Often when I’m sitting down with a friend for a drink, or dinner- I like to ask her pull out her iPhone, so I can see what apps she is using. I wouldn’t describe most of my friends as early adopters, rather it would be more accurate to refer to them as “normals.” They don’t read TechCrunch, check Twitter throughout the day, and definitely wouldn’t know what a16z means. They represent the majority of users for most consumer focused products, that is why I am curious to see what apps they are using. I also want to hear about how they discovered them. Building a product is hard, getting people to find out about, and then use your product is arguably harder. With so many new products popping up everyday, there has never been more noise, with many companies battling for attention in an already crowded marketplace.
When my friends see me on my iPhone, they often ask what various apps I’m using, or what the unrecognizable icons on my homescreen are. Many times, my friends will mention a struggle or difficulty they are having, and I exclaim similar to a real life Apple commercial “There is an app for that!” Foursquare for the friend who wants to keep track of restaurants to try in Brooklyn. Wunderlist for my friend who is always several years behind on TV and Movies, and keeps a running list for what he should watch next. Duolingo for the friend who is traveling to Spain in the summer, and wants to brush up on her Spanish. Songza for my friends who complain about Spotify ads. Pocket for everyone who rides the subway. The list goes on. These are all incredible products that I use every single day, but many of my friends didn’t know about them previously. Word of mouth is a powerful marketing channel, but it cannot be the only one. Yes, I’m positive all of these apps try to reach broader audiences, but my point is that it is still extremely difficult, maybe more difficult than ever before. For founders it is important to remember that building an amazing product is only part of the journey. Getting people to join you on the journey is also critical.