I have had the pleasure of meeting founders who were certain that their products or apps are the next big thing. And even though all of them had amazing ideas, many were lacking in one particular but crucial area – distribution.
Having a great product and finding its market is definitely the first obvious step, and almost all founders are aware of this. However, it is the next step that’s often neglected as it is outside of their comfort zone – and that is the go-to-market that will get their product on users’ devices.
Some founders believe that when they reach a certain number of users, i.e. 20,000, they will all find each other and get a value. Although that may be the case, your product still needs to reach those 20,000 people. Unfortunately, that is easier said than done.
3 Common Misconceptions
Google didn’t use distribution or marketing, so why should I?
First of all, you are not Google. Secondly, they didn’t just wait around to be discovered. Google powered Yahoo search and paid PC markers to install the toolbar. And they still do. So even they had to use distribution and marketing.
My product is good and unique
Founders often overestimate their product’s uniqueness and value. So, you have to ask yourself – do your customers really need the product? And how often will they use it? If they will use it once every 2-4 months, your product needs to cost a fortune and do something like curing people before it gets downloaded.
Going viral will be easy once I get a thousand users
Having 1,000 users doesn’t mean your product will go viral in a second, and you’ll be lucky if 100 users share it. But then, sharing something on Social Media doesn’t mean it will become popular at all. Just ask yourself this question – when was the last time you downloaded an app you saw on your friend’s wall? Going viral takes a lot more time and effort, but in the end, it's achievable.
Now that we know why distribution is essential to our company’s success. But also distribution can’t be done without a great product. It is time to break it down to the smallest layers.
Distribution Boils Down to Three Questions:
I. Who exactly am I going after?
Defining your model user in as much detail as possible is the first step, and in most cases, the first mistake founders make. Answers like “start-ups” or “consumers” are just not specific enough.
If you are targeting consumers, you need to define what type of consumers you are going after and what their specific needs are.
A good example of this would be our company Saleduck. We target people from ten smaller Europe markets who are shopping online and are looking for coupons and discounts. Even as small as the France speaking part of Switzerland (Romandy wikipedia) where we are the only online coupon website for a population of two million (mostly wealthy) people.
Having the specific target is 50% of the puzzle.
II. How can I get to them?
The next step is getting to your target, and this is the time to get creative. The common solutions like hiring a sales guy or having an advisor who’ll do PR don’t cut it anymore. You need to build the bridge between your product and customers.
For example, if you are targeting the consumer audience you have to at least have the following things:
- A landing page to draw traffic and get people to sign up for your product (also before launch)
- A blog that your brand ambassadeurs/customers can read to stay up to date
- Access to some popular bloggers/influencers who will spread good words about your product
- Social media channels where you can promote your product
Of course, these are just the basics on digital marketing, and the more original ideas you implement, the better chances of attracting your potential customer you’ll have. Please remember that having a foundation for distribution before you build the product is the key to overall success.
III. How can I light a fire?
We finally came to the moment when your product steps in. Now is the time to shine and show everyone just how unique and necessary your product is. With millions of people racing for the same attention you want, you have to light the fire. That basically means that your product must provide a mind-blowing experience that won’t be forgotten any time soon.
Long gone are the days when “cool” was good enough. Today, cool will bring you maybe a thousand customers. So basically, your product must make people money, solve problems, kill boredom, create breathtaking experience, save time or be so unique that people have never seen it, but want to be a part of it.
I’ve seen many people reaching 10,000 users in a relatively short period of time, but then they simply got stuck and eventually bankrupted. However, I’ve also seen some people reaching the same number of users before their product went viral. So you have to ask the simple question – why did they succeed? And the answer is: Their product was so good that most of the users recommended it to their friends and family, and soon enough it had 100,000+ users.
In the end it all comes down to the basics – your product has to have an amazing value with great distribution or you will fail. It’s simple as that. You can have great marketing tricks and ideas, but if your product isn’t good enough, there is no way you’ll succeed. So be specific in figuring out who your targeting audience is, build the bridge between your product and your customers and create a product that is so amazing that it lights a fire.