Which Injection Would You Pick

(Part of the 20minute blog challenge)

Yesterday a good friend of mine sent me the picture below with the following text message: “Hi Jur, I know you like thought experiments so that’s why I’m wondering which injection you would pick?”

Below is an overview of the answer I wrote back to my friend.

There are only two potential good answers to this question.

So which ones are just a waste of an injection?

Teleport to any Airport.

I can imagine for people that would love to travel the world, this might sound like an extremely amazing option, but you would be totally utterly wrong.

Think of it this way. What if you picked duplicate money. If you started at 1$, within 50 duplications of that amount you would have more than 100 billion dollars. So when we stick to traveling, what can you do with this money?

First of you could be less selfish than just going for a superpower which you wield only by yourself. Travel is fun because you do it with the ones you love. What is an experience when the only one to experience it with, is yourself? With the 100 billion dollars I would buy a Boeing 747 and fly my entire family out to all the beautiful places in the world. On the way there I would talk with doctors, scientist, innovators, and changemakers on how to spend the money on issues that would benefit the world as a whole.

So teleportation is a selfish choice.

Infinite stamina

This is probably the most useful shot of all of them. Unless you want to be the best at running Spartan Races or marathons… I do not see any use for this super power?

Breathing Underwater

Unless you are a marine biologist or a deep sea diver, I do not see any use for this skill. And again if you love the ocean or marine biology, the infinite money option would be a less selfish act since it would grant you the means of massively cleaning up the ocean and the ability the really preserve wildlife.

Also very useless.

Master any language

In a way, I can understand why people would want this. But for how long will this super power be cool? There are many start-ups right now tackling language barriers. There are companies out there that have the tachnology (special earphones) that can translate conversations of foreign languages in real-time. It will only be a matter of years for language not being a barrier anymore for people all over the world to communicate with each other. So now this is cool, but in ten years you will just be the only one guy on the block that isn’t wearing tiny earphones when listening to a tour-guide speak when in a foreign country. Wooptidoo for that!

So now this is cool, but in ten years you will just be the only one guy on the block that isn’t wearing tiny earphones when listening to a tour-guide when in a foreign country. Wooptidoo for that!

So that leaves me with the final two potential picks:

Instant healing & Duplicate money

But the rule is, you can only take one injection. So you must pick a winner.

Let’s take a look at instant health. What are the pro’s: Well, you’re basically immortal.

You would have the ability to heal yourself to a specific age, that is because age is just nothing more than your body wearing off and losing the ability for cells to heal themselves at the same rate. Being able to heal yourself means you could potentially live forever. You could live through thousands of years and get to have the most incredible life experience a human on this planet will ever have. You get to explore the entire years. You get to have 100’s of different career paths. You get to write all the books you’d like and you get to watch all the movies you wanted since you have unlimited time, that’s pretty cool.

But wait, there should be a drawback, right? And yes there is. When you have unlimited time, this does not mean the people around you have unlimited time too. The ones you love, the people around you, they will all be living a normal human life. Peoples life expectancy might go up, but still, the ones you’d love will die. And you will be left alone with only memories of the people you love. I would not want to have such a life. A life in which everyone around you disappears and you stay behind. I think you would go crazy.

He is so money hungry…

Oke oke, there we go. “Juriaan has tricked me into believing that duplicating money is the best choice.”

Please hear me out. Let me explain to you why. Having the ability to duplicate money will be the most selfless superpower of all. Unfortunately, we live in a world where money makes it go round. If you want to accomplish something, cold hard cash makes it happen. Unless you want to bend rules of doing illegal stuff of course.

Let me explain to you why. Having the ability to duplicate money will be the most selfless superpower of all. Unfortunately, we live in a world where money makes it go round. If you want to accomplish something, cold hard cash makes it happen. From the utmost good to the despicable evil. This means that this superpower comes with great responsibility.

If you wanted to end world hunger, you could save millions of children with money. If you wanted to increase education levels in certain areas of the world, you could build a school every 10 miles and fly out educated teachers and pay them a very good wage. And I can think of hundreds of other amazing deeds you can accomplish with unlimited money.

