Startup founders always have a tremendous amount of energy along with an abundance of enthusiasm. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being excited about launching a new product! It’s the excitement that helps the business grow. However, various challenges come unexpectedly. Here are our words of wisdom that will very well save you precious time, energy, and money as you prepare to unleash your product on the world.
Take Advantage of FREE Resources
It’s not enough to subscribe to every major tech newsletter as you go about building your app. You may be surprised at how much free information is right at your fingertips.
Start by doing a Google search for your type of app to see what brands and products are showing up prominently. Search for the best of whatever app it is you’re planning to make (e.g., “best hotel finder apps”), which will likely put more reviews and user comments in your search results, which can also be a valuable source of info for you. Check out details such as:
• Features on similar products
• User comments for those products
• How those products are promoted online to give you some ideas for how you might market your app in advance of its debut
Another option is to go to App Store or Google Play Store to search for keywords related to your app to see what comes up. Do this on your desktop PC as well to get a broader range of results since mobile searchers are often relegated to detected geographic location. Explore applications similar to yours and make notes of:
• What you like about the design
• Features you don’t like
• Any obvious design flaws or limitations
Don’t forget to include Google AdWords in your arsenal of free sources of information. Use AdWords Keyword Planner to put in keywords or phrases related to your product. What you’ll get is a list of terms people are using to find products like yours and the various bid rates associated with those conditions. This info will come in handy with your marketing efforts later.
Explore What’s Going On Within Your Niche or Product Space
Explore What’s Going On Within Your Niche or Product Space
After you’ve gathered as much initial free data as you can, focus your attention on your particular niche or industry. Do additional research to find out how other startups with products in the your space got funded. Look for case studies about successful startups within your niche to see what obstacles they faced and how they overcame them. Further dive into the details about other app founders and their companies to find out the following tidbits:
• Who is getting the most press within your niche? (and why?)
• What pain points are they addressing?
• What are other startups in your niche (your soon-to-be competitors) saying on their blogs, podcasts, or videos about what’s going on in your industry?
Find Creative Ways to Seek Input and Early Feedback
Instead, find creative ways to solicit input from potential customers. You may be able to get feedback for free, but you’re more likely get people to pay attention to you for more than two seconds if you offer a dollars or cup of coffee for their time. When you do ask for input, consider doing it like this:
• Explain what type of app you are creating and what problem it will solve.
• Explain your solution.
• Ask if they would honestly use such a product.
If you’re not thrilled about going up to random strangers, consider setting up a blog specifically to solicit feedback. The plus side of doing this is that you can get more structured feedback and even take the opinions you get to make a spreadsheet to compare what people like about your idea and where they say there’s room for improvement. There are also plenty of online communities startups routinely use to get feedback to test an idea before fully diving into the development process.
Do Some Free Social Media Polling
Continuing with the input and feedback theme…why not do some online polling? And, yes, it’s also something you can do for free. This can be as simple as setting up a Twitter poll or using your existing Facebook page to poll your social followers. Give a summary of your idea and ask everyone what they think. People tend to love giving advice online, so you’ll get some opinions.
You may be thinking, “Yeah, but my followers aren’t my target audience for my product,” and this is true. But the odds are good that the same first impression your concept makes on your followers will be very similar to what your intended users would have to say if you asked them — and it’s a lot better to be getting this data early in your development process rather than after you have launched.
Feel free to make your polling more official by creating a simple form with tools like Google Forms or Survey Monkey. Making forms allows you to ask more questions at once, although you should still get useful feedback regardless of how you go about conducting your poll.
After You’re Confident About Your Idea, Get Started with Marketing
Alright, so now you have confidence in your idea after you’ve solicited a ton of feedback, done some polling, and sorted through survey responses. The next step is to build a basic landing page devoted to your new product. If you already have a presence on Facebook, use targeted Facebook ads to direct followers who happen to fit into your target audience to your new landing page. As long as you have a landing page setup, consider using it to cultivate an email mailing list.
All the people you get to sign up for your email mailing list while your product is still in the beta stage can be a possible source of potential users when your product is officially launched. Go a step further and use your email mailing list to send your recipients updates on your product’s progress. It’s a great way to build excitement for what you’ll be offering while also establishing relationships. Don’t forget to set up analytics for your landing pages to track your traffic to see where your engagement is coming from and how much interest you’re generating online.
See How Your Target Audience Reacts with Test Campaigns
Okay, now you can use that data you gathered earlier with your keyword research to run some paid ad campaigns. Use these ads to direct your intended audience to your landing page. Again, this is a good way to start building a customer base before you officially launch your app. Consider adding Google Analytics data to your AdWords reports so you can track your organic and paid traffic. Besides, getting into the habit of fine-tuning your data will make it easier to track your online efforts after your product launches.
Seek Advice from Experts
You may not be able to pick Bill Gates’ brain or ask Mark Zuckerberg for personal pointers, but there are many other accessible experts out there within your industry or niche. These aren’t potential users of your product, but they are people who know what it takes to go from concept to creation successfully. But how do you find experts? Start with a Google search to get some names and make a list. You should be able to get email addresses on their LinkedIn profile pages at least.
Introduce yourself and briefly explain what your product is. Use your initial email just as an introduction. Politely ask if they would mind discussing your product and offering some advice. When you get responses back, either continue with email conversations or do a live video chat to get some input. Also, check out any articles your preferred experts posted online for further guidance.
It’s the belief in what you’re doing that will get you through some of the not-so-pleasant times and the various challenges you’re likely to face. Be persistent as you build your product, and realize that you will have to sacrifice things like beer and pizza night and even some sleep now and then. You’re going to be busy solving new problems every day, so focus on those tasks. Keep in mind startups are risky — and statistically, the odds are against you, and there’s no way to know for sure how consumers will react to your product. Before you start rethinking the whole startup thing, also remember that consistently testing your idea throughout the development and building process can boost your odds of becoming a success story.