Product Tips and Insights

App Awareness... Have a Plan


The reality is they won’t come and you won’t get any visibility in the now, very crowded app stores if you don’t have an awareness plan for your application.

You wouldn’t begin building a product, and remember that is what an application is, without first understanding how you were going to market it. A promotion and awareness plan for an application is critical to the business success of an application. This is true of any type of application by the way, including web, mobile and enterprise. Your plan changes based on the type of application and whether it is for an internal or external audience, but awareness is needed regardless.

We get contacted on fairly regular basis by people and companies that want to create an application. One of the first questions we ask is, “Who is the audience and how will they know the application exists?” This question is of particular importance for external audiences, but is also applicable for larger enterprises and internal audiences. One recent response we received was, “I will put it the app stores.” That was it. Surprisingly or maybe not so, many people believe the awareness and distribution of an application is easy.

Distribution is Easy, Awareness is Isn’t.

People are probably right from a distribution perspective. It is relatively easy and inexpensive to make an application available to users. There are a lot of hosting options for web applications. There are the cloud options now like Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Azure that charge based on your application use. And of course there are app stores for mobile apps. There are enterprise app stores too. There are a myriad of proven ways to get your application to users, there isn’t a template for promoting your application.

Awareness isn’t easy, especially if you are creating an application for external users that you don’t control. It’s noisy out there in application land and applications are getting more niche. Who knew there would be so many applications just to help us manage our email inbox? You need a comprehensive marketing and awareness plan for your application. Because there isn’t a tried and true method for promoting your application, your marketing and awareness plan will depend on your resources, the application and your audience.

Know Your Audience.

Your marketing and awareness plan should start with who you are trying to reach. Who are your users? What applications are they using now? Who and what are they paying attention to? Why will they care about your application? You get the point.
Once you’ve defined your audience, what is your message to them, how will they see and receive it, and what is your call to action to get them using your application?

If your users are internal, how will you make them aware of the application and train them? Will you schedule a face-to-face meeting or just send an email with a link to the application and login credentials?

Rinse and Repeat

There is an old marketing adage about people needing to see an ad a zillion times before it resonates and they act. We don’t know about you, but we don’t have the patience for that. You do have to be realistic that your marketing and awareness plan probably won’t have millions of users lined up outside your virtual door on your first pass. How will you sustain the effort in an effective and elegant way over time to meet your user goals? You will need some ongoing strategies and campaigns that are compelling enough to entice action.

Avoid the Application Graveyard.

Not having a marketing and awareness plan for your application will help your application stay out of the application graveyard. Applications end up in the graveyard because they either miss the mark from a user value perspective or because not enough people know the application exists and how it could help them. Don’t be a build-and-hope application owner. Plan your application awareness.

Ryan Frederick
Ryan Frederick has had the privilege of being part of several startups and growth companies. He has helped companies grow from inception, to viability, through to sustainability. During the evolution of these companies, Ryan as served on company boards and been instrumental in capitalization activities. He has also helped companies to expand to international markets. Ryan brings a unique blend of business acumen and technical knowledge to help companies and clients achieve their objectives. He enjoys the process and challenge of starting and growing a company. Ryan (@ryanfrederick) is a Principal at AWH (@awhnet), Director for Startup Grind (@startupgrind | @startupgrindcmh), Chairman i.c.stars|*COLUMBUS (@icstarscolumbus), Co-founder (@black_hack) and leader ProductCamp & ProductTank Columbus.

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