Money gives you the power to change the world for the better. It grants you the power to stop famine, to stop the disease, to explore space for more habitable planets, it would accelerate science and innovation. When wielded correctly, the money injection can do more good than all the others combined.

So I would pick duplicate money and spend it all to come up with solutions for global problems. The entire human race would benefit from one man taking this injection.

So in the end I asked my friend which one he would pick. He said teleportation and I don’t blame him.

Join the Rat Race or Die

(This post is part of the 20-minute blog challenge I set for myself: Write more blog posts but only post it if you can produce it in 20 minutes. Let’s see how it goes.)

Silicon Valley

Two months ago I was in Silicon Valley. The trip was amazing. It totally opened my eyes.

But something kept haunting my mind over and over during the trip and some weeks after the trip: “These people are all competing in the biggest and brutal rat races on the planet.”

One of the guest speakers even said it out loud. He is a middle aged husband and father who originally comes from my home country The Netherland. He said that he’s waiting for some big ones to go public (IPO’s of previous companies he worked at) so he can cash out and move his family back to the Netherlands.

Don’t get me wrong. This guy has an amazing life out in SF. He is an SEO and growth God and has no hard time getting VP positions at great tech firms, so his career is far from bad. But still, this wonderful person wanted to leave.

He actually said: “I do not want my kids to grow up in this Rat Race”. When he said it, this scared me a little, Silicon Valley and all that is happening there still is my big dream. But what he said, made me think.

Is being part of the rat race something that comes with progress? Is it a price to pay for huge wealth creation and innovation at the same time? Is it something bad, and is it something that you should be afraid of?

I think not. I think it is something good. This rat race drives progress. It drives people to work the 19 a day and not the 9 a day. And for some people it means putting in the 20 a day because he/she suspects their neighbour puts in a 48 stretch during a phase of amazing flow. There is always someone willing to do the job even harder than you.

It is like Gary V says. There is a world that is totally mobile and the rest of the world. There is a world that gives you the rat race feeling and there is the rest of the world. In which world do you want to be? The world where we still do shopping on a regular computer that needs a constant power supply or do you want to live in a world where shopping is done with one-click on your smartphone.

I know which world I want to live in. The world of progress. If the rat race is something I’ll have to swallow, come and get me, I’m down.

As a personal note to end this glorification of a culture that fosters burn-outs and overheating. I do believe hard work should be something which you plan for and which you prepare for. Your body is the best feedback mechanism on the planet. Listen and feel it. When you go to hard you go to hard.

 

Researching your App’s Competition

I have been up against tough competition all my life. I wouldn’t know how to get along without it. – Walt Disney –

So you believe you’re that one rare person that’s come up with the business idea that has absolutely no direct competitors?
Good for you…but you’re probably wrong.
There are just so many of you out there; entrepreneurs with a great idea who each mistakenly believe you’re the only one that’s ever thought of it. The main problem with that thinking is that you haven’t looked hard enough. And when you have looked hard enough and still think your idea is unique, you’re simply thinking the wrong way.
Allow me to explain.

First of all, indirect competition is competition too. Twitter and Facebook are competitors. Why?
They differ in functionalities and experience, right? Nope, wrong!
They are direct competitors, not because of functionalities but on the basis of attention. They are indirect competitors when it comes to function but they’re direct competitors when it comes to fighting for that crucial minute of user attention inside the crowded space of social media.

To be blunt: All apps demand user attention so, in a very real sense, every app is a direct competitor of every other app in the marketplace (OK, this may seem like an overstatement…but it’s essentially true nonetheless). The real trick is to find those apps that fight for your specific user’s attention within your specific categories.

Method One- Use Your Keyword to Search the App Store

In a previous blog post we defined 10 keywords for our app. We will now use those keywords to check out the potential competition.
Simply do the following:

  • Go to the App Store and type in your keywords, one-by-one.
  • Download all the Top Three apps that pop up with every keyword you use.

As you might’ve chosen very general keywords, you’ll likely find that when you search those general keywords you won’t find any apps that match your own idea.
If this happens you can do two things-

1) Make your keywords more specific
2) Leave the general keyword for what it is and download only those rival apps that display similar characteristics (and sometimes the App Store just doesn’t work for research).

