I am a developer.  I am not a marketer and I don’t ever want to work in marketing.  I am also a one man shop, so if it needs to get done, I’m the one doing it.  So – I guess I am a marketer and I aspire to do it (part time) for a living ’cause I dream of doing the indy developer thing full time.  Sound familiar?  There are a great many idevblogaday authors pretty much in the same boat – we love writing code and developing apps, but we also need to figure out the business side of app development if we’re going to prosper.

In this blog post I want to go over some of the marketing strategies that I’m employing for my upcoming major update to Photo Notes.  I’ll also talk about some of the stuff that I don’t plan on doing.

First, Write a Great App

The best tool app developers have to promote their app is the app itself.  It’s more of a negative option – a great app without marketing may never be discovered, but a sucky app is guaranteed to fail regardless.  Step one, write a great app.

It’s  a little hard to be completely objective about your own creation, but I think that Photo Notes is a great app.  The comments and ratings on the current version (4.5 stars average – on the free version) generally agree.  I think that the update blows the current version away, so here’s hoping the downloading public agrees.

The Press Release

I am planning to coordinate a press release with the release of Photo Notes. I’ve ready arguments for and against using prMac, but so far my experience has been very positive. I engaged their writing service, and for $80, including distribution, it’s an absolute bargain. I have a press release ready to go that is much better than I could have written. The gent from prMac even signed up as a beta tester and had clearly played with the app – it showed in the writing.
I’ll follow up with a post release blog entry and let you know how it went.

Preparing a Press Kit

I have also prepared a press kit that I plan to upload to my web server. Having never done one of these before I borrowed the ideas in this very useful blog post from Retro Dreamer. I’ll link the press kit when I have it ready.

The Demo Video

I am struggling with this a little. I would like to create a riveting demo video that runs in under a minute. I’m doing this myself, and I’m not sure I have what it takes. If you know of a service that does this at an indy price please leave a comment. I’d love to outsource this and get a great product in return.

Media Outlets and Review Sites

I have no idea how valuable this will be, but I plan on hitting almost everyone on this list. We’ll see if I get any bites. Again, I’ll follow up in a blog post-mortem.

Social Media

I’m a bit of a noob at Twitter, but I have a few followers and I’m tweeting to them semi regularly. I also have plenty of friends on facebook and I’ve created a facebook page for Photo Notes. I’ll milk that for all its worth. If anyone wants to opine on how to use Twitter to promote your app, please leave a comment.

What I’m Not Doing

As far as I can tell, the only thing that has any real impact to your bottom line in iOS app development is your placement in the app store.  If your doing anything that doesn’t directly affect your app store ranking and visibility then you are wasting your time.

I’ve read a number of developer blogs about return on investment for traditional advertising and the consensus seems to be that it just doesn’t work.   So, I won’t be doing any advertising – at least not traditional, or even internet advertising, like google adwords or facebook ads.

I have dabbled with AdMob, and while I think you can get a little bump  in the rankings by advertising there, I don’t know if it is worth it unless you have a pretty significant budget.  For an indy developer with a limited marketing spend, if you do choose to advertise your app, I think that you need to:

  1. advertise where it’s convenient for your users to get your product.  If there isn’t a download button and the ad isn’t being seen on the target device, don’t bother.
  2. advertise the free version in a bid to move it up the app store ranking.  It’s easier to sell free, and the goal is app store visibility, so you get more bang for your buck pushing the free version.

I’m also not planning to pay for reviews ’cause that’s lame.

Well, that’s pretty much it. I would love to get a discussion going in the comments on marketing strategies for indy developers, so please comment away. I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only developer struggling with marketing their app.

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