Most app makers start with an attitude of ‘if you build it, they will come,’ so they start by building an app. Then they start the public relations trail, and build up an audience. It’s a great way to build an app, gain a following, and start making money.
A different way to do it is to create a ‘placeholder‘ app. Offer an app for download, but when users download it, offer them a place to register, some information about the app’s possibilities, and no app. That’s right, don’t give them an app right away. While ev3entually, you will have to get the app made, it’s easier to commit to a project that already has customers. Likewise, it’s easier to get seed money when you already have customers.
This method is especially useful for social apps that require a critical mass of users to be useful. Think of a social game like Farmville – if you don’t have enough friends, you can’t really play the game effectively. There are two ways to get around a problem like that. The first, and it’s very effective for games, is to offer enough when you’re playing solo, that you can get addicted to it even if you don’t have friends who play. For a more utility-oriented social platform, the client data or the clients themselves are what provide value to new customers.
Until you have a critical mass of customers, you can’t expect to get more rapidly, so it’s all but impossible to launch. So don’t. If don’t have enough customers to make the product interesting, then spend some time building up the hype, build a Facebook page where people can guess at the type of app they’re getting, offer users brand-new usernames, so that John Smith can finally be JohnSmith instead of JohnSmith21287. There is a lot of potential when you make a placeholder app. Be sure to remember these important rules:
- Keep the hype going. Offer hints about the product’s unique advantages.
- Deliver. I cannot stress this enough. If the product doesn’t deliver everything you said it would, you will lose users immediately upon launch. So promise carefully, and be sure to deliver everything you promise.