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ULTIMATE APP MARKETING: START EARLY TO DRIVE BLOCKBUSTER RESULTS

Given the vast amounts of money that can be made with app entrepreneurship, there's little doubt that any good app ideas should be monetized. We recommend 3 key next steps once you've hatched the idea for a "wow!" app. Two of the three involve intelligently making the app ready to go to market. The third is using exceptional marketing tactics to maximize your ROI...

The two biggest business errors app entrepreneurs tend to make is putting off the marketing until almost the last minute or failing to invest in marketing their app at all. Those who recognize the value of app marketing often make the mistake of thinking linearly: get the app completely finished, THEN work on the marketing. Others fool themselves into believing the world is somehow going to beat a path to their door without making that world aware of their door. Great app promotion is crucial to almost all good revenue success stories. This becomes even more important as the volume of competitors going into mobile app stores continues to accelerate. BI can help you avoid these and other common errors and do it all right.

The Optimal Mobile App Marketing Approach Is Similar to Motion Picture Marketing

App entrepreneurs are often surprised to learn that the best marketing approach starts well in advance of the launch. A fair chunk of a good marketing strategy is to market your app like motion pictures are marketed. Long before anyone can be among the first ticket buyers to see a new film, a variety of marketing tactics are employed to build early buzz. Every time you go to the cinema, you see this in an obvious way in the teasers, trailers and "coming soon" posters. There’s also press & entertainment circuit, public relations and social media buzz-building tactics in play well ahead of the premier too. Why spend money on these types of promotions when not a dollar can be made so far in advance? Movie companies invest that marketing budget as part of a clever, extraordinarily well-proven strategy aimed at winning a huge volume of ticket sales the very first weekend the movie comes out. In their business, major opening day(s) revenues are essential as they lead to a chain reaction of potential lifts that can motivate many more people to open their wallets to see the new release.

Software app marketing consultants help you aim for much greater revenues in app salesApps can make a great deal of money for their creators when we employ some of this same kind of marketing strategy. Why spend marketing budget before it’s even possible to sell a single copy of your app to anyone? For the very same kinds of revenue-boosting impacts that motivates those motion picture marketers. What starts off strong tends to be the big money makers. What starts off weak tends to quickly vanish and rarely make much money. Do you want your app to start off strong or weak?

Big revenue ROIs in apps have a fair amount of dependency on roaring out of the gates on the first day they can be sold. With so many brand new apps being released every day, there are app store mechanisms in place to notice the one or two that are winning a good volume of early adoption. These initial revenue victories are rewarded with special, sustained placements in highlight sections of app stores, a crucial catalyst toward winning even more attention from prospective buyers. All these early sales can push your app into the hot app list for its category which then wins even more buyer attention. Furthermore, review sites and magazines wanting to showcase "what’s new and hot" take notice of the newest best sellers and race to be among the first to review them. Can you guess what happens when your app is reviewed by several such sites & magazines? Even more buyers get turned onto your app (driving even more sales). At this point, you have many other people you don’t even know effectively marketing your app to hundreds of thousands of prospective buyers you can’t possibly reach on your own.

This snowball effect is your ultimate (business) aim… the way to become the next app success story instead of joining the massive crowd that puts little to nothing into marketing their app and watching it languish in an ocean of apps that don’t sell. Again, think about the movie marketing model. Along with the big blockbusters you know are hitting theaters in the next week or two there are probably a good number of other (often independent) films with no marketing budget also being released. You have to really search hard to even notice those other new releases and it is extraordinarily rare for the no-marketing film to organically grow into a big (revenue) winner solely on word of mouth.

On the other hand, the big hit this weekend is going to get lots of press, lots of reviews, lots of references on entertainment-related programs, websites, magazines, etc. Buzz from all that attention will spread and those that were not already pre-sold on the film by studio (advance) marketing will buy their own tickets and further amp up the sales numbers. The snowball gets bigger and bigger and the film becomes a profitable success. The catalyst for that success is the studio previously allocating some marketing budget & focused expertise to start that snowball rolling. This same marketing model is repeated over and over because it works.

