Technology Tip

How and Why You Should Build an App for Your Business

How and Why You Should Build an App for Your Business

The key to marketing success is to make sure that you are in front of your prospects on a regular basis. Ideally they develop an impression that links your product or service to your company name. This creates something called "top of mind". Essentially, you become the first name that pops in their head when there is a need for your product or service. If you have a lot of budget to work with, it is pretty straightforward that you can just saturate your particular market demographic and work with a graphic team to make everything look flashy and new (or whatever it is that your prospects want). But what about the real world where most small to medium sized businesses don’t have huge marketing budgets to work with?

Suppose you could have your prospects download an app on their phone that provides a useful service for them and, at the same time, represents your value proposition? It might be easier than you think. For example, if you happened to be a tax preparer it might be useful to have an app that allows your prospects to easily keep track of receipts by taking a photo and selecting a category for the receipt. The app could be designed to incorporate your marketing colors and fonts plus a subtle "For Tax Help Call XXX-XXX-XXXX" on the bottom. If you’re a cosmetologist, you might have an app that loads up a series of "push" notifications of special sales prices on face cream, mascara, or lipsticks. You could have it set up so that the prospect gets to choose what they want to be notified about, maybe even down to a brand level. And of course your company name and location would be on display as well.

It all sounds great, but without an IT department and an app store how can you make this work? As it turns out there are lots of companies that will build an app for hire. Just google "outsource mobile app software" and you will have plenty to choose from. Just make sure that you choose one which has verified compatibility of OS for Apple and Android for others. You will need to educate yourself about what can be done easily and what is more difficult. As the owner of the app, if you are going to change the content (like in the cosmetology app) you need to have an easy way to update the offer and put in an expiration date. So you want to think about all the details of how you would ideally want the app to work.

It would also make sense to hire a graphic artist to develop a couple of screen renderings just so you are bringing some ideas to the app builders that you hire. They need to at least replicate your logos, fonts and colors. Lastly, think about the logistics of how you would want to get the app on to the phones of your prospects and what maintenance, if any, that it will require. If you are the tax preparer in our example you might do a simple mailing within the extended neighborhood including the app link as a QR code as "A gift for you - an easy way to keep and catalog receipts" and show a nice picture of the app screen and a sales pitch of "Just take a picture, click the category and you are done." Don’t forget to include words to the effect of "OS and Android compatible", so people will feel safe with a download.

Once you have your app on their phone they will get a regular subtle reminder about who you are and what you do every time that they use it. Before long you will be the coveted "top of mind".

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