Bootstrap marketing an app launch. by@darlingdash

Bootstrap marketing an app launch.

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Tim Allison
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If you’re a small startup you are your advertising agency. You’re responsible for positioning the brand, setting the tone of voice and steering the creative direction. Thinking about your advertising is paramount and it doesn’t mean you’re a mad man to plot your global ad campaign.

Building up to the launch of Plane we’ve been creating content and brainstorming marketing ideas. Of course, some are more practical than others and almost all of them have been done on a small budget. In this post I’ll share with you some of the basics we’ve done, along with advice on how we’re thinking about what advertising is to us.

Breaking it down:

  1. Inspired by NYC
  2. Take a Shot
  3. Be specific Now
  4. Lens Flare Beware
  5. Get out of office
  6. Headliners
  7. Medium is the Medium
  8. What it looks like

1. Inspired by NYC.

Taking this photo last year in NYC inspired this post. We all know tech has gone mainstream and when you see a huge Snapchat logo in Times Square rubbing shoulders with the biggest brands on the planet it says it all.

We’re all aiming for scale and success and of course we can’t pay for the same spots as Snapchat. But we can think about how we communicate our products to the consumer on the street.

What would your campaign look like in Times Square?


Snapchat in Times Square.

2. Take a Shot.

We live in a visual world. People have an emotional connection with imagery and as the old adage goes ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’.

In the old days products would pay agencies to pay photographers to pay models loads of money to shoot ‘hero images’. Nowadays you can skip that and get your hands on an image to work across your brand. We used Splitshare and chose this one.

What image do you see when you think of your business?



Featured on Product Hunt ‘Popular’ :)

Be Specific Now.

Talk to Specific Press. Build relationships with journalists who cover your market specifically. You may not get the tech-reach associated with startup press but you will connect with your target users. We spoke to the Copenhagen Post long before we talked to anyone else.

We invested an afternoon with the journalist and invited them to see the place we work. Not only was the article of a high quality it was also a good lesson in working with the media and refining your message.

Lens Flare Beware.

Design a product video that introduces users to your UI, brand and core functionality. Don’t use humans, animals, coffee shops, lens flare or fixie bicycles. Just UI. Just Functionality. When you are a big success, you can of course work with Sandwich Video.

We also wrote and own the music that accompanies the video.

Get out of office.

We designed and printed 500 ‘boarding pass’ flyers. We jumped on the Copenhagen Metro and also hit coffee shops and visited other businesses in and around where we work. The first question we were asked typically was ‘do people still use QR codes?”. The second question was “tell us some more about the app then?”.

It’s an affordable and interesting way to acquire new users and you’ll be out of your comfort zone. When talking to random strangers you’ll have to present and talk about your product in different ways.

How do you explain your startup to someone not involved in tech?



Public speaking is a great skill to practice. We were invited to present Plane at the #CPHFTW event in Copenhagen to 600 people. Not only does this help you practice your live pitch skills but it creates media you can reuse in your marketing. We were contacted the day after the event by the photographer to see if we wanted copies of the photos she had taken. These photos are now part of our media pack.

When’s the next time you can get up and talk about your startup?


Presenting Plane at #CPHFTW Oct 2015

Medium is the Medium.

Medium is perfect for storytelling and sharing your progress with an engaged audience. If you’ve done some of the above, the post should write itself. Try and find an interesting angle and genuinely write the piece to be enjoyable, honest and helpful.


Expect Medium to become the publishing tool for most in 2016.

What it looks like.

When the time comes to execute on your advertising campaign give some thought to the tone of voice you want to create and and the personality of the ad. Our perspective was a simple play on words that included a CTA.



Plane is a social icebreaker. Connect with new people in new places. Find people to share likeminded ideas with or simply find out what’s going on around you.

We’re really excited Plane is now available for you to use. You can download it for free for IOS. (Android coming soon) We have lots planned and would love to hear from you with any feedback and questions.



We’re going to write a follow up post next week about everything that happened since launch. Including how we were featured by Product Hunt and picked as an ‘app to watch’ at SXSW this year.

Play nice and have a tremendous day.



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