  • After you’ve downloaded the rival apps, carefully review all of them and answer the following five questions-
  1. What do I like about this app?
  2. What do I dislike about this app?
  3. Why would a user use this app again?
  4. What is the competitive advantage of this app?
  5. Would users pay for this app? 

Reminder- Remember to write down those rival apps in a list and collect all your data in a single file. We’ll use this data in a later stage.

 

Method Two: Use Your Keywords to Search Google

For this method, we’ll use your keywords again but there’s a minor difference doing research with Google- To make your searches more effective, we’ll use your keywords in a sentence.

To get a clear idea how this works, see the following example I used when building the Connectinator app:

App that reminds you about your business contacts.

As you can see, I used three keywords in this sentence: business, contacts, and reminder. That’s a very simple yet effective trick so combine your keywords into sentences then Google your heart out.

Here’s another example:

App that tracks your business contacts

Mix up your sentences. Add the apps you find on that list and then ask the same five questions-

  1. What do I like about this app?
  2. What do I dislike about this app?
  3. Why would a user use this app again?
  4. What is the competitive advantage of this app?
  5. Would users pay for this app? 

Insider information: When I did this step myself for Connectinator, I found the Bond app. This blew my mind since this app has a similar idea as mine. So I tried the app and asked/answered the five questions:

What do I like about this app? 

  1. The app utilizes many different contact forms to keep in touch (this is very distracting however).
  2. You do not have to sign up for any account (which makes the sign-up process  straightforward).

What do I dislike about this app?

  • When syncing my contacts with the app it fails to sync all contacts. Numbers are missing, this literally means I’m unable to use the app as I want to use it.
  • For some reason which is unexplained, I’m unable to sync my LinkedIn contacts.
  • Hasn’t been updated for a long time, which means some features are not working. This is very frustrating.
  • The push messages were visually ugly and did not include any sense of attractive professionalism or of a personal touch in them.
  • The interface is messy and cluttered. Doesn’t seem at all up-to-date.

Why would a user use this app again?

  • The app sends notifications when it’s time to get in touch with a certain contact. Users get pulled in by these push messages.

What is the competitive advantage of this app?

  • Easy to install, easy to understand, does the trick in a just a few clicks.

Would users pay for this app? 

  • Not in its current state.

Method Three: Use Your Keywords to Search Top App Charts 

When you have more than 15 apps in your list, you can skip this third method. If not, give it a shot and see if you can collect some hidden apps out there.

This method works similarly to the app store keyword method; just fill in your keywords and make combinations. Review the Top Apps and download some that are worth your time. Fill in the questions and collect your data.

Now we use the data you collected

Look for similar apps

Go to the App Store and search the apps you found.
On every app page check out the customers also bought section at the bottom. This part of the page is a great tool to find similar apps so use it to your advantage. Download those apps and fill in your five questions. Do this for every app in your list. Try to expand your list by at least 25% using this tactic.

Check latest updated

This is an overlooked gem which is hiding in plain sight inside the App Store.

Take a look at the updated section of the app. Here lies a crucial bit of information about the app and the success of the app. In this piece of info may hide three signals:

Signal One: last update within three months.
This means there’s a high likelihood that the developers are still actively focusing on their idea. So what now?
Find out how successful the idea is. Find out if the market is big enough for sharing. If not, find out how big their budget is. How?
Check out http://www.crunchbase.com and type in the name. Most companies that get funded have it mentioned on Crunchbase. But I do warn you, once a company has ample funding, you should watch out. I’ve been on this rollercoaster myself, where I was the little guy so beware! Most of the time it does not end pretty…

Signal Two: Last update was longer than six months ago.
This is a tricky one. I know developers that only bring two versions of their app out every year, so using this metric to gauge success is pretty hit-and-miss. But for my extended experience I would say that when an app hasn’t been updated for longer than six months, it means the developer’s quit the app and moved on.
So what now?
There’s a greater likelihood that the Devs dropped their project. This could mean two things-
1) They could not generate enough traction for their product and just ran out of cash.
2) The idea just sucks and nobody wanted to use it.

