Hope Is Not A Plan

I was recently talking to a few app developers. Here is how one conversation went after a demo of the product.

Me: “Looks cool. How do you plan to market it?”

He: “I am going to put it up on the app store”

Me: “And?…”

He: “If we build a great app, they will discover it”

Me: “They? “

This is a typical conversation I have with many product startups with a few variations. The entrepreneur gets a bright idea and builds something and hopes for some magic.

  • “If we build an outstanding product, they will find it and recommend it to others” – hope
  • “If we put it up on the app store and create the right categories, it will be discovered” – hope again

You can see where this is going. You need a plan. If you have not done one before, start with a few questions:

  • How will a prospect discover your website? ( I use website as a proxy for app/product/service)
  • Once they come, what will make them stay for a while?
  • What will make them come back again and again?
  • What will make them remember you when the need arises?
  • What will make them try your product or service?
  • How will you know whether people find your product or service useful?
  • How can you take a few of those who like your product and recommend it to others?
  • What can you do to create compelling stories that others can tell about your product?
  • How can you evolve your product in such a way that people can make money out of it? This may be the most compelling reason for them to buy it.

There may be 100 such questions you may want to ask yourself. For each question, write down your own answers. They are still hypotheses. Do small experiments to verify your hypotheses one by one. Some experiments will work and some may not. By calling them experiments, you don’t really get attached to them.

Are there other questions, you can think of?


I borrowed the term “Hope Is Not a Strategy” ¬†from a personality very much in the news and modified it. You may know who he is.

2 thoughts on “Hope Is Not A Plan

    1. Thanks. Actually that was my original title for the post. But the term “Strategy” scares people. It seems like such a high level thing. So I switched it to “Plan” and threw in a teaser. Any one following American Presidential election will have no problem recognizing that quote. In fact, that is the only punch line of Romney, I like.

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