There’s an App for That: Be Where Your Customer Are !

popularity of mobile game appsYesterday I talked about the rise of mobile marketing — with 72 Million users in the US; a number increasing by 37% a year as more folks get smartphones and tablets.  People use their smartphones for everything from searching for a restaurant and getting directions to playing music and games.  Increasingly, folks use mobile apps to fill their dead time on the train or waiting at the dentist’s office.  Games like Angry Birds and Words with Friends are downloaded on billions of smartphones, while iTune apps and radio apps allow users to listen to music anywhere.

Why You Need a Mobile App

Creating apps is easier and cheaper all the time, based on my conversation yesterday with podcasting and mobile app guru, Scott Paton of Designer Web Solutions. Here’s what he had to say about mobile apps and podcasts.

The reward from well-crafted mobile apps is much greater than internet-based solutions because there’s much less competition and mobile users don’t really want to jump on the internet to get solutions.  Increasing bandwidth gives mobile applications legs — providing more opportunities for podcasts and video.

And your business needs an app to connect with on-the-move customers.

Custom Mobile Apps

Sure, getting listed on Foursquare and Google Places is good, and by putting up coupons and other helpful information you’ll increase traffic from these apps, but interactivity is the secret to optimizing a mobile app and these solutions don’t give you that.

Custom mobile apps help develop a relationship with customers that you don’t have with shopping apps.  And, you don’t have to fight competitors every time users open the app, like you do in Foursquare.

Custom apps create leads for your business.  Find a problem, then step users through until revealing the solution.  For instance, a problem might be “How to Build a Better Relationship with your Spouse” — a problem we’ve all faced at some point.  Step 1 might be setting aside a time to be alone together, Step 2 might be to listen when the other talks …. until the solution which might involve buying your book on relationship building or signing up for your couples seminar.

You can integrate audio podcasts into your app so that each week users get a new podcast delivered directly to their mobile device.  Scott recommends including video trailers as a teaser for the next podcast.

You’re using your mobile app to distribute content much as you would through your blog — except you may only face 4 competitive apps versus 10,000 competitors online.

Making Money From Your Mobile App

Monetizing your mobile app comes through sales of your products, but you can also sell the app.  You might offer the first installment free, then charge $.99 for the app.  It’s not a lot, but it adds up quickly if you have lots of downloads.

You can also embed advertising in your mobile app.  Let’s say you have your marriage advice app.  You might also advertise your “Building a Better Relationship with your Kids” app or include an affiliate ad for a couple’s resort.

Look for more from Scott Paton

Check out his website or connect with him on LinkedIN.

Hausman Marketing Letter will feature monthly posts from Scott as part of our new “Advice from the Experts” posts.  We’ll also feature posts from other thought leaders in our efforts to keep you informed about cutting edge marketing and social media tactics, tools, and strategies.

Also, be sure to visit “Ask a Marketing Expert” every Friday in the EVENTS tab of Marketing That Works.TV where we bring in experts to answer your marketing questions.

 

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Top 5 Indicators the Social Media Bubble is Collapsing ?

Today, Technorati reported the acquisition of 1 “social beer” platform by another amid speculation that the social media bubble is collapsing just like the dot.coms did in 2000.  OK, so the acquisition of one platform dedicated to checking-in what beer you’re drinking where by another doesn’t imply the social media bubble is collapsing, but other recent acquisitions do reflect consolidation in the kingdom of social media marketing.

is the social media bubble collapsingEvidence the Social Media Bubble is Collapsing

Other consolidations such as Salesforce.com’s acquisition of Radian 6 may foretell the social media bubble is collapsing.  A slew of mergers, acquisitions, and closures of social media companies may indicate impending doom for social media companies.  Technorati, for example, went through a major transformation after being acquired by AOL and has now morphed into a Huffington Post, with a somewhat techie bent (Arianna Huffington is now overseeing Technorati and several other AOL ventures after acquisition of her popular news site  by AOL).  The site now highlights independent bloggers who post directly to its pages and the StumbleUpon model of readers submitting erudite blog posts is gone.  Instead, the site contains RSS feeds from blogs and lists post snippets below the fold on its site.   I’m a Technorati writer and fear the site is loosing its place to StumbleUpon and, as a mini-Huffington Post it is redundant and might disappear.

I’m not the only one afraid the social media bubble is collapsing — Chris Brogan predicted many social media companies would close their doors starting this year.

