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Launch and marketing decisions for your MVP app

A guy has an idea for an app and he goes through painstaking efforts to get the thing built. He's thrilled with the product.
To his dismay, hundreds of users don't sign up. And the development portion has consumed his entire budget.

Unfortunately, this scenario happens all the time. Imagine prevailing over the trials of product-development only to quickly succumb to the marketing challenge.

On the other hand, avoiding this trap is straightforward. By marketing WHILE building your product, you can ensure customers will be ready when you launch and that you're working on the right things. Below we outline some of the best marketing techniques that you should start before launch.

Great resources: [Start Marketing the Day You Start Coding] and [Traction]

On a shoestring

The low-hanging fruit. Recommended for all budgets and no budget.

Pre-requisite: you will need a place for future users to sign-up for your product ahead of time. That can be a simple landing page, a Mailchimp list, or even just a Google Form where people can join a wait-list with their email. Product Hunt offers a free plan that includes a pre-launch wait-list page.

1. Existing community

The most economical way to get your foot in the door is to tap into an existing community. Maybe you work with a lot of technicians; it will be a lot easier to get your first users to adopt your technician app and provide useful feedback. Or if you're building a real estate platform, you could join a nearby real estate Meetup and get to know potential customers. Note: you have to truly invest in the community and try to learn about it; it looks transparent if you show up to a few meetings only to shill your app.

2. Making phone calls

Call your potential customers! If making sales calls gives you anxiety then start by just asking questions. You would be surprised at how accommodating folks can be – you need to remember that you're ultimately trying to solve a problem of theirs. We've attached a few scripts below that have worked for us in the past, with varying level of "sales energy". Your objective on each call should be to either learn new information about the market OR to get some level of commitment on your project. Ask them if you could add them to your wait-list!

Great resource: [The Mom Test] for asking the right questions.

With a small budget

Get some website visitors for a modest amount of spend.

1. Writing content and SEO

Anytime you learn something useful about your customers or industry, there's a chance others may benefit from this information. Turn your insights into divident-paying investments by writing about them! If you have a landing page, throw up a blog post. If you have a mailing list or wait-list, send out a newsletter.

We wrote a few simple guides on our Getcho Blog and within a couples months we were ranking in the top 10 on some high-volume searches. Many readers converted to paying customers.

2. Search advertising

A proper search advertising campaign can be a great bang for your buck– just see the success story below.

We recently worked with a piano teacher who, after 20 years, was struggling to attract students. He had no website or technical knowledge and we agreed to help him pro-bono. We created a basic Wordpress website with his information and a contact form– a relatively nontechnical person could probably recreate this on Squarespace for $100. We set-up a Google Adwords campaign that, over the span of two months, generated 20 leads for around $300 total. 4 leads ended up hiring him for weekly lessons, an expected lifetime value of $12,480. That's a 4,000% return on investment! His campaign worked so well that we had to pause it because he reached capacity. To top it all off, his landing page now generates organic traffic which means he doesn't have to buy ads to get visitors.

On the flip side, it's frighteningly easy to throw away money on poorly planned Adwords campaign. Start small and scale up as you find winning formulas so you don't suddenly evaporate your entire budget.

Great resources: [Udemy Google Adwords Course]

3. Social advertising

One helpful heuristic we learned from a marketing specialist is that search advertising works best when you're trying to market a product that users will be looking for, and use social advertising to get recognition for an idea that your users might not know they need yet. For our digital waiver software, Waivercat, search advertising made sense. On the other hand, when we first launched Getcho, many people didn't know on-demand delivery was a thing, so they were unlikely to be searching for a solution.

Great resources: [Social Media Advertising Resources] and [Guide to Paid Social Advertising]

All-in

Hire a marketing firm on retainer. Disclaimer: we focus on MVP launches so tend to steer clear of resource-intensive marketing campaigns.

If you're looking for immediate, explosive growth, then going all-in with a marketing firm is a viable option. Marketing firms can help you access influencers and create long-term branding campaigns. From the firms we've surveyed, the low-end investment gravitates around 10,000 USD.

Again, we don't typically hire marketing firms, but can advise you to look for someone with concrete experience in a market similar to yours. Furthermore, if you can swing an arrangement where your hire has skin in the game, that's a good sign. In other words, a firm that wins when you win is more likely to better serve you. So look for someone who's open to incentive plans weighted towards success, like a lower retainer fee with a higher success bonus.

Great resources: [How to Choose The Right Marketing Agency] and [Things to Consider When Choosing a Marketing Agency]