’s so “dated”. (Most of) that advice seems to have worked for Apple – particularly Idea #4.

  5. deowll says:

    Not really. Steve Jobs was a fan of Spartan simplicity.


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