On the basis of your research you should decide which one of the two is most likely the correct one (I’ve never ended a project on the basis of these two reasons above).Signal Three: Last update was longer than a year ago.
The Devs have quit their project for sure.
Some reasons why they quit?

  • Ran out of cash
  • Idea sucked
  • Bad timing.

If I were you I’d just start with bad timing.
Research the abandoned app like crazy. Try to dig into it and find out why the app died.
Once you know why, you can try to avoid similar mistakes and do a better job on the execution part of being an app entrepreneur.

Read AppStore reviews, and learn from them.

Go through your list of apps and read all the reviews on all the apps you’ve collected inside your competitive space. Regard the reviews as customer feedback before you even have any customers. Using and learning from competitor reviews is a powerful tool you should always keep in your app entrepreneur toolbox.

People that tend to write reviews have strong opinions. They feel the need to share their thoughts or experience. By reading those reviews you’ll get a free glance straight into the brains of your potential users.

Write down all the positive reviews and write down all the negative reviews in your documentation. Take good care in learning those negatives by heart.

Bonus Setup for your continued market research-

Set up some keyword related Google trends
You want to stay on top of the market. Do this by adding some related keywords to your Google trend account. Try to think of as many combinations as possible using the keywords for your app. Add the word app to it. The more specific keyword combinations you’re tracking the better you’ll be in owning the market. You need to know everything that happens inside your competitive space. A good CEO knows the direction his/her market is heading so put this powerful tool to work for you.

Use Google to ask problem-specific questions
This is something you should be doing on a monthly basis. Every month you should type in the problem statements that come with your app idea. Memorize the first 10 pages of Google by heart.

Start with 5 problem statements that are fairly simple to your apps own problem statement. Collect the links from the first 10 Google search pages. Do this to see what articles pop up every month. I do this for some of my companies every month. This method lets me stay on top of trending articles, blogs and news about the competitive markets I swim in.

Ask this question about the problem on Quora- How are users solving it right now?
This is a method I learned from a very skilled and wise entrepreneur. He told me this: “Ask it on Quora, I’m dead serious about it”.
First I was kind of a skeptic regarding this. I read a lot of great articles and answers on Quora but never really considered asking any questions, until I took his advice and did. And…Oh Brother…did I learn a lot about the problems I was solving with my app ideas.

You may want to ask the Quora crowd this simple questions- What tools, tips or tricks are you using at this moment to solve problem “fill in the blank”? You’ll very quickly discover that forum guests will go out of there way to assist you in providing quality answers. and from this pool of active brainpower, you’ll learn a lot.

Use Reddit like Quora
Once you know what categories your app belongs to find a subreddit that fits the category and ask questions similar to those of your Quora Q’s. Trust me, this stuff works.

You’ve done your homework

Now you know exactly what works and- just as importantly– what doesn’t.
You have a clear overview of the market space you will be operating in. You understand the market and know which apps succeed and which fail. This information is extraordinarily valuable. Both consciously and unconsciously you’ve absorbed a great deal of key data and we’ll use this data in later steps while building your app.
Now head over to the next post where we’ll finally start some serious app brainstorming!

 

 

Going MICRO on your Target Market

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-

  • “M” is minimal
  • “I” is illustrative
  • “C” is character
  • “R” is routine
  • “O” is observation.
  • 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!

    Minimal

    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.

    Illustrative

    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-

    connectinator_app_target_audience

    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.

    Character

    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.

    character_traits_target_audience

    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.

    1. Nice: Bright – He strives to be top of his class everywhere he goes
    2. 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.
    3. Sad: Unhappy – He’s never truly happy with his own situation and always looks at the greener grass of his neighbors.
    4. Does a lot: Ambitious – Going for the next big thing is what he wakes up for every morning.
    5. Does very little: Lazy – He hates being unproductive.
    6. 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.
    7. Negative: Conceited – In his work and his lifestyle he thinks of himself as something others want to be.
    8. Confident: Independent – He lives, works and does his best for himself. He needs little or no help from others, especially financially and emotionally.
    9. 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.

