You've spent weeks, months, or even years creating your product and then you get to launch day, you launch it out there, no one signs up, no one downloads your app. Why does this happen and how can you avoid it? That’s really the focus of our episode today.
Here are some items discussed in today's show:
Thanks for listening to this episode of The Stretch Goals Podcast! We'd love to hear your thoughts on this episode and answer any questions.
Robert: In this episode Scott and I will be talking about why no one cares about your product and how to get them to care.
Scott: This is the Stretch Goals podcast where each week we’ll share insights and lessons learned based on our experiences as entrepreneurs. We’ll challenge you to create ambitious goals as you start and grow your business. I’m your host, Scott Davis.
Robert: And I’m Robert Dickerson. You spent weeks, months, or even years creating your product and then you get to launch day, you launch is out there, no one signs up, no one downloads your app. Why does this happen and how can you avoid it? That’s really the focus of our episode today. I think it can be really hard when you’ve spent a lot of time developing a product especially if you’re kinda using your own ideas and own thoughts and you’ve spent a lot of time developing it and you think just launching it that people will come to it and they’ll start using the product.
I think the reason that people don’t is because there’s only so much time in the day and everyone is just inundated with new products, new services, and it’s really impossible to keep up with those things. I think this episode is really timely for those of us that are listening to this podcast that are developing products is to think about when we’re ready to launch and maybe it’s not a singular event, this launch event and maybe that’s one thing you need to think about is using kind of an agile process to continually launch new products and features out there so that you don’t end up with this launch day thing where no one signs up and then how you can avoid that and how you can continue to grow your customer base after you’ve released something out there.
Scott: Yep. This is a great topic and I see it all the time. Founders are very emotionally connected to their product. Their product finally launches after potentially months or years of development and nobody shows up, right? In whatever capacity that may be and there’s some very basic reasons for it. Number one, people aren’t as emotionally connected to the product as you because it’s brand new to them. You haven’t created any brand association with them yet and then number two, you need to convince them why they need it and why it’s important to them.
We’re talking about if you’ve got a mobile app, most people have no more than 17 to 30 apps on their phone. This is the average user, not power uses like us, but 17 to 30 apps on their so you have to convince them to add one more. We’re also talking about an environment where most people have over 50 bookmarks in their browser so now they need to be able to find you and make you one of those bookmarks and then we’re talking about an environment where people have more than a thousand unread emails in their inbox. How do you get into that inbox and just save it for later. Why is it so hard to connect with people and get your product there and become one of those key apps or bookmarks or top inbox items that you’re gonna come back to all the time.
Robert: I’ve signed up for services that I got an initial pitch or saw the website and I thought, “Oh, this is a great service” sign up, never use it because I don’t have time and I’ll get emails in my inbox, them following up to use a service and I just don’t have time to use it. There’s just not enough of a need for me to go out there and use this service, so even if you can get in front of someone, a lot of times there might not be a big enough need for them to go engage with your services.
We talked about that this could be for anything, right? It doesn’t have to be for apps. It could be for this podcast. How do we get people to listen to this podcast. There’s so many podcasts out there on entrepreneurship. Why are we special? Why are we any different to get people to listen to us?
Scott: I know for a fact that we’ve got two listeners of this podcast. You and me. No, it’s a great question. Our podcast is a good example. Maybe nobody listens to this, but we have to resonate with people. If we resonate with people, we put ourselves out there, we market ourselves appropriately and organically then as long as we’re heading the things that people need, we need to listen to our own customers and eat our own dog food, right? Everything we’re talking about here.
As long as we can meet the needs of those people, then they’re gonna come back and that’s how we got our podcast out there, but it goes back to nobody cares about our podcast. That’s true, so we go out and find people who would find this appropriate and we’ll say to them, “Hey. Check out our podcast. Share it with your friends. Share it with people you feel would find this information useful and then put in places, product podcasts or put it out on Twitter. Put it in places where other like minded individuals who are in the business of consuming podcast content and put it out there where they’re eyes can see it.”
Robert: I think for us with this podcast we take a long term view of it. It’s not something that’s gonna happen immediately and so that’s something also you have to think about as you’re growing your business that it’s not a one time event where you’re gonna get tons of people signing up it’s a iterative process that you’re gonna work on for a long time to actually grow your business.
