Let’s talk about one of the most essential steps in your successful app launch- Market Research.
Now doing thorough market research may seem a trifle unsexy, but far too many overeager app entrepreneurs turn their research into something downright boring. This is a total waste of energy and time.
Boredom only insures that-
- You’ll become less focused.
- You’ll make unnecessary mistakes.
- You’ll quit too early and/or…
- You’ll spend the least time completing the most vital tasks.
The harder you work on exploring your potential market, the greater your chances are of becoming a successful app entrepreneur in one of the most competitive business ecosystems in the world: the AppStore.
The key to solid, useful, essential market research is- instead of making it boring, make doing your research a breeze.
To simplify this essential step, I’ve split the process into two parts.
The first part is all about zooming in as much as possible on your target audience. You need to know how your audience eats, sleeps and breathes.
I call this going MICRO on your target.
You need to get inside the head of your audience because only when you truly know your audience will you be able to shape a product that they’ll not only love, but a product that will become their next healthy addiction!
Too many app builders fail to make that connection with their audience and so consequently build a product that is-
a) Not wanted or needed.
b) Fails to match the needs of their target.
c) Fails to solve a problem the target audience is experiencing.
So be warned- Not knowing or understanding exactly who your target audience is can very easily cause disastrous failure right out of the AppStore gate. So use your time like the precious investment that it is. Putting a few hours in some extra digging will always be much cheaper than completely relaunching your app.
Trust me, I know this from first-hand experience.
Going M.I.C.R.O on your target audience
So what is going MICRO?
The word micro is actually an acronym-
Every letter is a step in the process of getting to know your target audience. Sometimes an action might feel obvious or logical; that does not matter. You need to internalize the audience you’re after and after going from M to O you’ll truly understand your target audience and be ready to pull them IN!
The trick to minimalism is not to overcomplicate things so think- Less is More.
The minimalist philosophy leads directly to being more productive and efficient. Therefore, to begin the MICRO method of defining your target audience you should focus on only one single sentence! That’s where the word minimal thrives.
This sentence should be a descriptive sentence.
Here’s a minimal example- My target audience is a tech-savvy teenager who plays field hockey and sends more than 30 daily Snapchats.
The trick is to fill your sentence with as many details as possible regarding your target.
In an earlier post, we’ve already covered the essential characteristics of your target audience so you should’ve spent some time thinking about the gender, age, occupation, etc. Great. Now it’s important to go into more detail. And this single ‘minimal‘ sentence will help you to precisely define your audience. It’s also a question you might very likely encounter when courting investors. Investors will ask about your target market. The more you can zoom in on the specifics, the better your odds are of scoring crucial capital for investment (but that’s for later).
To-Do: Write a sentence that describes your target audience in detail. This sentence should include at least 5 Facts about your audience.
Example: Connectinator app
My target audience is best described as a highly-ambitious, socially-active, well-connected, tech-savvy, social media active-single male who works more than 10 hours a day on average, after graduating with a business degree, and currently has a hard time interacting with his business network while watching Casey Neistat vlogs on the side (Casey quit vlogging while writing this post..).
As you can see, I’ve packed in a great deal of detailed information in there. This is because I like to make my target audiences as specific as possible. You can make the sentence as long as possible so long as you can by packing in a lot of conjunctions (“and”, “while”, “after” and “before”). Don’t stress about the grammar because it doesn’t matter for now.
Bonus Tip 1: Memorize your sentence like it’s your jam! Internalize it. The moment you internalize your minimal sentence and know it by heart, you’ll be able to spot your potential audience wherever you go. Just keep your head up and eyes open and you’ll find potential users everywhere. And the more potential users you can find in and around your own life, the more motivated you’ll be when working on your app.
Bonus Tip 2: When locating those potential users- Never neglect to connect! Approach these potential users and swap deets. Try to get their contact information and let them know your working on this tool, game, social app that might interest them. Then add these users to a list that you’ll contact the moment your app launches.
Yup, you will have to do some scribbling in this step.
So you’ve added some specifics about your target audience at the minimal step. Now it’s time to go visual. Get some pen and paper out and start drawing your target audience. But don’t just start anywhere, think it through. Just start by drawing a man, woman, girl, boy, etc. Cover it up with clothing and work your way up from there. Again, the more details the better. Add in the gadgets, accessories, every little detail you can come up with. Use the minimal sentence to guide you and don’t worry if you’re no Van Gogh (because you won’t be selling your art, just your app).
If you have no clue on how your target audience looks, think of a person around you that matches your target audience. Think of a person you found when utilizing Bonus Tip 2. Use that person to illustrate your target audience.
Check out this drawing I made for the Connectinator App-
As you can see, I tried to add in as many details as possible. You should do too.
To-Do: Pick a person in your environment that fits your target audience. Observe how this person looks, what type of appearance this person has and use these specific visual characteristics when drawing your target audience. Remember to add as many details as possible. Add in brands, items. The more specific you are, the better.
Pro Tip: Add in brands names and logos. Knowing what brands your audience likes will help you market your app more effectively later.