Don't Be a Passive App Entrepreneur. Make Every Possible Effort to Go Get Them

Go into the app store cold (no advance marketing) and you’ll be inserting one of dozens or hundreds of new release apps added that day that won’t sell well. Tomorrow, the next batch of new apps will push yours out of the new release section and you’ll join the almost countless apps hoping to be discovered over time. There are several hundred thousand apps in the stores that suffer this fate. No new release volume means no hot lists. No hot lists means no reviews. All the free attention-building that can propel an app to another (revenue) level(s) is sacrificed. The app gets lost among a multitude of competitors. In almost all cases, sales will trickle at best. While it's not necessarily "game over" from a business perspective, it is definitely a major "tilt."

The typical catalysts for making this no-marketing mistake is a lack of money to put toward marketing, a lack of the required risk tolerance involved in any entrepreneurial pursuit or an erroneous belief in the “build a better mousetrap” proposition. If you have no money, there are ways to seek backing from third parties (we can help you with this if necessary). If you lack risk tolerance it may help to view it as investing in yourself and your good idea. An entrepreneur must believe in what they are trying to sell if they want many buyers to get turned onto the proposition; if you don't see (and show) much value in what you want to sell, why should your prospects see it any differently?

If your goal is to try to make a lot of money you should never lay back hoping buyers will come to you… even if you really have built a better mousetrap. Instead, you should be proactive about getting after the buyers. The marketplace is far too crowded for the passive retailer to have much chance of success. You must be aggressive about pursuing your target market, having many of them ready to buy your app the first day it hits the store. That is the most crucial catalyst for starting your own snowball.

App Pricing: 99 Cents is NOT Necessarily Your Ideal Price

In a world where most of the competitive offerings are free and the ASP (average selling price) of paid apps is less than $3, your "for profit" app aspirations require the flexing of great marketing muscle to stand out from the crowd. One key concept is helping buyers see your offering as an obvious bargain, which is NOT driven by how low you go on price but how high we build up perceived value. Even a very high price can still be a bargain if perceived value makes it so.

Members of the BI team sometimes conduct training classes for our client’s sales teams on the techniques of building value. They ask us for this help whenever their teams are leaning too heavily on (margin-eroding) price discounting for closing sales. Their salespeople need to be reminded that the job of selling is mostly about building up perceived value so that the price- whatever it may be- convinces buyers to act now. One of our favorite segment illustrations involves a game in which we'll ask them to guess the prices of 3 common containers of Coca-Cola (as you read this, we encourage you to play this game too): a 12-ounce can, a 20-ounce bottle and a 2-liter bottle...

Which container of soda costs the most?

In most cases, their pricing guesses rise with the size of the container (they assign lowest price guesses to the can and highest guesses to the 2-liter bottle). You probably just did this too. Then, we’ll "remember" just one small detail they should know before we reveal the actual prices: "We bought the can at the airport." As soon as we share that bit of new information, they immediately want to jack up their price estimates on that can.

What changed about the product? NOTHING... it’s still the exact same 12-ounce can of Coke. What changed about the perceived price? With one short, 7-word sentence, their perception of what it should cost always jumps from lowest to highest. The lesson we illustrate is how easy it is to adapt what people think something should cost. In this case, just a few words made them believe the price of that can should be 3, 4, even 5+ times higher than their initial guess.

In app marketing, there are many ways to pump up the value proposition. Success means you can sell it at a price that is not necessarily 99 cents and have it still be coveted as a great bargain. Poor marketing is about trying to win competitive battles on price. No marketing pretty much pressures you to go out with a (too) cheap price. If you win that latter race to the (pricing) bottom in an app store where most apps are priced at FREE, you make little- if any- money. Don’t do it. We can help you creatively build up the perceived value of your app so you can price it right (to make money).

Finally, when considering the appropriate price, it is vitally important to think beyond the single, initial transaction:

  • Can you offer a sample of your app at a low price or for free which can then lure its owners to want to pay for the rest? An upsell model is a great way to win big volume in free or cheap trials but then turn good chunks of that volume into paying customers.
  • Can an ad model work within your app? Consider building screen space for ads into your app or consider 2 app versions: with ads and without. There are many ways to tap into ad revenues from services like adMob, Millennial Media, Greystripe, iAd and many others and they can sometimes offer good (but often ancillary) revenues. We rarely recommend putting all revenue hopes around ad sales alone but there are applications where ad revenues can be an additional revenue stream that makes great sense.
  • Could your app win a sponsorship? Conceptually, you might think of a sponsor in answer to “This app is brought to you by...” as a way to start building a list of potential sponsors. Implementation of a good sponsor model is often much more than just an introductory ad like that but thinking about those possibilities early are important.
  • Can you leverage in-app purchases? In other words, can your app be fed more content, data, modules, levels, etc, over time with the add-ons sold as followup transactions?
  • Is some form of a subscription model applicable? Subscription models can turn even free apps into very lucrative revenue streams. They can yield great revenues that keep on coming month after month and year after year.
  • Etc. (we are highly skilled at helping entrepreneurs think beyond just one sale and there are many ways to turn a good app idea into a revenue generator).