Scott: I’m done. I thought this podcast was gonna get like 10,000 … I’m done. I’m finished.
Robert: Hopefully we get a lot of listeners, but-
Scott: I want to talk about something. I don’t know, I wasn’t planning on talking about this but there is this website that I use it’s called throttlehq.com and what it does is it basically allows them to sign up for all those newsletters you get and everything, like you were just talking about and this is why I thought of it. You sign up for a new service and you’re like, “Oh cool. This is gonna be awesome” and then you never use it. This was one of those services, but then it sort of came back to me. Throttle, what it allows me to do is throttle my email.
My inbox was getting out of control because I would sign up for these beta services and then now they’re sending me emails. This allows me to control where I can get subscriptions from and all these different things and I never really used it but then one day I was like, “Hey, I really need this service again” but because I had bookmarked it I came back to it and now it’s something I use all the time. I send all my potentially junk email there and then I can cut them off at any time and I no longer get their emails and then they don’t have my personal email.
That’s just an example of a service that I wasn’t using, I thought it was a cool concept. I never used it and then all of a sudden I’m using it again. How did that happen? For me, personally, there was a need for it. It gave me more time, but really how do they target other people. I don’t know.
Robert: I think that goes back to, you never know how long that’s gonna take to grow your customers and that initial engagement with the service, you signed up but you weren’t really engaged with it. It took a period of time and so you have to factor that in to when you’re launching your product that you might engage people. You might get it in the back of their mind, but they might not use it until they have a need, so just getting out there in front of more and more people is important so that people care about your product. So that people can see how they can use it.
Scott: Isn’t there this notion, science something that says you have to do something like 21 times to make it a habit or something to that effect. I don’t know. Throw out some number. Statistics are made up on the fly, right? It takes 38 times to make something a habit. Whatever it is, how do you make something a habit? If you see a product you immediately, maybe you do care. Maybe you don’t care, but then how do you make them come back?
Robert: That’s why you get all those emails.
Scott: Just spam you
Robert: Yeah, because I mean it is. You have to have all these touch points. I think it’s more than seven times, I think, before you actually start thinking about and using a product and that’s why people continuously do ads. That’s why you continuously see car ads on football Sundays, right? Because, yeah, we know Chevy has all the awards. I don’t need to see that ad anymore.
Scott: All the car makers have all the awards. If you ever see a car maker commercial they all won the same award every year.
Robert: I think they made up their own awards.
Robert: Yeah. There’s that approach to marketing where you’re just banging people over the head constantly trying to get them to come back, but maybe another way to think about it is, how can you target some niche area and I know we want to talk about Snapchat for a little bit, too, is that how do you target that niche? How do you pivot slightly to really engage with customers maybe if your first message doesn’t resonate with them?
Scott: Yeah. Snapchat, number one, they struggled for a long time to get a broad user base and now they’ve got hundreds of millions of users and their thinking about an IPO I just saw this week and they’ve raised hundreds of millions of dollars at a two billion dollar evaluation with less than a hundred million in revenue so that’s kind of crazy, but if you go and look at how they started, they were really targeting teens and photo sharing and it was a very small audience. They had like 2,000 users for the longest time and they didn’t know how to expand from it.
Through the process of feedback and iteration and understanding how people were using it and how they really wanted to use it to share with their friends, what would make them share it with their friends, they started to evolve the product and they did it really slow in my opinion, but they have been successful now. I was one of those people who was like, “This app’s horrible.” The design was horrible. It didn’t feel like a native iPhone application. A lot of different reasons why I didn’t want to use it, but they were really the first ones to introduce this concept of like a story, which now Instagram and Facebook have both stolen.
Snapchat came up with that concept and that’s really what made people start using it because it was this place where you could just share some content that was gonna disappear after 24 hours and this is what I’m doing right now. Boom. Here’s a picture. This is what I’m doing right now. Here’s a video and it just goes out there and then it’s gone. That was easier for people than going out and explaining what they’re doing. Boom. You snap it and you move on, and that worked for them.