    1. Pick your character traits.
    2. 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.

    Routine

    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.

    How?

    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-

    1) Morning

    2) Lunch

    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.

    Observing

    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.

    Again??! 

    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.

    Establishing & Naming your app

    So you’ve already pictured your app idea in your head, and you’ve mentally identified the problem your app is going to solve, that’s a great start. But now it’s time to give your idea some weight in the form of details.
    Let’s begin with the 4 W’s- The Who, the Why, the When and the What?
    These are the key questions that we’ll answer together.
    Why begin here?

    We start here because you need to crystallize your thoughts.
    Answering the 4 W’s puts everything into proper perspective and arranges all your thoughts into a defined order. When you follow the steps to the end of this chapter, you’ll have a full summary (with descriptions) of your app in detail.
    And this summary will be your guiding light moving forward so let’s fire it up!

    1. Who will use your app?

    Defining your target audience.

    You need to be able to visualize that person who’ll be using your app on a daily basis (possibly/hopefully multiple times a day/hour).

    Of course you want to attract users to your app, you want them to enjoy it, and you want them to stick around. Visualizing your target market is a significant step in actually identifying who that reliable user will become. And picking the wrong target audience can mean a quick but still painful death for your app. If you choose the wrong target market, you may or may not have time to recover, relaunch or rebrand, but trust me…you don’t want to go there!
    Thinking hard and deep about a hard target that will get hooked on your app, then visualizing that person in your mind is one key to making your app a success.

    So how do you define that person that will stick around?

    To-Do: Narrow down your target market by answering 5 vital questions. Now many would argue that you need to ask a lot more questions, but I think that’s BS.
    Gender, age, occupation and knowledge of their habits is all you need to define for now (and with every question I’ll explain why).

    The 5 vital Q’s-

    • What is your user’s Gender?

    The simple fact is that females tend to use apps distinctly differently than males. Women tend to be far more social and prefer more social interaction online. Women also tend to stick around longer even if/when they don’t immediately or completely grasp an app. Men, on the other hand, tend to give up quickly and once any app frustrates them, they do NOT return. For men, the value proposition (VP) of the app needs to be strong from the get-go. The underlying behavior here is that the majority of men tend to have less patience online than the majority of women.

    • What is your user’s Age Group?

    App use can also be clearly separated by age group.
    Snapchat is an excellent example of an app that’s dialed in their design and interaction for a very specific target market. They’ve created an interface that’s easily understood and appreciated by teenagers, but much more difficult for older adults to quickly or easily grasp. This is by design. They do this because they want to keep the platform strictly parent-free. Why?
    Because, of course, teens don’t want to hang out in the same online communities as their parents.

    • What is your user’s Occupation?

    The occupation of your potential user tells a lot about what the user wants at any particular moment in time. If, for example, you’re targeting teenagers that most likely are not meaningfully employed yet, your primary goal might be to distract them whenever they’re bored (which might be frequently). Therefore, plan for your app to be used during leisure time and/or school breaks. Prepare for this. It should be an app that focuses on social aspects and/or an app where they can polish their online identity. For teens, the focus on visuals should also be primary (All-text apps are misguided when aiming for an all-teens base).
    If, however, you’re targeting the upwardly-mobile business class, you’re in an entirely different ballpark. Here you might reasonably expect them to want to become more productive and more efficient as a primary goal. So your app should assist them in automating tasks or even handling tasks with minimal effort, like Connectinator does.

    When you know what your potential user does and wants, you can then serve him/her a tailor-made app experience with only one goal- Hooking them, helping them, and then getting them addicted.

    • Where does your user hang out online?

    Human beings tend to be creatures of habit.
    They hang out with the same groups, they look at the same types of movies and they tend to stick to certain comfortable genres. Most people rarely change these hard-wired preferences. Use this information to your benefit. When you know where your users are hanging out on the web, you’ll understand how to approach them. Hooking your initial users will take time and effort but simply attracting your first users is a lot simpler when you know where to find them. Once inside these online locations, you can study them, see what they like and/or dislike, then capably mold your experience and craft your message around their tastes! Also, these online locations are ideal for attracting new users.
    More on that later…

    • What is your user’s personality type?

