I'm trying to launch a multisided platform (app) in Montreal Canada. I really believe in the project, it's a new trend, already working well in the US with a potential market of billions of dollars.
To get funded, i need to come up with an MVP and proof that the concept works. To make that happen, beside hiring the right app development agency, i need to figure out how to promote the platform and reach my audience. What would bethe right alternative? Should i solicit a marketing agency, should i learn it myself, is there an average cost of that ?
A marketing agency is going to cost you. Probably quite a bit. I generally wouldn't hire a marketing agency unless I already have a good chunk of cash in the bank, and I don't mind if that cash blows away into the wind.
You may have to get creative to get some of those first sales.
If you have nothing to spend on it, then you should create some content, ideally some videos and post them consistently on FB, IG and Tik Tok. Create some type of special intro offer that is stellar and hard to pass up.
If you have a few bucks to spend, run some Facebook ads (this does depend on the type of product though) but if it is an app, you will likely be ok. You can spend as low as $20 a day and figure out pretty quickly whether or not people will buy.
I launched my most recent startup using FB ads and knew from day one it was going to work. That said, I helped my friend who was launching an online drama education platform and FB ads didn't work, but he found another very creative solution that was working, so just because FB doesn't work, doesn't mean nothing will. But, in my experience it is the most affordable platform to test ads on. HOWEVER, it is not easy and you should probably invest in a course or hire someone to do a quick test for you. This will still probably cost you over $1,000 if they know what they are doing.
The goal would be to run ads for $20 a day and at LEAST get $20 in sales to pay for the ads. If you can do that, then the likelihood you could scale from there is reasonable.
So, if you can save up a few grand, you can run some tests. If you can't, then go organic. Start posting targeted content and provide a stellar offer that is hard to pass up to get people on board.
It sounds like you might be trying to build a marketplace. Platforms which are contingent on 2 or more parties are really challenging to build, in terms of acquiring and retaining users.
From Lean Startup Methodologies:
If you haven't yet, you need quantifiable validation of real need/demand. You don't even need a prototype. It's as easy as going out and getting a "would you use this, yes or no" survey answers from real people, post on reddit/quora forums, ask your networks, pay surveymonkey to do it, etc.
I setup up a generic landing page with stock images and my value proposition to capture emails with google forms. Making a test facebook page or IG profile (this requires more time/effort invested though for content/followers). The point is to appear just established/real as necessary to be believable. You could try joining FB groups within your target market, even competitors, and asking.
Then, if you think the numbers justify moving forward, you can you use a quick mock up/prototyping software like figma (freemium) or adobe XD to create a MMVP (minimum minimum viable product), download some free templates, then link it to people to test, show a dev, Angels, VC's. (at this point, you haven't incurred any monetary costs or little to none)
Now you can decide how to go about developing a functional MVP:
1. Do it yourself, convince a cofounder to do it with you, or Outsource/Pay a dev or firm to do it for you.
2. Decide what marketing channels and methods to use to get traction. On social media, I suggest trying variations of targeted facebook/ig ads, posting on producthunt, FB groups, Reddit, linkedin, "influencer marketing" via trade for work or paid. You can also post flyers at coffee shops or community places, but I wouldn't place print ads or conventional radio/tv ads for an app, unless you have enormous scale. SEO/SEM can be applicable too, but not to start as it takes time and content to rank up your site. What you really want is organic/viral network effects (free and meaningful). This will tell you if people are using it, why they are, why they keep using it, and how they're using it. Again, yourself or someone else from upwork/a freelancer.
3. Keep iterating on all the user data, lots of "growth hacking," decide if you need to raise a round to grow, hopefully find product-market-fit before runway is too depleted, repeat for scale and rapid market capture, profitability/sustainability.
I think the hardest and most frustrating part is the "chicken and the egg problem" because you have to constantly manage supply and demand.
In any case, good luck!
I think two principals are helpful:
(1) Your customers are your friends. New business should be tirelessly be improving the need they provide to their customers. This requires an ongoing feedback loop between you and your customers. I think respect and listening to your customers is really important - you should treat them as your treat your friend.
(2) quality of quantity. Its better to retain 10 new customers after targeting 20 then retaining 3 new customers after targeting 100.
Don‘t waste your money or be rude to your friends.
What do you’ll think?
You best understand your product and must participate in the creation of messaging related to its features and benefits, but that doesn't mean you are the best person to distribute this branding. Take advantage of experience, expertise and tools of marketing experts, not doing so only reduces the chance of success. Invest your time in the product, not running the social media campaigns promoting your product. When you are ready feel free to contact me.
Good Luck with your venture
I absolutely agree with Joseph! Not to mention, you don't have the time to truly master both marketing strategy and execution. However, to save on marketing costs, you can purchase a custom Integrated Marketing Strategy.
This will include the full strategy of both on and offline marketing, your annual marketing budget, and an implementation schedule.
Then you can execute the marketing strategy yourself, or should your budget permit, you can have the same marketing professional execute the strategy for you.
Let me know if you have any questions about this. Far too often, this isn't discussed for startups and small businesses, and it should be! :o)
Growth of a two-sided marketplace is a challenge that is harder, or at least as hard as building an MVP.
It should be something that you own and master internally. You can't outsource the responsibility of your company's success to another company.
I really appreciate all your recommendations.
Indeed, i'am investing in a course to learn the fundamentals and technics of SEM. As you said Craig, the best first step ( and the less costly) would be to use social media to validate my market. In the same time, maybe i will find a partner that have effective marketing skills.
For the time being, i'm going to focus on creating the MVP while learning more about digital marketing. I'll keep you guys posted.
I stay open for any other suggestions.
I am all up for the learning-as-you-go model when it comes to marketing but, in the process, you could end making costly mistakes. But still, if you want to do it yourself, you can follow this app marketing guide.
As far as I could figure out (from your question), you need proof that your concept works. For that, you can do a few things:
1. Create a detailed buyer's persona for your app with minute details like hobbies, interest, challenges and how is your app solving that solution.
Influencer marketing works. If you can find the right influencer whose followers overlap with your target audience, just go for it. You will get enough users to show that your concept works.
2. If you or your cofounder have enough following on social media, you can create a detailed form to ask questions about your concept.
3. The cost of marketing? Well, it's a very objective thing. In a not very direct way, the more channels you choose for marketing, the more money you will have to spend.
For me, it looks like you are at a critical stage where you don't want to make any mistakes. We can discuss if you want to discuss any of these points.
Down the road, if you are looking for more funding options, you can read this to get an in-depth insight of ways that have worked in the past!
What you learn