When they found that people started sharing with your friends. “Hey. Yeah I’m not on Instagram anymore. Come follow me on Snapchat.” That’s how that happened and it took them a long time. They struggled. They did not have the user base that they thought they would need. I don’t know how they survived it to be honest, but they were able to work through it and pivot and make changes and target different people to where it became this organic shared experience.
Robert: I think that just shows that you need to be flexible when you launch your app, that you need to think about that people might not use it in the ways that you expect them to use it and this could really go for any type of product, so you need to be open minded to those types of things that you’re able to pivot and grow your product in a direction that people do care about.
Scott: That’s why MVP’s are so important, right? If you can get something in people’s hands early enough to where you can make tweaks and changes you don’t invest a lot of time in the front end with a concept that’s gonna be way off base. I just saw this last week on a project that I’ve been working on for a long time. We changed directions after a year working on a product with no users and we didn’t understand how they were gonna use it and now we do and it’s completely different than what we were expecting so we had to make those changes and that’s at the cost of time and money and potential missed customers, so that’s always something to consider.
If you can get it out there early, make your tweaks, put it in front of people. Don’t be afraid to put it in front of people. That’s the biggest thin I see with MVP’s. They want to make it perfect. MVP’s aren’t meant to be perfect. They’re meant to prove your idea and then make changes to your idea so that you get even more customers.
Robert: That’s always touched on in the last episode, episode nine when we talked about product demos is that if you could use product demos to get this feedback early, then when you launch you know you already have that feedback built in that you know there’s customers that care about it and it doesn’t have to be a lot of customers on launch. It could just be a small number of focused customers that you’re interested in that you’re really targeting, so don’t think about ‘no one cares’ as being tens of thousands of people. All you need is a couple of people that care about your product that are willing to pay for it.
Scott: Sure. Let’s change pace for a second. Let’s talk about, we know why people can’t find products, especially in the digital world because we’re saturated. How many apps are there? Millions right now, right? How do you find one little app. You can talk about app store optimization or search engine optimization. Yeah. All that stuff helps. It does, but at the end of the day if you really want to be recognized you have to make your service something that other people want to share because I’m a technical person. I look at the top apps everyday. I download all the new apps. That’s just me.
Most people do not do that. I’m probably in the point four percent of the populous of people who actually downloads every app and tries them all out because I’m a weird nerd and I’m on a product hunt religiously, looking at all the new stuff and I try them all, but that’s not most people. Most people, they find out from a friend and to get to a point where I share a product with anybody I have to truly believe in it. I don’t invite anybody to any service unless I really really believe in it, right?
If you can get your product to that point where people want to share it, then you’ve met this, “How do we make people care?” Because somebody else told you about it. If somebody else told you about it, you’re more likely to use it.
Robert: What’s that threshold for you to share it? Is it that it solves a need for you?
Scott: Yeah. It’s a couple of things. It’s gotta be a useful product. It’s gotta be professional quality. That’s why I hated Snapchat. I’d never use it because I thought it was a piece of junk. It’s a lot different now, but it’s gotta be of a certain quality. It’s gotta be solving a problem. The problem I run into is we’re tech people, but most people I know aren’t tech people and how do I … There’s services that I use like four square which is now Swarm. I check in everywhere I go. I don’t anybody who uses that, but I like it, but I’ve never shared it with anybody because I don’t know who cares about checking in that their at McDonald’s right now.
Robert: Are you still on ICQ as well?
Scott: I’m not, but I loved ICQ that was a good app back in the day, but yeah, it’s gotta be something that … I know my audience, right? I know my people. Rob, what have I shared with you, really? Not a whole lot.
Scott: Because I know you, right? I know what you would be interested in, but I do share something with you, I’m gonna share it with you because I know you’re interested in it, right? I know you don’t like TI 82 calculator apps. You don’t want to talk about that, but the point is I share it with you for a couple of reasons. One, I know it’s important to you or two, it’ll benefit our relationship in some way. I told my wife this morning about how Instagram just last week or week before added taggable products in their posts. You can now post a picture, click on different products like shoes or a purse or whatever and as a brand you can associate that with a price point and a link to a product.
