#ProTip: The best book on marketing for app developers

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AltConf profile
Matt Ronge and Giovanni Donelli, the indie devs behind Astropad, a hit app that turns an iPad into a graphics tablet.
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We’re down here at WWDC, fishing for ProTips. It’s rich hunting ground. WWDC is the world’s biggest gathering of Apple developers, the alpha geeks, experts par excellence. What’s a ProTip? A ProTip is a nugget of knowledge, a little bit of expertise from someone in the know — a pro.

Astro HQ is a two-person indie software company that launched its first app in February.

Run by two ex-Apple engineers — Matt Ronge and Giovanni Donelli — their app was successful. They’re now making their livelihoods from their software. They’re living the dream! Independent app developers!

They’re as rare as unicorns.

Only 0.01 percent of app developers are financially successful, according to a depressing survey by Gartner.

Ronge and Donelli did a lot of things right, including their own app marketing, which they say was key to their successful launch.

They did the app marketing themselves, with no prior experience, and a lot of what they learned was thanks to one book.


The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk!
The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk!

The book is The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk! by Al Riess and Jack Trout. (It’s available here from Amazon).

“It’s old book but I really recommend it,” said Ronge during an Alt Conf talk entitled “Lessons in app PR: How to Launch.”

“I read a lot of marketing books and most of them are fluff,” Ronge added afterwards. “This was all good, concrete stuff. Very short and very actionable.”

Ronge and Donelli’s app is called Astropad. It turns an iPad into high-end graphics tablet. It mirrors a portion of the Mac’s screen on the iPad, allowing it to be manipulated with a pressure-sensitive stylus. “You can draw on your Mac using your iPad,” said Ronge.

They launched the app in February, and it was an immediate hit, thanks in large part to all the attention and press they generated. They were featured on The Verge, The Next Web, Business Insider and more. Their DIY PR drove a ton of traffic to their site and created wide awareness of their app, which translated into more than 50,000 paying customers.

PR is often overlooked by indie developers. But one of the biggest hurdles in the overcrowded app store is just letting the world know you even exist.

“It was way beyond our wildest dreams,” said Ronge. “We hoped to get that but we never expected it.”

Ronge can be followed @mronge.

Do you agree? Is there a better book out there?

Tune in for more ProTips here. We’ll be publishing them from WWDC all week.