Getting your service or product “out there” is a struggle for any business. Only a lucky, connected few get on the front pages of major tech sites, or be used by big brands, so they can splash those logos around on their client page. For everyone else, it requires effort and patience. However, there are lots of free or low-cost services and marketing methods you can use that can go a long way to boost your profile.
Having launched many products and brands, I can tell you once the initial enthusiasm for the product wears off, and those early press releases are last week’s news, your business will face the hard yards of getting it “out there.”
Every week there are dozens of new tech product launches, all looking for the oxygen of exposure. Getting yours in people’s hands is the best way to go, but even talking about the product can help build the buzz, here are several great ways to get that audience growing.
ProductHunt Works, I Have Proof
ProductHunt allows businesses and end users to find products that meet their immediate business needs. It also acts as a focal point for the latest tech products, from apps and services to hardware and concepts, making it a busy and vibrant community.
I recently launched a product called ChatWhale to gamify customer interactions with chatbots on Facebook Messenger. It was promoted using ProductHunt and hit the No. 2 spot on launch. This exposure helped drive a sizeable amount of traffic and generate plenty of interest. Use of ChatWhale by ProductHunt users helped provide validation for our minimum viable product (MVP) and provide plenty of feedback for improvements to future updates.
As your product generates interest, it can appear on the highly-cited and popular lists of key products for startups and in other categories that will help drive further interest. Services like this and business communities focused on tools they use are worth spending time getting involved with to raise the profile of a product.
Good Old Word of Mouth
Talking about your products, giving interviews or getting involved in discussions across your market’s forums, social media groups and other water cooler-type places is a great way to raise awareness among the people and businesses most likely to use your product.
Every vertical or niche has a few big annual events where you can make a splash, but the drip, drip, drip of discussion on industry podcasts, magazines, online roundtables is a great way to raise the profile of you, your company and product. Volunteer your time, your opinion or write articles and comments to tell your story.
A key aspect of any discussion is data, most businesses love to talk about the numbers. If your product or service generates some useful datapoints, shout about it loud and proud in infographics and articles to get people interested. In combination, you post to places like Quora to discuss people’s questions about your field or niche, go to Facebook groups or comment on LinkedIn posts by market leaders to be a part of the conversation.
The Power of the Soft Launch
People love early access to products, apps or services. By offering early or limited access to your product, you get some free feedback, and if any major bugs lurk in the system will be able to get them sorted before the launch, limiting any possible reputational damage to the product.
If you have an app, you can get people testing it using Apple’s TestFlight, allowing up to 10,000 external testers can trial your product to ensure it is fit for purpose. You can also promote apps on review sites like AppAdvice that provide a wide range of categories, so people looking for an app like yours are more likely to find it.
By putting your app or service in places like ProductHunt Launch you can appeal to focused groups of professionals. A decent sample of (100+) beta users can provide vital and valuable feedback on the features, user experience and value analysis. From that you can refine pricing, add to the roadmap and much more, building a more rounded product for the full launch.
Another route to go is through services like AppSumo, offering a discounted limited run of your product to early adopters. This provides some immediate income that can help fund your next steps, and again these users are more likely to provide critical feedback than general users.
Another service is Prefinery.com that helps you set up a beta test program to build hype and interest around a product. If your product has any cachet, having people queuing around the digital block to use it is a great way to build awareness. It can also help create viral marketing among your followers and helps businesses build a more rounded product.
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
While marketing and generating interest in your product might seem daunting. The good news is that many businesses have been there before and it is possible to walk in their footsteps, Lots of businesses have been blogging or writing how-we-did-it articles since their startup days. You can track down and see what businesses similar to yours did, replicating their success and avoiding their failures.
You can also use handy tools such as BuiltWith to find companies that use similar products in your market, allowing you to reach out and compete with them. With a database of over 1.5 million businesses you can go by vertical, region and other slices to find the best people to pitch to.
Between these and other opportunities you can find out there, there are plenty of ways to go about building and finding an audience for your product. Success won’t likely happen overnight, but building up a solid core of early interest is a valuable way to get ahead of rivals who expect success to come to them.
Ian Naylor is the founder and CEO of AppInstitute, one of the world’s leading DIY app builders. He has founded, grown, and sold four successful internet and technology companies around the world during the past 18 years.