I shared that with her because she loves shopping and she loves Instagram, so it’s an example of why I shared this piece of new with her. It’s the same concept as to what would make me share a product. Does it benefit you?
Robert: I think if we’re going back to development of those products, I know we talked a little bit about pushing features out continuously and getting feedback on those features as well as a way to continue to grow your product and get that audience feedback. Like you were saying with Instagram, they can launch this new feature and they can get feedback on that feature and tweak it and try to grow it to get their other audience bigger and I mean after you get that initial audience you’re continuing to double down and continue to grow your product by continuing to … Marketing your product, sharing your product, and I know that that can come as a developer myself some of that stuff I don’t really know that well, right?
The marketing and the sales. I understand how I find products useful but it can be kind of foreign to some people if they’ve never dealt in that marketing aspect of how do I market that product. They’re really thinking about how do I build this widget, this feature, this physical product and how do I get it out there to people more than, “I need to market this product before I even develop it”, right, and I need to get it out there and how do I develop a path to do that.
Scott: Yeah. Some people do think about it in the wrong order. Is the concept of a focus group dead these days? The old school, like you sit in a room with ten people. Is that dead or is pushing your app out on Test Flight or Hockey app or any of these beta services, is that a better approach because you’re hitting 500 to 2,000 users at a time. A lot of times if you’ve got a software product, you get a beta but you don’t actually get any feedback. You don’t get feedback because people didn’t like it or they don’t have time. Like you said earlier. If they like your product, though, they’re gonna give you some feedback how to make it better, but is that concept of a focus group dead? Is that a thing of the past?
Robert: No. I don’t think it is. I think people still use focus groups. I know larger brands still use that as well. I use focus groups in a different way and then I’ll use people that I know, like yourself, I’ll send you think that I’m developing and get your feedback on, but yeah, if you can find your target audience and really get their feedback, and there’s products now, too, that you can watch people interacting with your app in real time, and those things are really cool because you can see not only how they’re interacting but are they having problems, are they not using a specific feature that you thought would be really used and so then you can figure out ways that you can increase the visibility of those features or maybe fix a problem that was causing people not to sign up for example.
Scott: Right. Yeah. A lot of those products in my opinion are overpriced, but they do provide a lot of context, how people are engaging, what are the hot zones and all that good stuff, but they’re very pricey, but they provide invaluable data and the reason that they are pricey is because they don’t have a lot of competition in that space, and that’s why they’re able to price that that way. Yeah, it’s hard to put an app out there. If you’ve got your mind set that you’re gonna put a piece of software out in the market, website, app, whatever, even putting something on a Walmart shelf or, I don’t know, you’ve got a new cereal. If you think that your product on day one is gonna go to millions of people you’re way off.
Does it happen? Absolutely, but it doesn’t happen very often. It’s a very small percentage of time. When was the last time you saw an article about someone making a million dollars on an app? You don’t see it because it doesn’t happen that much anymore, but can it happen? Yeah. You just have to know how to get it out there, but I’m saying it’s the exception to the rule, so you really have to be prepared for an initial slow growth and I’m happy with a linear growth graph. It doesn’t have to be exponential. It doesn’t have to be shared organically by millions of people overnight, but I like a steady growth pattern, keeping those daily active users constantly going up and I’m happy with that.
Robert: I really hate those articles where … They’re really just headline grabbers where they say, "I spent a weekend developing an MVP, talked to one person and now I’m making $20,000 a month. It just doesn’t happen like that. Even if it does, those are outliers, so ignore those articles.
Scott: It’s sensationalism in order to drive traffic to a site. That’s just how it is. Do those things happen? Yeah they do. Rob and I have had success in the past, too, but every experience is different and you just can’t be willing to give up but at the same time you can’t expect hundreds of thousands of people to adopt your app immediately. You might know 500 people and you might send your product to 500 people, but even still, those 500 people aren’t all going to become adopters, so just expect it to not be what you have in your head. Just take a modest approach. Don’t be offended if people don’t get it. That’s what MVP’s are for. Make a change. Make it apply to more people and every single time you put it out there, make more changes so it applies to even more people.
Robert: I think that rejection is one thing people don’t like, too.
