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Do I really need to pay for the marketing of my new mobile app?

We are close to releasing our first app, a social one related to transportation.
My question is do we need to pay for a marketing team when the team already contains a group of competent marketing majors from my university. Further we have the university system as the base to validate our concepts before we move to the larger population as a whole.

Why would I pay someone to do something that we can already do on Twitter, Instagram, Google search. This is my initiation into this market so i'm sure you are sensing some naivety but I am quite confident in the capital conservative approach since I believe the app will spread like wildfire anyways from word of mouth.

29 Replies

Michael Meinberg
7
0
Michael Meinberg Entrepreneur
Teacher (iOS Development) at The Mobile Makers Academy (A Hack Reactor School)
Man, I hope it does for you. That certainly is the best avenue if it does spread real well. The reality is, though, that very, very few apps spread quickly without at least one push, whether that is with capital (buying eyeballs) or with sweat (pushing it on social media and PR work yourself).

It is that there are so many apps out there that you get lost in the shuffle, even if the idea is good.

Michael Meinberg
iChoice App Design
John Seiffer
4
0
John Seiffer Advisor
Business Advisor to growing companies
You've fallen into what I call the "bootstrapper's trap" thinking that if you can do something yourself or with your team, there's no cost to it.

At the beginning of any company, it only cost you time not dollars to do things. But if you are successful and the company scales you'll have to hire people to do most (if not all) of the things you're doing. If you don't build the market value of what that costs into your business model then you'll either have to stay small to stay profitable, OR you'll make mistakes in pricing, cash allocation etc that might cause you to fail.
Chris Gorges
6
0
Chris Gorges Entrepreneur • Advisor
Partner, Strategy at Rocketure
Agree strongly with both of the points above. A couple of points / questions:
  • What exactly do you mean by "pay for a marketing team"? Do you mean hiring a CMO, hiring a brand strategy firm, hiring an advertising agency...?
  • When you say you "have the university system as the base to validate" -- has your university system already adopted and proven out the concept / adoption? Have you accurately and appropriately tracked all metrics of usage and adoption?
  • What is that "something that you can already do on [social media]"? If you mean PR in this case (coverage in Mashable, TechCrunch, TheNextWeb, etc), you can hustle to make those connections, but to John's point, you may be burning valuable time that your team should be focusing elsewhere, when an outsourced resource could have done it much more thoroughly and efficiently, and in a more appropriately-targeted way.
  • You say your team can handle "Google search" -- if your team has an SEO expert, that's outstanding and a huge leg up -- but if not, you may be missing out on an important opportunity. OR on the other hand, you may be inappropriately allocating resources -- who actually finds a social transportation app via search and downloads it? I would venture to guess few, but I'm not an expert on that, and haven't done the research.
  • Lastly, if you're quite confident that the app will spread like wildfire, I'd love to check it out as a beta tester to get ahead of the market. Do you have influencers who will lead this word-of-mouth charge?
Bahiyah Yasmeen Robinson
2
0
Strategic Marketing, Biz Dev + Communications for Innovators and Enterprises in Tech, Media and The Arts (US-AFRICA)
Agreed with all the above. The bottom line is, as a startup founder, you need to use your money and time wisely. This means having an expert (or expert team) build a brand identity and marketing strategy for your startup, including the how and why users (and investors) should care about your product, how it's differentiated in the market, what market opportunities you have that may be of no or little cost.

After that, you can start testing which types of marketing campaigns work with your various target user groups online and offline- this is where data analysis and SEO is so important. A clear marketing strategy gives you a framework to test and build out which levers will get you to the fastest and most sustainable user acquisition, and will create some loyalty within your user base.

To John's point, you also have to think about sustainability - if you haven't trained your staff and have some sort of marketing infrastructure in place and you grow quickly in the first 12 months, how will you sustain and build on that growth? Many startup founders miss the boat when it comes to really understanding their market position and user behavior. In order to be thorough and wow your Series A/B investors, you will have to make a strong case that outlines what the marketing challenges were, how you solved them, and how they'll inform the future growth of your company.
Steve Everhard
0
0
Steve Everhard Advisor
All Things Startup
If you are confident, why are you asking this question? Clearly you are concerned that you are missing something in your strategy. I have no idea what your bench strength is in marketing amongst you "team of marketing majors" and much will depend on their proven campaign experience rather than their academic success.

Of course you can do it yourself. Do you have the time and runway to make mistakes?There was a time when companies could flail around for a bit trying different marketing strategies, campaigns and mechanics whilst they built their brand position, but this generally isn't the case now.

There is a lot to be said for marketeers who have honed their chops and proven their impact. It doesn't mean cookie cutter solutions but knowing what fundamental questions to ask about your approach, the market, your brand position and values. Be careful that you don't allow arrogance to override opportunity. Good luck
Steven Rahseparian
2
0
Steven Rahseparian Entrepreneur
Founder & Chief Executive Officer at Secured Universe
I think you answered your own question. :-) It may make sense to get an Advisor on board that can fill the gaps where your team needs help.
Brian Gilley
0
0
Brian Gilley Entrepreneur
Director, Technical SEO at Adapt Partners
I would go with an outside firm, like several others mentioned above.

To add, if it were me I would ask or evaluate what successes, failures, and real life experience the marketing majors you have access to have had in the search, app, and social niches.

I would ask myself things like:

1) Have they only worked on University-type projects or external projects, like apps?
2) How knowledgeable are my majors with tracking of KPIs or dissecting Analytics and other critical social and app tracking tools to get key points of data to act on?
3) How successful are they (providing samples) with content creation or content marketing?

Marketing apps are also a completely different beast versus normal search, as you probably well know. Marketing to the correct people and mediums for a transportation app versus a game or PM tool app can be quite different.

Also, getting listed at or near the top of mobile, app-based searches is critical. There is some strong correlation between an app's bounce rate, user ratings, updates to the app, and other factors that will help it rank well in Google Play or Apple's App Store. That would be a must-have for me when launching and marketing an app.

Hope this helps you. Good luck with your team search!
Barry Bryant
0
0
Barry Bryant Advisor
Strategy, Vision, Ideation, Invention, Innovation
Olumide, You are right to trust you team, that's truly the most important aspect of any sound business strategy. As a team, you'll want to measure download and engagement performance benchmarks against revenue projections on a timeline and agree on team accountability and corrective actions to take before you have any issues to correct. You'll know soon enough if your marketing plan is working or if you need to make adjustments. Keeping in mind, the app marketplace is the most competitive market environment there is. An app has to be visible before it can spread virally. Gaining visibility can be difficult but if you're delivering real value in the user experience you will recruit brand evangelists. Best wishes for success! -Barry
Michael Barnathan
0
0
Michael Barnathan Entrepreneur • Advisor
Co-Founder of The Mountaintop Program, Google Alum
If you have the competency on your team, use it. But it sounds like you already have a strong idea of what the marketing entails - has that been vetted by the marketing folks? Make sure you're always listening to people in their area of competency, whatever the relative positions in the organization are.
Suman Chakravartula
1
1
Suman Chakravartula Entrepreneur
Founder at RockStor, Inc.
I discovered https://mautic.com/ yesterday which I'll be trying for my startup(http://rockstor.com) I've begun to see organic traction for my product, which is open source. So I have a similar view of marketing like you. Thought I'd share Mautic, though it's in no way an endorsement. Suman
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