    Knowing where to find your users is only one side of the coin. The other half is their online behavior.
    Are your potential users searching for online connections? Are they searching for tips and tricks? Are your users there to consume videos and photos? Once you know their online behavior you can then use this information to your advantage. When you know what your user acts like on the web, you can adapt your app’s experience to their behaviours.

    Understanding your target audience is an art, getting inside their heads is a life long journey so don’t expect to hit it out of the ballpark on your first swing. But do NOT overthink it (and sometimes just go with your gut)!

    Now to give you an actual 5 Vital Q example, I’ll share my own answers to the 5 Q’s when I was in the process of building the Connectinator app.

    What is your user’s gender?

    Male

    What is your user’s age group?

    25-45

    What is your user’s occupation?

    Entrepreneur, Freelancer, networker, salesperson.

    Where does your user hang out online?

    Productivity blogs, Tim Ferriss podcast, reads startup and productivity newsletter at the end of the week.

    What is your user’s personality type?

    Workaholic. Someone who’s constantly building out his professional network. Someone who sees value in keeping in touch for future opportunities. Someone who wants to be seen as a super-connector. Someone that because of his extensive network is continually approached by others for help in finding the right people.

  • 2. Why will people use your app?
  • Define your value proposition (VP).

    You might be looking at the term “VP” and thinking- Not again…  Yes, every wannabee in the world is talking about those annoying VP’s, and I do agree with you. The term value proposition is an overused buzzword but nevertheless, it works perfectly and precisely when constructing your app. Defining your apps value proposition will help you to answer the vital question of why you believe your user will love your app.

    Think of your Top Three VP’s (3 is our magic number here).
    Sticking with three keeps the process of building your app simple. Think of these three VP’s as absolutely irreplaceable building blocks of your app (if even one is missing, then nothing works). And of course it’s even better when they each enhance the others. Most of the time the VP of an app is a combination of “must-have” features that give the most benefit to your target audience.

    To clarify this I’ll share the Top Three VP’s I defined for the Connectinator App as a point of reference.

    1. The app keeps track of your business contacts while you focus on the important stuff
    2. The app suggests getting in contact with business contacts you haven’t contacted in a while.
    3. The app helps you collect data about the people you contact and will suggest topics to talk about.

    I’ve identified and established three unique features of the app. These make my app function the way it should. In general, the VP of an app is comprised of the key functionalities that the app must have.

    To-Do: Describe the Top Three VP’s your app needs to have to make it worthwhile for your target market. After defining the value you should know exactly why your target audience will use your app.

    To-Do: Check if the VP’s you’ve defined are aligned with the habits and requirements of your target. If not, something isn’t in line. Look at your notes to determine why there’s no correlation/missed connections. Figure it out and make it work.

    3.When will people use your app?

    Research has proven that the average human being uses only seven (7) apps on a regular basis. Only seven? Yep, that’s not much.
    It’s your task, therefore, to become one of that seven. To do so you’ll need to know when your app will most likely be used. And by when I mean which time of the day. To paint a clearer picture- Think of the apps you open when you’re on the toilet.
    You want to become one of those. That’s the final goal!

    For the vast majority of apps, the timing is not only logical, it’s everything!
    Most people check weather apps before they go to bed and/or when they wake up to see what clothes they should wear. Obvious right?
    With other apps, most people only open them when a particular problem occurs. Knowing the key usage moment will help you to build a better experience for your user when bringing them real value. Your VP’s will be built around these defining moments.
    Take a look at the example of the Connectinator app to understand exactly what I mean.

    For the Connectinator app, the user timing consisted of three key moments.

