Distribution: Part Three on Bringing a Web Application to Market

This is the final part of our series on design, development and distribution — the process of getting a product, specifically a web based application, to market. In the edition that covered design it was pointed out that the first step to making an idea manifest is to think very clearly about what needs could be filled by the technology at your disposal. In development we looked at how we could build that idea out into a functioning entity. In this final part we discuss how we got all this wonderfulness that has taken so much time and effort to create to the people who matter most — the people that might actually want it.

“The first question you have to ask is, “Where are the people you are trying to reach right now?” What blogs are the people you are trying to reach reading and go and talk to those bloggers and try to get them to write articles about you. Buy advertising on their site.

“You can do bizdev deals with companies that are already selling into that channel. You can also do the affiliate model where other people can advertise for you and you pay them based on how many conversions take place.

“You can also provide branded content by providing a monthly or weekly email which shares information about your industry which in turn gets shared around. You are building your brand while you are helping people get information about what is relevant to them.

“A good recent example of sending out emails is Hootsuite. One of the things they started recently was Hootsuite University where they teach people how to use social media tools. Of course, one of the tools they teach people how to use is the Hootsuite application. They are really giving value back to the community but they are also building their brand up for themselves.”

There are other means to let people know about the web application you have built:

  • Search Engine Marketing: Ads appear as part of the search results for the keywords related to your business.
  • Search Engine Optimization: Where you optimize the content on your page to show up as one of the top results when people type in a relevant word.
  • Social Advertising: Advertising on Facebook or other social networks. The opportunity there is to be able to reach to the demographic that most closely resembles the demographic for the people who would care most about your business. 

    “If you were trying to sell t-shirts you would probably look at those people who are 15-25 years old. And if you are t-shirts are do with cars you try and place them on the pages associated with cars on Facebook and so on.”

  • Public Relations: Getting the press and different bloggers writing about you and your company.
  • Promotions and Competitions:There are companies like Wildfire which can help with putting different types of promotions together.

“Another part of distribution is about retention and referrals. How do people talk about your application? Do you make it easy for people to refer? When people land on your page, how do you activate them and get them involved?

“Bizdev, sales and marketing are encompassed within distribution. But these are are all just terms. The reality is, how would the the person who would be interested in your product find out about your product. If they don’t know about it right now then why do they not know about it? How can you reach them?

“It comes back to the we discussed in the articles on design and development. Certain people know the general area of a topic and other people are very good at certain specifics.

“You need to find the man or woman who is best at adwords campaigns, the best person at running social media, the best person to be your community manager and it is not always going to be the same person.

“As an entrepreneur you have to be able to coordinate things in such a way that you get the best people into certain roles.

“You have to recruit the best people for the specific role and you probably aren’t the best person to do all those roles. However, you have to understand all the parts of your business to be able to communicate with the brilliant person who is doing it for you. You have to build a rapport with that person so that they have respect for you and that they know that you have respect for them.

“People will share good things. If people like something they will tell their friends about it and share it. That is how things really go viral. With Groupon people see this good deal and then they post it on Facebook and say, “Who wants to come kayaking with me?” Then their friends sign up. It is a simple sharable concept with instant gratification.

“All this stuff together is distribution — there is no silver bullet. With a lot of web applications you have to do many, many things.”


You can watch Fergus give a talk on design, development and delivery from his presentation at BlogTalk 2010 in Galway last year.

Special thanks to Dave McClure for letting us use the main image in this article.

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