After a while, your coding fingers start asking for a break. During that free time, your mind wanders. And, sometimes, it wanders into dangerous territory. You might start thinking about marketing. You’re reading this, aren’t you? You’re asking yourself: “When’s the right time to step back and start planning my marketing strategy?”
When your mind is finally taking a bit of a rest (and isn’t overly excited about the prospect of buying a new mousepad), you start thinking about how you’re going to attract a user base. It’s in that random moment that all hell breaks loose. If you’re not thinking about whether you’re too early to start a marketing campaign, you have no idea where you’re standing. It’s that simple.
You know you’re considering marketing a bit too early when:
- You’re still worried you’d make a fool of yourself by presenting the product you have made so far to the public. This should be a no-brainer.
- You’ve got a major update coming up. When someone sees a major change in your product just after jumping on your boat, it’s something that might make this person jump off right away. Major updates right after a major sign-up streak are basically your way of saying, “What? You thought we were stable? HA!” The period after a major update, on the other hand, is a completely different story. Also a minor update, such as moving a button from the left of the screen to the right, shouldn’t give you much trouble. It’s those enormous face lifts that happen right after a bunch of people join that really bugs ‘em.
- You’d best describe the product as an “alpha-stage” project. That’s like those kids in high school that get a band together and attempt to throw a concert after their first two rehearsals.
- People other than your family members haven’t tested your product and given it a good roasting. This is by far one of the most important. Your family is more inclined to say, “Hey, Billy! That’s one sweet project you got there!” They’ll say this even if you make the most horrid thing to ever reach this green Earth. Get strangers in and tell them to give you two things: What they loved about your product; and what aspect of your product made them want to curl into a little corner of the basement.
While nothing’s worse than starting a marketing campaign too early, there also is such a thing as starting one too late. For example, if you already blew chunks out of a budget developing the project to the point you’re broke, it’s time to reconsider its fate unless you get your hands on a pot of gold real fast.
Also, do not misinterpret this as a motive to delay the release of your product. If you’re still in the pre-release stage, just make a solid product that people will use. Release the product early! Once it’s released, pull the reins on development and focus on marketing exclusively for a while. Once you get some users, you can add the features you want later on. This way, you can upsell your product when you feel it’s time to start pulling in more revenue by releasing a new feature.
When’s the right time to market? Consider marketing when your work has turned into a well-polished and finished-ish product, you had enough people test it to death, and (most importantly) you have the confidence and pride to show prospects a product that you would use yourself in your daily life without a single second-look at any other software of its nature. Oh, and don’t forget that you need money for this!