Why Some Apps Just Don’t Need Marketing

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Disclaimer: An app, like any product, has to be marketed, promoted, and endorsed by techies and journalists alike in order to stand a chance in a market that contains over 500,000 competitors in the Apple App Store alone. You can’t just throw your app into the market and wait for divine intervention of mass discovery to take place.

A successful app requires a well-rounded mix of product and marketing—knowing the ins and outs of your market, and making sure you have a top-notch team of developers and programmers behind you.

Yet every so often, there are apps that refuse to play by the rules. Whether it’s due to sheer luck, a great app concept, or utter bizarreness of the idea, there are apps that virally explode without any marketing support whatsoever. These are the underdogs of the app world. They attract their own attention. They go viral by word of mouth or word of click.

Here’s how 5 extraordinary apps took off without spending thousands of marketing dollars.

Radiohead’s Album Download – Radiohead knew that they were just one of 12,000 albums to be released this year. Furthermore, they lacked a label or distribution partner to get their album ‘In Rainbows’ noticed. So they created a self-funded campaign and promoted the price of the album as ‘Pay What You Want.’ This alone created enough buzz around the album for Radiohead to compete with bands backed by labels, promo teams and marketing gurus.

Draw Something – Very few of us managed to escape Draw Something fever. Despite having to reinvent themselves several times and learning from many less successful products and app launches, OMGPOP, the company that created the mobile game, was finally able to dominate the App Store—without any press! “There was nothing written about us,” says Dan Porter, the CEO of OMGPOP. ‘‘Reporters weren’t interested. I tried, but I couldn’t even get their attention.” So what is the secret of success? Porter’s explanation: Draw Something is just awesome—and social.

My Last Wish Social Network – Simply put, the weird and the wonderful are bound to get noticed. My Last Wish is an app that is as divisive as it is unique, created to help people who want to meet others with similar wishes before they die. Definitely a bit morbid, and certainly out of the ordinary, the app already has a following. Posted wishes range from traveling the world to writing a book. The company’s CEO Kirtan Thaker says that the ultimate goal behind the app is to help people make friends that share similar hopes and dreams.

Doodle Army – Since 2010, Doodle Army has had approximately 2,000,000+ downloads, with only $200 spent on marketing this app to date. There have obviously been countless hours of time and dedication poured into getting this app right, demonstrating that if you get it very right, customers will do the marketing for you!

Trism – Steve Demeter and his app Trism netted him $250,000 in just two months. Legend has it that Demeter worked on this app part-time after work, costing him only his time and $99 as part of the App Store publisher fee. Obviously, there is far more behind the scenes to this success—a lot of hard work and effort, being a talented programmer and game developer, as well as being in the right place at the right time—but the headline of a successful app on a minimal marketing budget is still a nice story.

While these success stories will never disappear (there will always be special column inches reserved for those apps that go viral without the backing of a huge marketing budget), they are becoming rarer as the market becomes increasingly competitive.

But if you want to give your app a chance at a success story—or at least greatly reduce your development costs—give Conduit Mobile a shot. Just saying…