As others have stated, this heavily depends on what they are really bringing to the table. Success here will rely on two things:
- ExpertiseSurely your team has some time and some expertise, so there are a lot of partial solutions (which others have suggested). There are a few questions you can ask yourself.
- Are there areas where the team is weak? Specifically, are they good at community building, user behavior analysis (and using that to improve the product), online advertising (all types), product promotion, public/media relations, strategic partnerships, etc.
- Is the time you'd spend doing these things worth it? Specifically, are there other things that would be a better use of your team's time that they would have to sacrifice if they spent all day posting on Twitter or whatever.
There's a lot more to marketing an app than just posting on social platforms and some SEM. What you'd be paying for is either:
- Things you can't do or can't do as well as you think (expertise)
- Things that aren't worth your time to do (resources)
Since you are early in the process of proving out the market, being conservative makes a lot of sense. However, in my experience, strategies that consist of "it doesn't matter if we market because this will just go viral" are almost always doomed to failure. You are basing the entire success of your product on a "wish," and have no actual plan to make it happen.Viral campaigns almost never happen on their own, and they take an incredible amount of behind-the-scenes crafting, management and influencing. I'm not saying it can't happen, but if you don't actually have a strategy to enable, promote, and guide your new community to promote your product for you, they aren't going to go very far on their own. Word of Mouth marketing can do wonders, but it isn't hands-off.
- How will people share (in app, FB, social groups, etc)?
- Who will they share with (are you building a community in the app, sharing to FB/Twitter friends, to phone contacts, etc)?
- What elements in the app reward and incentivize sharing?
- Will you onboard referrals differently?
- Sharing among "regular" people generally has so little influence that it'll almost never reach critical mass. How will you identify major influencers and turn them into evangelists to share to many people very quickly and enough to spread elsewhere?
- What message/branding do you want them to share (are they promoting a feature of the app, sharing because of your company story, etc) and how will they get that message (are you using rich sharing elements like twitter cards that can include video, image, or other elements. What does your invitation email say? What does the onboarding process look like for them)?
- How does the "viral" and sharing parts of your campaign support other marketing elements, and vice-versa.
"I'm quite confident in [not spending money] since I believe the app will spread like wildfire due to word of mouth."