Factors Contributing to the Collapse of Social Media

I predicted the collapse of the dot.com bubble in the late ’90s and this feels the same to me.  It seems to share many of the same features such as:

  1. A number of competing platforms struggling to get enough traffic.   Firms are dividing the pie rather than making the pie bigger.  In a discussion preparing for Digital DC Week yesterday, one of the organizers point out that everyone is going after the same 10% that “get it” while the other 90% get left in the dust.  Until firms learn to stop fighting over the 10% and find a way to bring the other 90% on board a sustained rally seems unlikely.
  2. Monetizing platforms continues to be problematic. It’s great to have stuff available for free — look at all the free themes, QR codes, plugins, sharing platforms like Tweetmeme, Foursquare, analytics like Google, keyword research …  But many of these companies aren’t making much money.  The ones who are making money use affiliate links as a major source of income and this source is drying up as more sites try using them.
  3. The ratio of work effort to return is low. It’s like in the dot.com days when everyone built custom websites from HTML — the amount of money you can make per hour looks like slave wages.  Setting up, monitoring, and optimizing a social media marketing strategy for a client is time consuming.  Creating a new social platform or app involves a staggering amount of work that gets shared free.  And everyone is trying to reach a moving target as best practice changes constantly.
  4. Too many impostors. Forrester Research contends the days of everyone hanging out a shingle as a social media professional are over.  Too many snake oil salesmen are out their ripping off unsuspecting clients by putting together programs without a clue as to what they’re doing.  Being good at social media marketing takes skill and practice — it isn’t something you can do because you’re out of work anyway.
  5. Users and developers are speaking different languages. Developers not understanding what problems people have, then solving them results when developers and users speak different languages.  Developers think in terms of cool codes and great design, users think about “what will this DO for me!”.  Even when developers create something valuable to users, they sometimes don’t see the same value users do or they can’t explain how their platform solves a problem.  Look at MySpace — once the leading social media platform it’s now struggling to survive mainly because using it wasn’t as intuitive as using Facebook.  Foursquare had almost no users until retailers and service providers started giving coupons for checkins.

Do you think the social media bubble is collapsing?

Let me hear your thoughts.  Can the collapse of social media marketing be averted?  How?

 

     

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    Social Media Marketing: Small Businesses in Developing Nations

    I thought I’d share the powerpoints from my 2 day training with Nigerian University Chancellors visiting Howard University to learn how technology can be used to promote economic development and success of small businesses in Nigeria and the rest of Africa.  Obviously, I talked about how to use social media as a driver of economic development and small business growth.  Enjoy.

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    Social Media Marketing Done Right !

    Last week I was traveling to meet clients and visit schools with my daughter.  I like to take these opportunities to observe local businesses.  I often see things done wrong, which is very frustrating — I sometimes feel like all the work I do training students both at the university and professionally through speaking and my blog is wasted.  In Atlanta, I found a business that seemed to have it all together.

    The business is YogurtBerry in Buckhead in Atlanta.  They did a great job with both in-store marketing factors (including product and retail atmospherics) and communication marketing factors (such as social media and advertising). We had a very enjoyable evening and here’s what they were doing right:

    1. The product.  The yogurt was good, with a large variety of toppings and was very reasonably priced (much like other premium ice cream and yogurt shops).
    2. Social media.  Increasingly, firms want you to become fans on Facebook.  In fact, earlier in the trip we saw signs posted in prominent locations at a Chick-fil-a asking patrons to become fans.  But, why?  At YogurtBerry the owner had signs all over the store asking folks to fan him, check-in on Foursquare, and follow him on Twitter.  He didn’t stop there.  Every customer was personally asked to become a fan or connect using other social media.  In exchange, he handed them a coupon to use during their next visit to the store.  Not everyone will become a fan, but a sense of obligation will encourage many of them to become fans.  Not only that, but he’ll likely get repeat business when customers come back to use their coupons.
    3. Customer relationship management. The owner took time when things were a little slow to get to know his customers.  He tried to guess where we were from, what we were doing in the area, and asked why we choose his shop.  He went into the courtyard outside his shop and talked to folks hanging out there.  He didn’t push them to come in, but invited them as one might a guest into one’s home.
    4. Store atmospherics.  The store was small, but clean and inviting.  He had inoffensive music playing, but it wasn’t Musak.  He also has a small TV. Most important, he had photos in every place possible.  Photos featured local celebrities visiting his shop — likely the outcome of other marketing efforts to get them there in the first place.  Most of the photos just showed local folks enjoying their YogurtBerry.  These photos entice customers to stay longer, as they want to see how many of their friends or local celebrities they recognize from the photos.

    Outcome Metrics

    Not only was I a happy customer (and a fulfilled marketing who felt like not everyone ignored what I had to say), but I am not alone.  Here are some of the results he achieves:

    • After the franchise owner, he owns the next 4 sites that come up in organic search
    • One of the links returned from organic search is a Yelp review of his store
    • Other stores, include one in Midtown Manhattan, don’t appear until near the bottom of the first page.