    1. After office hours: 19:00 – 22:00. Connectinator is an app that works in the background most of the time. The app sends the user a push notification when they haven’t contacted a particular business contact within a defined period. The key is to make this push notification compelling enough for the user to open the app. This push notification should only occur after office hours. That’s because any notification might distract the user while working and, as a result, the user might then ignore the notification altogether if it pops up during office hours. That is something we want to avoid. Connectinator should send out reminders only when odds are highest that a specific user will open the app.
    2. Immediately after meeting a new, interesting business contact. The user opens Connectinator after a meeting, after a dinner or following a conference in order to add new contacts to their list. The user will have to add this contact to their list manually. So right after thye’ve met an interesting business contact they should use the Connectinator app.
    3. When the user has some time for catching up, the taxi, the train, etc. I call this in-between time during business hours. Since in-between time can be just a few minutes, those minutes are crucial. The experience of the app should be tailored so that the user gets maximum value for those minutes.

    The “When” might sound really trivial, but it’s not.
    It will go a long way towards helping you design your app and the interface of your app should be focused around these moments.
    The three essential interface aspects of Connectinator are now defined-
    1) Notifications will draw people back into the app at times when interference with business is off-peak
    2) Adding new contacts must be as seamless as a hot knife slicing through butter. The user needs to feel little resistance when adding new contacts since they might have limited time to do so right after a meeting or during a conference.
    3) When not adding a new contact or when the user is not being pulled back in by a push notification, it should be easy to see the contacts the user hasn’t connected with in a while.

    Using an app is an experience in itself, just like a great meal or a wild rollercoaster is an experience. Knowing when your users will use your app will help you shape an experience that hooks your users all the way to the end, then again and again.

    To-Do: Visualize the moment when your user will open then use your app. Narrow it down to just a moment to keep it as simple as possible. The more specific the moment, the better it is.

    4. What is your app’s Category?

    Tag it up! You need to be able to put your app in a particular category. The category is the theme in which your app lives. This is a list of all the categories in the Apple App Store:

    app-categories

    Defining your category will narrow your focus.
    It will also help you when doing your market research to find out if your app idea is already out there in some other form. In a later stage when you submit your app to the App Store you’ll also have to choose a category. So it’s handy to do so now.

    To-Do: Think of Two categories your app fits- Write them down (and after you’ve written them down, write down why).

    Example: Connectinator App

    1. Business: The app’s target market is business people. The app’s function is focused on keeping in close touch with business contacts as a business utility. It ideally assists you in being more effective in doing business.
    2. Productivity: The app makes life easier. The app works while the user focuses on the work/business. It also reminds user to contact business relations without requiring user to think about it.

    To sum it up (this is the “What” part): Connectinator is an app that makes the lives of business people easier by keeping track of their contacts.

    The Foundation

    When reaching this point, you should have already defined the following Five Building Blocks-

    1) You’ve defined a problem statement.
    2) You’ve defined a compact but useful outline of your target market.
    3) You’ve listed reasons why your target audience will use your app.
    4) You’ve narrowed down exactly when your target audience will use your app.
    5) Finally, you’ve placed your app in a specific category.

    Well done! By knocking this out you’ve focused, you’ve thought it through, and you’ve built an app with only words.

    From now on I will refer to these 5 Building Blocks as “The Foundation.”

    Naming your app

    Every baby needs a name to thrive in the big booming world.
    So at this stage you already have your app name, or you don’t. When you have your app name, great! You can skip this naming section.
    If you haven’t picked yours yet, just follow the steps below to come up with a killer name in a few simple steps.
    As a quick side note- Coming up with awesome names for your app or even your company is not something that can be forced so I urge you to read this section through but don’t feel pressured if at the end of this section, you still haven’t thought of a compelling one.
    This is normal. I always say that a name just comes to you in the process. So there is always a good chance the name will change, or it will just evolve in the process of building your app. So don’t stress!

    The good news however, is that we’ve already constructed a proper foundation and this foundation will assist you when coming up with your baby’s name. The first place this assistance will arrive is in the form of relevant keywords. You need ten keywords before coming up with a solid name. Your app has a general theme which you formed by assigning two categories to your app (and if you haven’t done this step, please do so now). These categories will serve as your first two keywords.
    For example, if you choose Medical and Finance (a combination you don’t see too often) these words will be the first two keywords in your list. Done!

    Now come up with eight additional keywords that are relevant to your app. In my case, I usually read through my foundation and choose words that frequently pop up then I look for synonyms. It’s not that hard. You should have enough information to come up with relevant keywords for your app at this point.

