Most startups get a great new idea, and their immediate instinct to start coding away on building that product with their very limited budgets. They put on the hat of a consumer using their technology and do their best to build a functional user experience in line with their original vision (which is a perfectly reasonable and expected part of launching a startup). But, then they launch their product and realize no new customers are showing up.
I have previously written about how most entrepreneurs do not set aside an upfront marketing budget to help achieve proof-of-concept, as part of the problem. Another part of the problem is, the founder started building out their technology, without first consulting with any marketers to figure out what they need to build a virally-engaging experience, to easily assist with acquiring new users in a low-cost kind of way from the core technology product.
As an example, let’s say you are building a new mobile app. Have you thought through a responsive web design or mobile web versions, vs. native iOS or Android apps, and which will reach the most users with the best consumer experience? Did you build social sharing tools within the application, so users can easily share content with their friends? Are there ways to gamify the product to make it more engaging and help spread word of mouth? Is there anything in the product that limits its appeal to prospective users? Are there ways to experiment with Groupon’s highly successful 24-hour ticking clock or 500 person tipping points, which helped with rapid viral customer acquisition? Is there any “fear” built into the purchase process, you can quell with a few well-placed “learn more” links? Are there ways to build in user incentives for desired user behaviors? Does the UX create any confusion or friction impeding a user from completing a transaction?
All of the above types of questions should be tackled upfront as part of the initial technology build planning discussions. As these types of marketing-related technology improvements, will help you more quickly and affordably acquire new consumers, vs. traditional higher-cost, media-related marketing efforts. And, hence, will most likely result in you pushing off certain user features or functionality to version 2.0, in order to create budget for these much needed marketing related technologies that will help with customer acquisition.
The best technology in the world is useless if new users can’t easily find it. So plan ahead from day one, and incorporate marketing-driven technology needs into your product right from the start.
This article was originally published on the Red Rocket VC blog, a consulting and financial advisory firm with expertise in serving the startup, digital and venture community.
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