Now that you’ve spent some time drawing up your target audience, the time has come to actually get into their heads. Getting in anyone’s head-especially those you’ve never met– is a tricky task. People study psychology to learn this skill and it’s an inexact science that’s never easy and rarely definitive. But there are some reliable tools to use when your goal is to “crack the safe”of your audience.
But before you get cracking, you’ll need to know how they think and what kind of character they maintain. To help you out a bit, check out the image below. We’ll use this picture to sketch a character that fits your audience based on their particular character traits. This defining of character traits is first step in understanding how they think.
From every box, pick a character trait from every row.
So for example, your target audience could have the following characteristics: Nice: Caring, Open Mean: Insensitive, Sad, Moody Positive: Active, Adventurous, Negative: Inactive, Indifferent, Positive: Honest, Negative: Reactive, Confident: Sure of Themself, Nervous: Uncertain. Opposites: funny and loud.
So step one is done and you’ve picked some character traits, great job. Unfortunately, you’re not done yet.
Now let’s do the next step together using the traits I picked that fit the audience of the Connectinator app.
Below I have set out the list of traits I picked and next to them I’ve set a particular situation in which this quality becomes apparent. Use the traits to describe your target audience in even more depth.
- Nice: Bright – He strives to be top of his class everywhere he goes
- Mean: Spoiled – He thinks he earns a good living and will always take a big cut for himself, while not harming others by doing so.
- Sad: Unhappy – He’s never truly happy with his own situation and always looks at the greener grass of his neighbors.
- Does a lot: Ambitious – Going for the next big thing is what he wakes up for every morning.
- Does very little: Lazy – He hates being unproductive.
- Positive: cooperative – Getting there is something you can’t do alone, and he knows this. Working together is a must if he wants to reach his ambitious goals.
- Negative: Conceited – In his work and his lifestyle he thinks of himself as something others want to be.
- Confident: Independent – He lives, works and does his best for himself. He needs little or no help from others, especially financially and emotionally.
- Nervous: Anxious – He can tolerate a high lever of stress in his working and private life. It’s something he’s dealt with for many years.
Opposites: Calm & Serious – Being calm gives him focus and makes him see through the distractions around him. Being serious makes him respected, making him look wise and educated. Being considered as an intelligent person is something he wants to be known for.
Here’s the trick that’s been applied.
- Pick your character traits.
- Define them in detail.
Your target is coming to life now.
Bonus Tip: This is not exactly a bonus tip but more of an explanation for the tricks used above. The method that I’ve used is commonly utilized by writers when building a persona for their stories. The more details you add to a character, the more it will come alive. The more this person comes alive, the better you’ll be able to understand the character. Once you understand that character, you’ll be able to find that person.
And then you’ll be able to corral him/her into using your app.
Every day has only 24 hours. In these 24 hours the average person sleeps about 6-8 of those hours so that leaves about 16 hours left in which each of us is actually awake. It’s your goal as an app entrepreneur to persuade your target audience to use your app every second your target is awake.
By thinking of the moments when your user would most likely use your app during a regular day. By moments I mean snippets of the day. We app builders make a living on app usage and no app can be successful when it’s not being used. Knowing the moment when your app is best used is a crucial building block for defining your target audience.
To be successful you need to completely understand your user’s routine. When you know there every day routine, you’ll know when they use their phone. Once you know what their routine is, you can model your app around this routine.
The Routine Step is best described when using an example. So let’s take a look at a typical Connectinator app users day. I’ve written it down in hourly chunks using a typical Monday-
- 7:00 – Wake up, shower, brush teeth, check email (on phone), check news (on phone) and push-ups.
- 8:00 – Eat breakfast, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram watch a vlog, drink coffee, commute to work by car and listen to podcasts in the car.
- 9:00 – Focus on work
- 10:00 – Focus on work
- 11:00 – Focus on work, uses LinkedIn
- 12:00 – Focus on work
- 13:00 – Lunch, read news, facebook, twitter, Instagram.
- 14:00 – Focus on work
- 15:00 – Focus on work
- 16:00 – Focus on work, use LinkedIn
- 17:00 – Focus on work
- 18:00 – Focus on work
- 19:00 – Commute home, listen to podcasts in the car
- 20:00 – Eat dinner, watche some youtube videos, facebook, twitter, check LinkedIn.
- 21:00 – Work on side project / read / Meet with friends
- 22:00 – Work on side project / read / Meet with friends
- 23:00 – Work on side project / read / Meet with friends
- 24:00 – Work on side project / read / Meet with friends
- 01:00 – Bedtime
Now that I’ve spelled out a typical day, a few things become immediately apparent. I see that most of the free time this person has is on three distinct occasions-
3) After dinner.
Because the morning is regularly packed with rushed routine activities, morning routines are hard to crack. The Connectinator app relies heavily on user retention based on push notifications. I personally hate app push notifications during my morning because they stress me out. So I spared my target audience this stress.
