Dear Norm,
My software company released its first iPad app in July 2010. It's called SignMyPad, and it allows you to sign PDFs on your iPad. That means no more printing, signing, scanning, or faxing. I was hoping businesses would use it to become greener, but it seems most businesses don't care as much about that as I do. I've contacted blogs to tell them about SignMyPad, but I've yet to receive a response. How can I get my product in the public eye without breaking the bank?

Justin T. Esgar
CEO, Autriv Software Development
New York City

One of the most common mistakes you can make in business is to assume that potential customers think the way you do. In talking to Justin Esgar, I could see he was doing just that. He has had a business as an authorized Apple consultant for three years. He also cares a lot about the environment and created SignMyPad in hopes of helping to reduce the amount of paper in the world. By the time we spoke, he'd sold about 7,500 copies at $3.99 each. While that's hardly Angry Birds territory, SignMyPad does rank among the top 25 business apps for the iPad. One television network had featured it in a segment on the five best iPad apps to use with a stylus. Justin has also generated some favorable online reviews from real estate brokers, including one who said he couldn't live without SignMyPad.

I can easily understand why real estate brokers, among others, would love it, but I could also see why Justin's promotional messages might be falling on deaf ears. He had been pitching his product as a tool for going green, because it eliminates the need for paper when dealing with PDF documents that have to be signed and returned. I doubt that pitch is very effective outside the environmentalist community. For most people, I suspect, the main appeal of SignMyPad has to do with the time and money it can save—and, by the way, it's good for the environment. Not that Justin shouldn't continue to tout the green virtues of his product, but I told him he'd probably sell more copies if he treated those benefits as an add-on and focused instead on the time-saving features that almost any professional or businessperson with an iPad would gladly pay $3.99 for.

And he shouldn't limit himself to the real estate market. I suggested that law firms and accounting firms could be prime prospects for him. Stock brokerages and investment managers are also fertile territory. As part of managing my investments, I have to sign documents for my broker all the time, and it would be a lot easier if I didn't have to print and scan or fax them. Justin promised to try all these ideas—and to let us know how they worked.

Please send all questions to Norm Brodsky is a veteran entrepreneur. His co-author is editor-at-large Bo Burlingham. Their book, The Knack, is available in paperback under the title Street Smarts: An All-Purpose Tool Kit for Entrepreneurs.