"That startup is boosting users by buying traffic for its app!" is what a serial entrepreneur observed this weekend during our discussion.
He meant that a related new enterprise had recorded rising numbers of users. That suggested a sign that the app was staging to go viral. But after some research the findings revealed the growth numbers emanated from hundreds of thousands of dollars spent to purchase traffic and users.
That reminded me of a trustworthy adage from wise serial entrepreneurs:
"You can't win a race running on crutches."
Neither can startups.
Unless you are competing in the Special Olympics, your crutches are a sign of a fundamentally weakness: you are in an undesirable position, unable to compete to win.
In other words, if your app is not compelling to end users, all the extra things you to to try to get users to get excited and use it are doomed to flop. A dead horse is a dead horse.
All the PR and blogging and shouting will not produce something insanely great if it is not insanely great.
If it is insanely great, you'll find users quickly raving about your app, spreading the word "Gotta have it!" to friends around the planet, all at no cost or effort to you.
After that it's up to you to reenforce their enthusiasm, contribute to the viral momentum (by continuing to deliver what your Ideal Customers eagerly are seeking), and enjoy the fruits of your hard, creative work with the users. That's what "marcom" pros, marketing communications professionals, are skilled at.
I don't mean that the app/product/service will sell itself. You'll have to put in a ton of hard work, be very creative and execute with skill and great effort.
I do mean that dressing up a dog in a beautiful gown does not overcome reality: it's still a dog.
This is why serial founding CEOs focus on making an app/product/service so "insanely great" that end users rave about it and can't wait to Tweet, Facebook Like, email, blog and spread the word around the planet. The startup winners avoid artificial traffic generation efforts, pushy PR work, and blog influencing because they have their hands full keeping the servers from crashing as thousands of end users/customers make accelerating purchases by the hour.
BOTTOM LINE: Going viral is a natural phenomenon. Trying to artificially boost traffic and end users only produces a brief rise in the inevitable curve of a mediocre app/product/service. As founder CEO, it's your job to morph what you have into what the end users rave about. Then your startup will "go viral" naturally. That will be the sign eagerly sought for by experienced startup employees, strategic partners and investors, as well as eager bloggers and reporters. When you can produce products like that, you are onto the path of the winners. It's a key part of how serial entrepreneurs build their unfair advantages.
I wish you The Best on your Adventure!