In a pitch meeting with Dave Whorton of Tugboat Ventures a few weeks ago he said something that struck a chord with me as an entrepreneur.
Give people the opportunity to evangelize your product.
He went on to give a few examples of products that do it well:
The Nest Thermostat is a thermostat that uses machine learning to save energy (and money) on your energy bills, but Nest also has an iPhone app that lets you control your thermostat remotely. Dave’s point here is that that iPhone app is not core to the experience of Nest at all. No one has ever controlled their thermostat remotely before, and only a very small percentage of users will actually regularly use the iPhone app to do so. Do you know what people do use the iPhone app for? To show their friends all about their cool new Nest, even when they aren’t at home.
Another product that uses an iPhone app in the same way is the Chevy Volt in conjunction with their OnStar RemoteLink app. The iPhone app is way outside of the core features of using a car; however it gives people a chance to evangelize chevy volt’s wherever they go. Instead of having to be near their car, all people have to do is pull out their phone and show people their cool new app.
The key takeaway from Dave’s simple comment is that if you want a strong word-of-mouth or viral component to your distribution strategy it doesn’t have to be limited to social networks. Make a good product, then give people the chance to evangelize for you.