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September 10, 2005


Jeff Clavier

Another idea: if the product is genuinely different and innovative, can't you launch it at a conference that will provide you with the right level of exposure (Web 20, Demo, Blogon, etc.) ?
Or come and attend one of these conferences, and do a bunch of demos in the alleys ? That's what Chris did at last years Web20, and that got the buzz going around Rojo.

The answer to your question is kinda "it depends". One more thing to talk about when we connect, I guess...

Nick Douglas

I've enjoyed a few beta tests, which all went through an invitation application system. One in particular did a good job of attracting high-profile bloggers.

Exclusivity indeed breeds interest. Google mail was that much cooler for being invite-only. Blogging and other creative tools benefit even more.

Paying bloggers, though, is always risky, since many feel that outside of regular jobs and official consultant work, paying bloggers can breed biased or dishonest blogging. Still, it's not a Great Evil to pay someone to test a relevant tool.

Paying for buzz, though, is sneakier. If you want word of mouth to grow, your best bet is still to offer your product to early adopters and hope it's good enough to buzz about.

To pay for publicity, targeted advertising is your best bet. But there I'm biased, and in fact, I'd like your advertising dollars. Seriously, Blogebrity's looking for advertisers, and you could e-mail us at blogebrity@gmail.com.

In any case, good luck with the roll-out, and I hope it's something I'll use and enjoy.

Peter Caputa

Great points, gentleman.

Jeff... I agree that attending (and exhibiting) at those conferences seems like a good way to get a new service that has general appeal to geeks - out to those geeks. Added to the list.

Good point, Nick. Pay for blogging play seems to be a bit risky. But, I think paying bloggers for feedback is appropriate. Technically, it is consulting. If they choose to write it up, that is their choice.

Ken Dyck

Do you really need to pay anybody? Perhaps I'm being naive, but I'd like to think that if the app is any good, a few targeted emails will get you the buzz you need to it off the ground. Word of mouth will do the rest.

I just recently "launched" a bookmarklet for Blogger.com users that helps folks add Technorati tags to their blog posts. After posting the bookmarklet to my blog, I sent a low-key email to the guys at Blogger Buzz informing them of the bookmarklet and suggesting that their readers might be interested to know about it. Within a week they posted an article about it.

The result? Thousands of folks have now found the bookmarklet (though I can't track how many are actually using it because it runs completely in the browser). Many other bloggers have since picked up the story, and I've been basking in the buzz for a couple of weeks, now.

Anyways, my point is that you can probably pick up a small group of early adopters without spending a huge amount of money. If they like it, they'll tell their friends.

Peter Caputa

Ken. I see your point. I'd suggest ( without a lot of thought on the subject), that there are only certain circumstances where this actually works.

Your example is an excellent one. Although your bookmarklet has no business model (except for giving more unjustified link love to technorati), it seems to have benefited from the holy grail of viral uptake... in the hotmail/friendster sense. However, not all services/apps have the advantage of this. There are some criteria that I think need to be inherent in the product, for this to work:

1. It's free. (Cost is not a barrier to trial.)
2. The use of it by one person naturally informs others of its availability. (eg Get your free web mail at hotmail.com)
3. A small amount of time investment required from the user to go from testing the service/product to deriving value (ie drag the bookmarklet to your browser).
4. Any others?

I tend to think that beyond the application development and positioning, that marketing techniques and advertising campaigns are still necessary to reach the rest of the population for the majority of services. For example, if your bookmarklet was a business and you wanted to get it out to the rest of the millions of blogger.com users, how would you reach them? And how would you reach them before somebody else copied your idea and got it to them first?

All this said, if the product isn't "any good" or isn't revolutionary, than it might not be worth spending all the effort to market and advertise it.

So, a few emails to a few connectors, is a great way to start out.

Of course, all this is fairly hypothetical. But, I think it is a great conversation to be having. Although, I've been working on WhizSpark for 3 years, we really have just launched our product 3 months ago. I am also doing some consulting work for some people to help them with ideas for marketing their services. And we are weighing a launching a new application, which I think satisifies all 3 of the requirements above.

Ken Dyck

Peter, you're absolutely right, of course. My low-key approach probably won't work very well for a lot of web applications, but I can see it working for some, especially those that have the characteristics that you mention.

Dev Purkayastha

I think you can get the most mileage out of finding a niche or core user base to start it up and keep it going, just like the "Democracy for America" Meetups were the core constituency fo Meetup.com for a while, and more groups grew out of it's popularity.

pete caputa

Very good point, Dev. Reaching critical mass in a single niche makes it easy to expand to other niches.

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