An area where the majority of developers fail is either not marketing their app or believing that marketing doesn’t begin until an app is approved for the App Store. In many ways, the reality is that getting your app approved by Apple should be a climax of your marketing efforts. To be more than just another developer on the App Store, you’re going to need to embrace the idea that marketing evolves along with the development of your app.
In this chapter, you’ll explore:
The five phases of your marketing crescendo
Developing your app communication channels (Phases 1–3)
How to find and successfully engage bloggers and press outlets (Phase 4)
Launching your app once it is approved (Phase 5)
Hopefully, you’ve been paying attention and you arrived here from Chapter 1 or Chapter 3 and not from the preceding chapter. I placed this topic near the end of the book because your marketing-related activities will hit one of their first peaks when your app finally launches—but this will occur only if you began your marketing efforts at the outset of your development process.
“Process” is a critical concept, and it’s fair to apply it also to how you will approach marketing. This implies that marketing is not about one or two magical actions that will somehow shoot your app to the top of the App Store charts. Instead, it’s an ongoing investment that parallels development; like the building of your app, marketing incorporates your customers.
Although I may be overgeneralizing, my instinct is that most of you don’t have access to a massive marketing engine that you’ll engage when your app is launched. Even if you do, trusting that engine to simply “will” your app to succeed is naïve and foolish. As first mentioned in Chapter 2, few companies can build products (not just apps) without the involvement of customers and not face negative consequences. The risk of an app failing is already high for developers who do not incorporate customers into the development process. That risk can be increased, however, by not including customers and then pursuing a huge marketing blitz once an app is approved.
The App Store contains examples of highly polished apps that were created by talented and hard-working developers but that ultimately floundered. The reasons were simple: the developers didn’t validate their ideas with their customers and they proceeded with significant marketing launches. By not engaging customers early in the process and then relying on their brands and high-profile contacts to be successful, they ultimately wasted a significant amount of time and money.
If you are working within a larger organization that has a marketing department, I still encourage you to review this material. You should share the ideas in this chapter with your colleagues and work with them to keep your app’s development and marketing in sync.
Obviously, attention for your app is a good thing. In fact, your goal will be to see a flurry of excitement when your app is finally approved. The difference is that the core of the excitement for your app should always be generated by customers. Even if your app is reviewed by bloggers and more traditional media outlets, the buzz from those sites will eventually decrease and more likely become nonexistent. Customers who are excited, engaged, and passionate about your app—because of their influence in the development of it—will be the ones who continue to help promote you well after the media is done with their “scoops.”
There’s no shortage of people claiming new and “better” ways of marketing. A handful of fads over the past decade, in no particular order, include social media marketing, word-of-mouth marketing, integrated marketing communications (say that three times fast!), search engine marketing, guerrilla marketing, marketing as storytelling, and email marketing. I’ll assume for the moment that those who promote these ideas actually believe in them and are not simply trying to profit off the marketing flavor of the month.
Operating under that assumption, what’s evident is that practitioners continue to look for new methods of marketing because at some point marketing begins to lose its effectiveness. Consider, for example, the amount of money that has moved from print newspapers, radio, and television to online media such as search engine marketing. I won’t provide you with the specific numbers, but as an example, think about all the stories you’ve heard about newspapers that have shut down, moved online, or cut back to weekly publishing schedules in the past two or three years.
The point is that in this 24/7, always-on world, consumers are more rapidly adapting to—and consequently ignoring—new and existing marketing innovations. Put simply, consumers don’t want to be “marketed to” (do you?). They don’t have the time or energy to be bothered with marketing...especially uninteresting, boring, or annoying marketing.
Now that you have that context, I’m not going to join in the marketing soup and outline a new theory or philosophy of marketing for you. I’m not even going to suggest that marketing your app is exceptionally different from marketing other types of new products. Instead, I’m going to focus on an extremely tactical marketing process that is proven in the App Store and beyond. As usual, it starts and ends with focusing on your customers.
This chapter is unique in that I reference it throughout the book. Depending on where you are in the development process, you will continue to revisit this chapter based on my guidance and undertake marketing efforts at the same time your app is being built.
I really want to encourage you not to think about development and marketing tasks as being distinct. Building an app that is driven by customer input will make marketing your app much easier. Conversely, marketing your app—the way it’s laid out in this chapter—will give you insight into how to make your app better.
Throughout the book, I specifically direct you to individual phases of the marketing process outlined in this chapter. Still, I recommend that you peruse the remainder of the chapter to be completely familiar with all the elements involved in this process.