For the past 10 months I’ve been working on building a mobile app with my friends, and if you caught my last two posts, you know that finding a programmer and finding money are, obviously, two of the most important aspects (and biggest challenges) of getting your idea off the ground. I’m happy to report we’ve found a great development team and we raised the final cost to get it built. As you read this, there’s a little code monkey chipping away to create our app. Finally!
Oh, but the startup fun has only just begun. You see, there’s a launch ahead, and there is so much to be done before we introduce this to the world. Accordingly, I’ve created a pre-launch checklist to make sure we cover all our bases. For those getting ready to launch, I hope this startup advice (from yours truly) helps.
Have you started the App Store/Google Play app submission process?
So, you’ve built out your app. Now users to need download it. Duh. But it’s not an easy process, my friend. The App Store has a long list of guidelines to prepare you for both your app submission and how to manage your app after it has been submitted. It’s complicated, tedious and all necessary. Google Play also has its own app distribution guidelines to worry about. My suggestion? Start now.
Have you read the fine print?
At this point, paperwork has really started to pile up. From contracts, to agreements, to guidelines – there’s a lot of fine print that needs to be examined. They’re all very important, especially the contract from the developer. When money is involved, nothing should be overlooked. Make sure you’ve looked over everything 5 times, and then give it to someone else to look over. The last thing you want is an unfinished app and an empty bank account. Legal counsel is also helpful. Check out my girl Rachel Rodgers who specializes in startup law.
Have you created a media contact list?
I’m lucky to have an extensive web of startup contacts that will (hopefully) help a sister out when the app is launched. But I had emails, business cards and websites scribbled down all over the place that needed to be organized. So, I created a Google doc spreadsheet with all the media contacts I could muster and shared it with my co-founders to add their contacts. That way, when we’re ready to launch, we have a central database of all the people we need to reach out to.
How are you going to generate pre-launch buzz?
For me, it’s all about the launch party. In an ideal world, we would rent out a bar in New York City, have all our guests download and play the app, demo it on a large projector, and drink to our hearts content. This, of course, depends on our budget. Right now, we have no budget. So, let’s change gears and think of creative, free ways to generate pre-launch buzz.
- Saturate your social media – It annoys people, yes, but it really is important to get the word out. I think the rule is it takes on average 7 impressions (i.e. email, Facebook, Tweet, text) for someone to take action. You know, like downloading your app to help you reach entrepreneurial domination.
- Create a contest and get people engaged – Your app doesn’t have to be ready to download to get people excited about it. One way is to create some sort of contest to get people engaged with the product before it has even launched. We have a “create your own caption” section of our website so future users can get involved with the app (and create content for us!). Facebook is the obvious way to run a contest. People love to win stuff.
- Reach out to your contacts – You know that spreadsheet I told you to create? Well, it doesn’t hurt to start contacting them pre-launch so they’ll get excited, maybe even blog about it.That’s what I did, and we had a few potential investors show interest before there was a product. You never know!
Listen, I’m not a marketing master. I may have dabbled a bit in college, but I’m feverishly reading blogs and books and asking marketing friends to advise me on best practices. Right now, I’m wearing the marketing director hat, so I’m learning how important the pre-launch preparations are (let’s not even talk about the post-launch marketing madness to come).