Initial marketing plan

Now that we know what we’re going to build, we need a way to reach our initial target audience and find some first “fans” who are willing to try the product.

First we need to determine the target audience. Our app is going to be a very horizontal product, which can make it easier to grow (lots of potential users) but harder to start (it’s very general and we need to know how to reach the very first people to get started). Step one is to think of people who could be our initial fans.

As we wrote about here, we picked something we would use ourselves on purpose, so we know the problem and we can try to reach people like us. Let’s say we look for “busy people who create todo.txt files”. Makers/creatives/startups would fall in that category and are most like us, so easiest to find. Another niche category we can probably find online is people writing about things like productivity, GTD, journaling and so on.

We’ll start creating a list of places to find the audience. Some places we can look are:

  • Twitter
  • Subreddits
  • Forums
  • Discords
  • YouTube channels
  • ProductHunt

We can use good ol’ Google, Twitter search and tools like to find relevant pages. Once we know where to look, we can do a few things to get the word out:

  • Be helpful and answer questions people have to get followers. This is easy and fun, but slow.
  • Directly post what we’re working on and ask feedback (on some places this is actively encouraged, others you have to be careful not to come across as spammy).
  • Search for messages where people talk about the problem or related products in the space, and reply to ask a question, or if they would be interested in our idea (examples are Twitter threads, DMs on Reddit/Forums, etc.)

Especially the last two can feel awkward because it’s a cold outreach of sorts, and they have the biggest chance of resulting in negative reactions (rejection!), or no reaction at all. That’s all just part of the journey though, at some point you need to tell people you exist. Just a random example, look at how a tiny app called WhatsApp posted like this in 2009:

And of course in many cases feedback will also be very positive and people actually like to discover new cool things.

While finding all those users, we also need to tell them what we’re building and point somewhere to our product. For this we need to create a proper landing page. To get people excited about the product, we want the landing page to do a few things:

  • Explain what we’re building
  • Show a little demo video or nice screenshot (we’d let people demo the app if possible, but we don’t have an app yet)
  • Offer something like early access, a private beta or even accept pre-sales. Ask for a way to contact them so we can email them when we launch.

Sometimes a landing page can just be some text explaining what you’re doing. In case of our app, which is in a busy space, it’s probably necessary to showcase a bit of the app itself (like a compelling demo, to show how it sets itself apart from all the other products). To do this, we need to do a bit of prototyping over the coming days, and create a pre-MVP. We don’t need something people can use yet, but at least some sort of (design) mockup for a “screenshot” or video, to show the vision behind the idea.

In parallel, we’ll continue building everything in public and share our startup lessons. We would do this anyway of course as that’s the point of the 80daystartup, but there will also be some overlap with the target audience for the app, so this too might result in more users for our launch list.

We’ll then need to keep building to create the first minimum viable version of the product (focusing on the core features), while we keep posting, replying and doing “mini launches” up to the official launch day itself.

All of this is a very manual process at the beginning. The aim is to find ways to grow faster organically once we have some first initial fans.

You can follow us on Twitter @jdvhouten and @wcools and look for #80daystartup

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