In the interests of keeping new app development costs to a minimum, these concepts should be explored BEFORE programming begins and woven into a marketing section of your app specification. These kinds of app revenue innovations can directly affect how the programmers code your app. Sure they can be added later but that often involves meaningful changes to the app codebase which can be time consuming & costly. Also, you establish a transactional standard with buyers up front: what you might consider as adding new revenue streams later they'll probably see as nickel & dime tactics. If your revenue concepts are in place at launch you win smoother acceptance of the revenue-generating variables woven into your app.


BI App Marketing Consulting & Contractors Help You Do It All Right

Our master marketers can help you build pre-launch buzz, maximize your launch marketing and continue to build interest after the launch. We can help you identify your target market and determine the right price and venues in which to market to them. We also help you fully layer in many crucial marketing considerations in the architecture phase... so that your specification includes what the programmers need to know to fully take advantage of many ways you can make money with your app. Here’s a small sampling of tactics & concepts that may be important for your own app marketing mix:

  • Build buzz through various buyer channels including social media. Like movie marketers, one of the big goals is to cultivate buyer interest in your app well in advance of the launch. Ideally, you get your target audience spreading their anticipation excitement to friends & family.
  • Is there any kind of addiction factor that can be built into your app... something that motivates repeated use? Volume of usage directly translates into value AND the likelihood of leveraging social marketing (users telling their friends about your app).
  • If there are social marketing opportunities, build in viral marketing considerations. More simply, if there are any strong reasons for users to tell their friends about your app be sure to make it ridiculously easy for them to do so by weaving Facebook, Twitter, etc functionality right into your app specification.
  • Create 2 versions of the app: free & paid. Cleverly design the free app with many enticements to motivate its takers to buy your upsell version. Make the upsell as easy as possible for interested buyers to buy. Be direct about the upsell pitch- no soft selling.
  • Nail down the USP (unique selling proposition) of your app and leverage it throughout your various marketing promotions.
  • Pinpoint the targeted audience most likely to buy. "Everyone" in not a target audience; "everyone" is your universe of prospects. Within that universe, there should be a target group(s) more likely to buy than others. If you (or we) can identify them, a cost-efficient marketing plan to pitch your app to that group can be developed. The more narrow the definition, the less it will cost to entice that group. Getting this right maximizes the ROI on your marketing budget.
  • Develop a “wow!” app icon. On the crucial category page for all brand new apps (for which you get 1-3 days at most to win early adopter transactions), there are only 3 things shown to grab early attention: icon, name & price. Name & price are bland text that will blend in with the names & prices of all of the other new apps on that page. Your icon is the only thing that can pop. It must be great!
  • Maximize the quality of your selection of app screenshots, often the first thing potential buyers review when browsing new apps. This is not a throwaway step to do in 20 minutes. Think about those movie marketers and the movie posters they develop (example). Members of their art department may spend weeks perfecting the look of a single movie poster. If they gave that work only 20 minutes they would be fired. You may not need to spend weeks on a portfolio of app screenshots; but you shouldn't make it a quickie either.
  • Put intense effort into copywriting the ideal app store description & choose your keywords carefully. It’s the only written content you fully control within the app store. It's job is to motivate strangers to actually download your app over many other competitors. It will somewhat compete against the customer reviews that you can’t control after the launch. This marketing copy is crucial to a concept called discoverability which is all about maximizing how you can help strangers find their way to your particular offering and be moved to get it on their device.
  • Develop a terrific website loaded with promotional content. A separate website or marketing section for your app can offer far more impressive promotional content than what you can place within the app store description. Many app prospects are always interested in learning more than what they can see in the store description. Give them some dazzling promotional content & imagery and you’ll do something that most of your competitors don’t. It’s one of the most potent ways to stand out from the crowd and pump up perceived value.
  • Advertising has many pros & cons. It can make great sense in some cases and be a waste of budget in others. We can help you make a good decision whether to advertise your app and, if so, where to run those ads.
  • Reach beyond your borders to sell your products or services to a world of ready buyers Think globally- many app entrepreneurs find that more than 50% of their revenues come from outside the United States. Promote to your whole market of buyers not just those in your own country.
  • Take advantage of various smart ways to cultivate a big following to mobilize on app launch day. If you can get your followers really fired up about your app you can also ask them to review it in the store on day one. Lots of good reviews heavily influence your future prospect's buying decisions.
  • Create a succinct “sell the sizzle” video(s) (your movie trailer equivalent) that shows the best of your app in action. Also consider releasing a teaser trailer video and/or persuasive multimedia marketing well in advance of your launch.
  • Get onto the various Internet app directories & review sites like appshopper.com, toucharcade.com, appsafari.com, iphonehacks.com, 148apps.com and many more.
  • Reach out to youtube programmers like iJustine. These are very influential people who review new, interesting apps. Their (sometimes enormous) followings can explode your early buyer numbers.
  • Contact those who write popular blogs about apps like TUAW, Apple iPhone School, Just Another iPhone Blog and many others. Be sure to reach out to all of the medium & higher volume blog & review sites.
  • Etc. (this is just a sampling of marketing mix possibilities; there are many more. We can help you assemble the ones most relevant for driving sales of your particular kind of app).

