Steer Clear of Vanity Apps…

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According to Forrester Research more than 84% of U.S. adults online have never heard of location-based applications, and only 4% actually use them.

It remains to be seen if these apps provide concrete benefits for an entrepreneur starting a small business.

Instead, you should focus your product marketing strategy first and foremost on fixing a clearly perceived challenge or frustration that the people in your core market are experiencing. The next step is to work out the strategies being used by your competitors. It’s only then that you will know their weaknesses and be able to devise a product launch strategy with a genuine chance of success.

This may include an element of mobile marketing such as coupons or  text messaging – these are inexpensive ways of testing the market – but until these have demonstrated that they are having a positive effect on your bottom line steer well clear of the idea of creating an App. You will certainly have to put some of your hard earned marketing dollars into launching it.

That said, here are the 8 steps to follow…

  1. Define the problem
  2. Set out the solution
  3. Define how you will measure success
  4. Iphone, Ipad, Android, 7 ?
  5. Who is the target market
  6. Will it have a web component?
  7. How will people find your App?
  8. Establish a Product Launch Marketing Strategy

Ultimately your aim must be to engage with your customers and clients and build a long term relationship with them. Tom Elkin, an analyst at eMarketer said…

It’s unclear to me if being the mayor on Foursquare pushes more sales other than announcing to all your friends and your social network  that you stop at Starbucks (SBUX_) three times a week. Is that really driving other people who might not ordinarily go?”

Good question?

But the flip side of the coin is that having your customers ‘check-in’ and receiving a valuable incentive to do so is providing word-of-mouth referrals for your business. This type of inbound marketing could well prove to be more cost effective than traditional advertising.

The only way to find out is to test, be proactive and measure the effect on your bottom line before making mobile a permanent feature of your product marketing strategy. Until you are convinced, steer well clear of creating an App… It may just be pure vanity.

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Rory Ramsden