    It’s also important to pick a name that has some relevant explanation in it.
    For example, Evernote, the note taking app. See what they did there? No, I mean it.
    When potential users read and/or hear that name, they connect the app with the idea! For apps that are utility based like note taking apps, I would recommend you put some explanatory word in there, or a verbal reference so that when a user says your app’s name out loud, it rings their bell.
    Remember- vague names, funny characters or very very long names don’t work.

    And finally, your name can’t be more than 12 characters long including spaces (those count as characters too), so less is definitely more! Why is this?
    Because your phone will automatically cut of any app name that has more than 12 characters. I see many first-time app developers make this fundamental mistake. It’s really sad to see your app names on the screen like: Spirrelbeebe… \
    That sucks, so keep it less than 12 characters.

    To-Do: Go through the foundation you’ve put together and come up with ten keywords that match your app.
    Combine these keywords, look for synonyms and mix words up. Make mind maps and scribble away to come up with creative combinations. Just use the keywords as a set of tools for you when brainstorming names.

    After you’ve chosen a version 1.0 of your name, Google the name. Do this to make sure no one’s already claimed it for a product or service of their own.

    Pro tip: Register the domain asap.
    The moment you’re happy enough with a net, buy the domain name as quick as you can. It’s not that you want to build a website with it, it’s just that you never know. Your app could blow up. It comes in handy if, when that happens, you own the domain name.

    Check out this list of keywords I constructed when building the Connectinator App

    Business (category One)

    Productivity (category Two)

    Networking

    entrepreneur

    network

    connecting

    contacts

    reminding

    super-connector

    reminder

    After I’d written down the ten keywords, I wanted to call the app super-connector. As you will have noticed, this name is just too long, so it didn’t work. Connectinator it was and I like it a lot.

    Write a Brief about your app (app summary)

    Now you have-
    1. An awesome name.
    2. You’ve laid the Foundation.
    It’s time to get those notes out and make it look pretty- What is he saying? Make it look pretty, what the heck does he mean by that?
    Well I mean that you need to organize your work. You need to get your information together and prepare it in a way it can be used effectively without spending too much time searching for information. So how do you do this?
    Write a summary.
    This is nothing more than an organized version of all the work you’ve done in the former steps (plus an extra part which is the description, more on that later). First, check out the summary I made for the Connectinator App. As you can see the last part includes an app description. This is where you describe your app as if you would describe it to a potential investor.

    Click the image to see the whole version in PDF format.
    connectinator_app_summary_thumbnail

     

    By completing your app summary, you’ve just built an app on paper. You’ve successfully conceptualized an idea then streamlined it into a paper version of your app. You’ve laid the groundwork and you did it methodically. Congratulations!

    Treat your summary like your MVP 1.0

    Your app is finalized (on paper). You have set the basis for your app. In the basic form, you know what it should do, for who it is and how it will add value to your users. This basis (the summary) is called the MVP 1.0 version for now(minimum viable product). The MVP guides us when making decisions in a later stage of designing and building your app. It’s rough but in depth enough to work effectively.

    Make a Feature Basket

    What is a feature basket?
    It’s a file you create named, appropriately, Feature_Basket.
    The purpose of this file is to fill it with features you come up with during the entire process of building your app. Trust me, you will come up with the oddest features at the most unusual moments. But you need a place to collect these thoughts. I recommend downloading the Evernote app (this is not an endorsement) and create a feature basket file where you can dump all the cool new features that come to you when you least expect it. Later we’ll come back to the feature basket and use it to define the most important features of your app.

    Now prioritize your features. It’s important that you separate your feature basket in two different types of features-
    1) Nice to have
    2) Need to have.
    Whenever you think of a new feature, type it out and immediately classify it with the Nice2Have or Need2have tags.

    Continue to Research the Market 

    Continually researching the market is a key step you should take when building an app. You need to know what’s out there. The app store is a jungle, a very, very competitive jungle. You need to understand this jungle from top-to-bottom. By knowing the market you’re operating in, you’ll be much more able to triumph and become one of those seven apps people use most.
    Good luck!