You might recognize Max Foundry as the group that previously released Landing Page, a paid plugin, and free WordPress starter kits. Dave Donaldson, one of the folks behind Max Foundry let us in on the story behind their latest experiment. In order to allow for more potential users to test out their paid plugins, in this case Landing Page and Sales Page, they released free versions on the WordPress.org directory. Don’t bother searching them out, though. They pulled them because while the free versions were online, no one was purchasing their commercial versions.
Donaldson said the decision to release a version of the plugin for free came when potential customers inquired about a demo:
We’ve been asked by a few people interested in the premium versions if there was a way to demo the plugins before spending money on them, so this is our answer. We figured we might well give people a taste and let them try-before-they-buy.
The free versions released to the directory had the same functionality as their paid counterparts, but fewer template options than the full version. Interested customers could test drive the plugin from the directory, the idea being that they would pick up the full versions afterward. But after only a week with the plugins on the directory though, Donaldson noticed that sales weren’t happening:
Well, it turned out that while our free plugins were on wordpress.org, we didn’t have any sales for our commercial versions. We put out the free versions in hopes to simply give people a taste of the full versions, but the approach seemed to backfire. Sure enough, not long after we pulled the free plugins from wordpress.org, we started seeing sales come through again.
The free versions are no longer in the directory. Instead, the Max Foundry team plans to demonstrate the plugins using short screencasts on their site.
How would you go about promoting a paid plugin? Are screencasts and demo videos the only way to go?