Several years ago, while spending far too much Margarita-infused free time on my boat, I had the seemingly brilliant idea to create a new product called the “Party Buoy.” The Party Buoy would address the need for easily available and accessible drinks and tunes—the two primary necessities—in and around the water (i.e. on boats, in pools, in lakes, and heck, perhaps even while bathing in bathtubs). Being a marketing guy and surrounded by like-minded boating, and subsequently, drinking, entrepreneurs at that time, we were able to quickly come up with a set of compelling features for the Party Buoy product. These included:
- Six drink holsters for easy access to a healthy six-pack of choice beverages
- High-powered stereo with 2-4 speakers to blast choice tunes and not only get the party started but keep it floating
- Solar cell panel to drive said high-powered stereo for hours on end, relieving any concerns for battery life and extended partying
- Lightweight, plastic (or rather “Carbon-fiber composite”) buoy mold for eco-friendly and convenient boat, raft or pool transportability & tethering
- Available in several colors including Party Dress Red, Cool Ocean Blue, Hot Tamale Orange and Naked See-Through Clear (did I already mention this conversation was Margarita-infused?)
Coming up with the Party Buoy product concept sounded simple and we had fun tossing around ideas… until I got serious about it. I soon thereafter, started sourcing plastic mold injecting houses, speaker OEMs and solar cell manufacturers for my Party Buoy design. I also sought a designer to draw up a blueprint and looked into patent attorneys and the other necessary suits to help me set up my new company, Party Buoy, Incorporated. The Party Buoy would need to be distributed so there was ‘that’ too. And, oh yeah, I’d also have to market it somehow. How can I forget? I am a marketing guy afterall… Needless to say, the idea of taking the Party Buoy to market, like many great (and not-so-great) product ideas sank before it even started, as I quickly learned how expensive, time consuming and multi-faceted it would be to execute a sound Go-To-Market strategy of a new product like this. I realized that I did not have the skillset, the market experience or the necessary resources to support it.
Fast-forward to today and there’s no doubt that quick-rich technology opportunities abound. The mobile app explosion—an industry expected to reach $30B by 2013—is hard to ignore and transcends all businesses and lifestyle categories. You don’t have to look very far to see success in apps and companies like Angry Birds, Zynga (creators of Farmville), DrawMe and Instagram (recently purchased by Facebook for $1 Billion, yes $1 Billion with no revenue and no patent but 40M users), to see that there is big and quick money to be made here. Check out some of these other numbers for added context to the market:
- There are currently over 800,000 active apps available on over 123 app marketplaces developed by over 150,000 professional developers in the US
- 3500 apps are downloaded every second
- App downloads hit 31 Billion in 2011 up from just 2.8 Billion in 2008. Downloads are expected to reach 66 Billion by 2016 (Mobile Marketer April 9, 2012)
So, there is an app-ortunity here for just about, anyone. Being heavily involved in the mobile marketing and app creation revolution via my work representing Magmito with Sprint, Qualcomm and others as well as my teaching at NYU (current class “Mobile Marketing for the Small to Medium-sized Business”), I often get approached with “I’ve got a great idea for an app…” That is usually followed up by a conversation about what it does to support a specific vertical channel, consumer product/game or business product/service. The conversation, nine-times-out-of-ten, finishes with the app inventor saying to me “I’m just the idea guy. You are the app guy. Go make it happen. I’ll even split the revenue with you.” Before I can say “Not so fast, Einstein,” they’re on to their core job and responsibilities with me left to supposedly sort out, develop a plan and present a go-to-market strategy for their wonderful, millionaire-making star child/idea—what I know to be the really hard part of any business (you see, I knew all that boating and drinking would pay off somehow).
