“Build it and they will come” was a phrase coined during the dotcom boom to capture the thinking that led to the failure of hundreds of web-based businesses in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The same could be said today for the many app developers who believe that all they need to do is stick their app on the App Store and people will flock to it. That thinking is true of many startups, not just app businesses. It’s a strange anomaly, but in all the heady excitement of starting a business, many entrepreneurs fall so deeply in love with their product that they forget about marketing.

Yet today’s customers have so many choices, their eyeballs are tired from being blasted with marketing messages and Facebook posts all day long. How will you ensure yours is the business they’ll visit, spend time with, and buy from?

How do you give your startup the best chance of success?

The first steps in building a successful product were discussed in our previous blog post. Now we’ll look at what happens when the rubber hits the road – how will you generate that much-needed traction?

We know time and resources are short in a lean startup, but there are some marketing basics that will help kick-start your new product or service in the market. The aim is to give you a good foundation to communicate and work with your in-house marketing manager or marketing consultant.

Brand Salience

Brand salience – the ability to make your brand “mentally and physically available” to a potential customer – is an important concept in marketing. Your product or service needs to be an “easy” choice, (mentally available) for customers in their decision making process; and it needs to be in front of them (physically available) when they are looking for a solution.

Is your product “mentally available”?

Are you conveying to your customers that your solution is the answer to their problem or need?

This is where your brand becomes your messenger. Your branding must do the talking for you:

  • Does it respond to the common objections customers have in your industry?
  • Does it appear easy to purchase and use?
  • Is the language you use easy to understand for your potential customers?
  • Is your brand “human” and approachable?
  • Is your message aligned with industry leaders – someone your customers can trust?

Communicating your brand is not a matter of stating everything bluntly; your brand message and values need to be subtly woven into the words you use, your advertising methods and above all, your images.

Is your product “physically available”?

“Physically availability” simply means you need to be in the mix of potential candidates when the customer is “in the market” making their selection. Typically, this means advertising, of which there are two types: push and pull.

Push advertising is used to capture customers who may not be actively looking for your solution. Let’s say a customer is reading through a magazine and comes across a great special for carpet cleaning, this may spark some interest and result in a lead. Push advertising also helps to build your brand profile. (Brand profile is another important area of marketing which we’ll cover another time.)

Pull advertising is when your customer has a problem and is searching for a solution. For example, if you have an issue scheduling staff, you might type “scheduling software” into Google and see ads by Axios and others. To take advantage of this moment, pull advertising requires you to be in the list of potential vendors, with a message that makes you stand out from the crowd.

Your budget

When building a business budget, many people assume marketing and sales make up a small percentage of the overall budget. The reality is that 20-30% of the company’s total spend needs to be invested to keep the momentum of the business moving forward.

Here’s a quick summary of the typical marketing mix in a modern business with an online store or office:

  • Website and SEO – start with a basic site that looks great and tells people about your product/service
  • Google AdWords – pull advertising
  • Google re-targeting banner ads – push and pull advertising
  • Print media – push advertising but not suitable for all industries, proceed with care as it’s easy to blow your budget for little return
  • PR and Media Communication – push advertising and brand awareness
  • Other advertising media such as TV and Radio – these are harder to get right and require a marketing professional to determine if they will be of value to your company

Last points to consider

While getting the message right is important, the polish and professionalism of the delivery is equally important. Consider getting a professional graphic designer to do all of the design work. For app development, use a firm like Axios that is experienced in the whole commercialisation process.

Any app development you do should also be with a provider that is familiar with the commercialisation process.

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