So that left only the midday and the after-work hours. But most mid-days are packed with thoughts about work that needs to be finished following the lunch break. Getting bombarded with push notifications is not something that will smooth out your day. Given this routine fact, receiving reminder push notifications at those times might actually do you more harm than good.
So finally the after-work period remained as prime time.
A typical Connectinator user will use the app at that time. This is a moment where the user has his mind relatively free of work responsibilities and will be far more receptive to being reminded of a particular task. In the case of the Connectinator app, a task to catch up with a contact you haven’t spoken in a while.
The target audience I’ve defined likes to be busy during his evening hours.
This means we need to catch him at the time when he is most receptive to spend some time in the app. I believe this will be right after dinner. This is the moment when he grabs his phone to check messages, updates, etc. But immediately we analyze a threat when it comes to user attention. The user hasn’t checked his phone in some time which means he probably has a number of status updates, chats and message notifications. The phone’s screen will likely be cluttered with notifications. This means it will be hard for the user to focus on that single notification from the Connectinator app. Does this mean the chosen moment (right after dinner) is a bad moment?
No, it does not.
It simply means that the chosen moment is not yet perfect and therefore will require a more in-depth study of the user’s behavior to locate an even better moment to use the app.
In a later chapter, we’ll zoom in more to find that “sweet spot” when it comes to grabbing the user’s fullest attention.
The final step of going MICRO is about opening your eyes.
It’s time to go deep into the jungle and observe your specimen in his/her native habitat. Examine all the work you’ve completed so far. With even a quick glance at your work, you should have a pretty in-depth understanding of your potential app user already.
Use this collected information and go out into the world and find this potential user. So how do I find my potential user?
That part’s easy- just describe your potential user to the people around you. Don’t go into to much detail but be specific, which you can do since you’ve completed the steps above. Ask the people around you if they know a person that fits the description. I’ve never come across a target audience that was completely unknown to the people around me. More than 50% of the time, after describing your user, friends will tell you: “That sounds like Joe/Jane to me.”
And there you have it, you just need to find “Joe/Jane” now. Just ask for contact information and arrange a call or meeting.
The next step, of course, is to actually speak in person.
Before you dive into your questions remember to explain to Joe/Jane why you wanted to talk to him/her. Tell them you’re working on an app that you think might fit their lifestyle. When they inevitably ask- “What kind of app?”- be vague and do not go into details. They don’t need to know upfront what you’re working on.
But do ask them about their day, their fears, their habits. Ask them what they like, what they dislike, where they like to hang out. Ask them about friends. Ask what they read. Ask which celebrities they likes. Ask which companies they likes. Take notes and be specific.
After you finished your little interview then, and only then, tell them what type of app you’re making. Observe their reaction and ask them why they reacted that way. When they reacts surprised, ask them why they’re surprised? If they start laughing and tell you they would never use the app, ask them why. Asking Joe/Jane the “why question” is critical here.
This is the final piece you needed to collect.
Wrap up the meeting and ask if they would like to be part of the beta testing group, then collect online credentials to keep them in the loop later on when launching the app.
Bonus Tip 1: Talking with only one person is not a good idea. Try to find as many people to interview as possible. I usually try to speak to more than ten people when building an app. But don’t talk to more than 15 people. Stay active during this process. It could very well be that you totally defined the wrong target audience for your app. My rule to know for sure is this-
If/When 2 out of three people you’ve interviewed react negatively way once you tell them about the app, it’s a clear sign you defined the wrong target audience.
Defining the wrong target audience (Very low probability)
Only read the following text if you failed completely when defining your target audience (if you’ve nailed it, simply continue to the next step).
Unfortunately for all of us, defining the wrong target audience is a something that happens frequently (but especially with beginner app builders). Misjudging your target audience is all too common so don’t feel bad if it happens to you at first. I look at it this way- It’s better to find out before a single line of code is written than to find out after you’ve poured in countless hours building/launching your app only to find out that nobody you thought might want to use it, actually wants to use it.
So what to do next when I have defined the wrong audience?
There is some good news.
Because you’ve already a target group which is not the right fit for your app, so you’ve learned vital information by going through this process. You’ve checked off this specific audience. If look at it from this perspective, you’ve won big time.
Being absolutely certain a specific target market is not your audience is very valuable information.
The best way to go from here is to define a target audience which is 180 degrees different.
You go from man to female, from nerd to jock, from hard-rock lover to classical music lover, from vegetarian to meathead, you name it. Flip all of the characteristics around and you’ll be heading in the proper direction to success.
Once you have this new target defined (you should be able to rapidly move through the steps since you’ve done them before) repeat Step 5 and go out and find this person. Go through the interviewing process again and see how he or she reacts.
What if this person isn’t your target audience again? Don’t worry because you’re almost there!
You’ve just defined the two extremes of your target audience. This means that there is a higher probability of hitting the sweet spot right in the middle. And your audience will be somewhere in the middle so keep mixing and matching characteristics/attributes from both extremes of your target audiences.
Still having trouble defining your target audience? Ping me up and let me know how I can help 🙂
See you on the flipside.