Some Important Marketing-Driven Concepts That Influence Highest Quality App Development

There’s a number of important marketing-driven concepts that should influence the app specification development. Here’s just 5 of them...

  1. Don’t be trapped into believing your app idea must be completely original. Building upon something already proven to sell well is becoming a competitor in a marketplace of live buyers. If you can’t be first to market, can your crack at an existing market be the best app for that market? It’s a lot easier to catch fish in a pond that you know is well stocked than to find an entirely new, previously unknown pond that may or may not hold many fish.

    If your idea is already implemented in some established apps, scour all reviews- especially negative ones- for ideas on how to make your new offering stand out from the established apps. And download all of the real competition first hand to get a deep feel for the good & bad in each of their apps (or have us do this for you and deliver features, benefits and revenue-angle summaries). Leveraging customer & competitive analysis is an excellent way to come to market well after the pioneers and quickly take share from them.
  2. Dress (your app) to impress. There is an abundance of free apps that are dazzling in look & feel, functionality, etc. If you want people to pay for your app, you need to raise the quality bar above what they get for free. Our talented graphics artists can help you do this right.
  3. Don’t make the very common mistake of failing to offer some form of real service & support. Many buyers don’t want to pay for an app from an unknown company without some way to communicate with that company. Even a service email address is better than nothing (though more than just an email address builds confidence for prospective buyers). If you support your app sales with a dazzling promotional website, we can help you further leverage that website with (self) service & support features that impress. We can make even one-person companies look much bigger than they are (another great way to pump up perceived value for your offerings).
  4. Create a product road map to keep the app fresh over time. Your initial version needs to be appealing enough to drive many sales. But that doesn’t mean you should attempt to build in every possible feature & benefit up front. Once you confirm buyers (in volume) you can delight them with subsequent updates. Evolutionary enhancements bring the added benefit of improving store visibility (a lucrative bonus). Defining the map up front also helps with the programming phase (so that the codebase is set up in advance to efficiently accommodate the new stuff as you evolve the app).
  5. After you launch, learn to love even the bad reviews and don’t take them personally. Criticism can be painful but reading it as constructive criticism is a smart way to turn lemons into lemonade. Put good effort into carefully considering the professional reviews too as they are often peppered with (missing) feature wish lists (sometimes between the lines) that could be incorporated into your road map updates.

Are there more than these 5? Certainly, but hopefully (all of) the above lends confidence that working with a capable team like BI can be very helpful toward your app entrepreneurial goals. We are often lauded by clients for our unique capability to think in both the business and tech dimensions simultaneously (a kind of translator between you and the programming team). We can be as involved as you like helping you do nearly all of it yourself or in up to turnkey services: 1) developing a complete app specification document, 2) sourcing, recommending and managing the programming team and 3) creating & executing the best possible app marketing plan and creative to fit your budget. Contact us for a FREE consultation.


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