“Not So Fast, Einstein”
In case you’re wondering what is necessary to execute or at least get started on creating and executing on the next greatest, money-making mobile app to support your business, or some other function (i.e. gaming, etc.), you may want to think through the following first, to help you get the best start and optimize results. (taken from my article for Mobile Marketer entitled “Five Strategic Tips to Make Mobile Work for You in 2012,” January 12, 2012):
1. Plan your mobile marketing as if your business (or job) depends on it.
The opportunity in mobile is huge yet fragmentation runs deep. Leverage fundamental marketing principles of getting the right message to the right people to create, gain or sustain profitable customer relationships.
Research your audience, as well as the phones, carriers and data plans they subscribe to. Use it to create an overall picture of how they behave, wirelessly. Document a defendable brief that spells out success metrics for your mobile app, including revenue, branding, new customer acquisition and/or loyalty, to name a few.
Clearly indicate how your mobile strategy fits in with your business strategy for additional boardroom points. Lastly, be sure to include how you will track success for ongoing accountability and improvement.
2. Engage your audience with a sound mobile content strategy
Bill Gates had it right in his 1996 essay, and it rings truer than ever with mobile… “Content is (still) King.” Create meaningful interactive experiences with your content, for your customers. Can your mobile content answer these basic questions: “Are my customers interested?” “Will they keep my content on their phone?” “Will they access it often?” And, most importantly, “Will they respond and/or buy?”
3. Reach all customers and provide easy access.
Build a mobile customer Profit & Loss statement (P&L) illustrating customer acquisition, retention, monetization and growth of each relationship, as a result of your mobile marketing mix.
Do not exclude any segment of your target audience from accessing your mobile content due to phone type, platform or other, as it may very well cost you the relationship along with valuable lifetime value, eventually opening the door for your competition.
4. Get mobile app content noticed with a clear path to discoverability and promotion.
How will you promote your mobile app, get noticed and drive success? The efficient integration of mobile with your traditional and tradigital marketing efforts is critical.
Consider contemporary methods of generating frequent engagement of your mobile content such as proximity, location-based services, search, shortcode/keyword calls to action, QR codes, mobile gaming, viral forward-a-friend and/or push notices, to name a few.
Consider an affiliate program with partners to help market your mobile content, keep costs low and drive more immediate adoption. Think beyond the App Store.
5. Make money and drive return on your mobile marketing investment.
Consider a model that yields direct or indirect revenue and profitability. Whether it’s pay per download, advertising/sponsorship, in app purchases, or freemium, establishing rough estimates for mobile success will make your strategy, and product, that much more defendable.
Track your efforts and remain flexible with revenue models that the market may dictate along the way.
Calculate a mobile Lifetime Engagement Value (LEV) estimate for your efforts showing value over the long haul.
In other words, the longer your brand, content and offer stay on a customer’s phone and in front of them, the more chances you have for ongoing and frequent engagement, and therefore, a sales response.
It is hard not to get excited about the opportunities that mobile marketing affords, mostly the immediate reach, influence and communication with new and existing customers wherever they are, 24/7. It is imperative that, to achieve success, marketers of apps, and any new product or service, for that matter, employ best practice yet stay focused on marketing fundamentals. This will earn you a competitive advantage early on, significant value per marketing dollar spent.
Follow this through and you can see your product go to market before you become discouraged, overwhelmed or intimidated about execution.
About the Author
Angelo Biasi is General Manager of SMART Marketing Solutions, LLC, a leading full-service integrated marketing company in Florida and New York since 2001. He has helped create and execute marketing plans and integrated marketing solutions for companies such as Playtex, Bic, Rogaine, Tauck, and over 35 colleges and universities, to name a few. Angelo has an MBA in Marketing from the University of Connecticut and teaches Marketing at New York University where he has for over six years. He has been quoted and/or featured in USA Today, Mobile Marketer magazine, Mobile Commerce Daily, Luxury Marketing magazine, BNET TV and Business Currents magazine, to name a few. For more information or to learn more, email him at abiasismartmarketingllccom (abiasismartmarketingllccom) , visit www.smartmarketingllc.com, call him at 239.963.9396 and follow him on Twitter