Robert: They take that rejection personally when they push their product out there and no one cares about it. I know that’s something that’s hard for me, but you can’t take it personally. You have to use the feedback, both positive and negative from people. Sometimes no feedback is not negative feedback and you have to remember that, that just because someone doesn’t try it doesn’t mean they don’t like it. It might just mean that they don’t have time at that particular time or they don’t have an interest or a need at that time and so you have to continue to followup with people continuing to reach out to your audience and find those people that will engage with it that will give you feedback.
Scott: Yeah. That’s a good point. Some people aren’t built for feedback. They just don’t work well with constructive criticism or otherwise and maybe you’re in the wrong industry, but the point is any feedback’s better than nothing, right? Because you at least know that you’re way off base and you can make tweaks. Don’t take it personally. Your product is a creation of your vision and maybe you didn’t understand what people really needed and that’s fine. Make a tweak, but your vision still doesn’t have to change. Your vision is just being modified a little bit to hit more people. That’s all it is.
I’ve had bad feedback before, too, and I don’t know, I didn’t take it personally. I like to look at data. I like to look at analytics. If I can see how people are using it, I make logical decisions based on that data and then when people tell me what they think about it, it’s usually like a polarizing effect. People will tell me, “Oh, I hated this” and I’m like, “Okay, well, that’s where most people are using it”, so how do you balance feedback from people with real words from a real in-person source versus what the data’s telling you, so just don’t take it personally.
Make a logical decision and because one person tells you they hate something doesn’t mean everybody does, so keep that in mind and at the same token if one person tells you they love it it doesn’t mean everybody does, so just be open. Make changes.
Robert: I think some of that negative feedback can actually really help you. Especially if you dig deeper and really engage that person because a lot of times people will just leave quick comments, “I don’t like this product”, but if you dig deeper you can see, “Oh, they were having a problem signing up. They couldn’t actually use the product” or maybe there’s some other tweak that you can make, so that can really help you and then actually if you engage them and you’re positive with them, a lot of times they’ll continue to try it and they can become an advocate of your product as well, so treat that negative feedback, don’t take it personally, really try to engage that person and figure out why they gave you that feedback.
Scott: Yeah. Even if you’re gonna lose them as a customer, worst case scenario you get some great feedback about how you can make that experience better for somebody else, best case scenario, like you said, Rob, you get an advocate, somebody who’s gonna be behind you now and everything you do because of the way you treated them with the experience that they had and that goes a long way.
Robert: Because a lot of times people respond … Since there’s so much social media they can respond negatively very easily. They forget that there’s a person on the other end of that and so when you’re engaging them and talking to them they realize, “Hey, this person’s actually building this thing. I’m not gonna be a jerk to them.”
Scott: Right. Yeah. Just don’t take it personally.
Robert: Let’s wrap up this episode. I hope it helped you think about why people don’t care about your product and really some ways that you can prove that in terms of talking about early adopters. We talked a little bit about sharing and marketing, creating a brand and an audience and really getting that customer feedback and engaging with customers continuously and it’s a long term process to grow your product so don’t think of it was a singular launch event think of it about a period over time where you can continue to grow your product. If you liked this episode we really appreciate a five star review on iTunes. Reach out to us if you have questions or ideas for future episodes. Keep in touch. Let us know how your product launches are going.
Scott: Absolutely, and please share it with other people so that they can care about our podcast.
Robert: Yes. Share this podcast. Tell us what you like and don’t like.
Scott: Yeah. There you go. We’re all ears and we’re not gonna be offended by it. Seriously, let us know what we can do better. Let us know what we can cover and if you’ve got some feedback for us we’re all ears. Until next time.
Robert: See you next week.
Scott: Thank you for listening to this episode of the Stretch Goals podcast. You can access the show notes for this episode and listen to other episodes by heading over the stretchgoals.fm.
Robert Dickerson is the Founder and CEO of Mapout a mobile learning platform that uses video courses to educate customers and train employees. He helps companies develop and launch their products.
Scott Davis is the Founder and CEO of MobX, a mobile development software agency. He has 20 years of experience developing software for Government, Finance, Sports and the Telecommunications industry.