    Now, I don’t know how this translates into profits, but my guess is he’s doing pretty well for a local business, especially given he has a truly horrible location.

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    How To Create a Marketing Plan: Part 2.

    My prior post covered the first half on How to Create A Marketing Plan.  Today, I’m covering the second half of how to create a marketing plan.  Specifically, we’ll be covering using findings from the situation analysis to develop a marketing strategy that helps you reach your objectives.  The last part of this series will show you how to develop an implementation plan and elements to measure to see your progress in reaching your goals.

    Strategic Plan

    Linking findings from the situation analysis to your strategic plan is critical.  Developing plans without these insights or with incomplete or inaccurate insights means you’re missing some opportunities to make money and may even fail because what you’re doing aren’t the right things.  Opportunities and threats identified in your situation analysis can be used to guide development of new marketing strategies while weaknesses uncovered in the situation analysis should be fixed to the extent possible in your strategic plan.

    A strategic plan only contains elements of the 4P’s — or internal elements including Product, Price, Promotion, and Place (or Distribution).  You can get a better idea of these elements from my earlier post.

    Product Strategies

    Issues involved in managing existing products dictate some strategies likely to be more successful.  Among these issues are (we’ll cover each of these topics in future posts):

    • Product life cycle
    • Product class
    • Product form
    • Product positioning

    A major focus of managing new products is the issue of branding.  A brand is like a hologram — not real in a tangible sense but clearly “visible” to consumers.  Another way of looking at branding is as a personality for the product.  Companies can about their brand because it is this personality, more than any other aspect of the product, that controls buying decisions.  Its just like with friends, you have many with different personalities, but all have something about their personality you find attractive.  When a brand appears to be “for me” I want the product and when brands are “not for me” I avoid them.

    Brand image (or brand personality) comes from advertising and other promotional efforts, from where you see the brand sold and who you see using the product, and from what friends say about the product.  In a world dominated by social media, increasingly it is these non-commercial communications that control brand image.

    Promotion Strategies

    Promotions include advertising, public relations, direct marketing (email and mail marketing, plus newsletters), and sales promotions (those hats, pens, calendars … plus coupons, rebates, sponsorships, and other elements).

    The internet is becoming increasingly crowded with promotions because of their reach and low cost.  However many firms fail to recognize promotions in online environments, especially social spaces, are fundamentally different than traditional media because they require customer engagement.

    An important element of promotional strategies is the integration required to maximize effectiveness.  Hence, rather than choosing a single medium for your message, a firm must use multiple outlets in a coordinated fashion.  You might use cause marketing as a basic strategy to promote your business, get fans and followers on board to support the cause by retweeting your message, liking your fanpage, or sharing your message with their social network.  You reinforce the message using traditional advertising and evoke PR to tell everyone about the program and what a socially responsible company you are.  You might offer premiums like t-shirts to consumers who promote your cause.  Everything would be integrated using the same message, similar graphics, and the overall strategy.

    Price Strategy

    Many business people think consumers want the cheapest product available, but this is often wrong.  What consumers really want is value — which is the difference between price and benefit.  Price also tells us lots about the product, especially when its difficult to judge the quality objectively.  For instance, we assume a diamond ring that is more expensive is a better quality diamond.  We figure the same about a physician or hospital — that’s part of the healthcare system that’s broken when we choose expensive physicians since we don’t pay for them ourselves.

    Cialdini tells a story in his book on influence where a retailers couldn’t sell her jewelry so she DOUBLED the price and sold out — at the cheaper price it was considered junk.

    Place Strategy

    Distribution is an important aspect of marketing as much of the cost of many products is tied up in distributing it to the ultimate consumer.  Place also has meaning for consumers as store atmospherics provide clues about the products sold at the store.  Issues such as stock-outs, merchandising, store layout … also must be considered in developing your place strategy.

    One of the most interesting opportunities in place marketing right now comes from integration of social spaces and retail spaces.  Foursquare and Facebook places are among those linking these two domains.  QR tags and Shopkick are changing the way retailers and other service business can merge social media, geolocation, and marketing into one powerful tool.

    I hope you find this valuable.  Next post we’ll finish covering How To develop a Marketing Plan.  Meanwhile, join Marketing That Works, our training site, where we’ll be posting live case studies, step by step demonstrations of social media and marketing tools, and introducing detailed marketing tactics to help you make the most of your business.  Sign up for our newsletters and our next webinar on Market Samuri at http://www.MarketingThatWorks.TV.

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