Does your business need an App?
You can’t go far without hearing the word “App”. Apple’s introduction of it’s App Store changed the landscape of mobile computing and opened the door to what consumers want their smart phones to do: everything.
As smart phone users increase at an exponential rate, you may be asking yourself if developing an app is a good idea for your business.
The short answer to this is: Yes.
A more productive question is you may need to ask yourself is what would an app do for your business? A software developer knows how to develop software, but as a business owner you know the most about your business and your customer.
We’ve put together a quick guide to get you started thinking about how apps can benefit your business. The starting principles covered here will guide you whether you’re thinking about developing a native Android, iPhone, Blackberry, or Windows phone app.
What Would Your App Do?
Building an app can be like starting a completely different business, with start-up costs being higher than you may expect. Beginning with a clear idea of what you’d like your app to do will start you on the path to figuring out if it’s a good strategy for your business.
Much like your website, it helps if you start with a goal in mind for how your app will be used. Take a moment to think about who your customer is, and how they’ll use your app.
Once you’ve got The Perfect Customer in mind, think about why you want an app. What kind of value will it bring to your business/company?
The App Itself As Revenue Stream
Making money from apps is a tough business. Apple’s App Store features over half a million apps, making competition fierce. If selling an app is your primary goal, you’d do best to do some research into the market.
Find apps that could possibly compete with your idea.
You’ll find that this can be a good source of inspiration, and direction. Your research may lead you to competitors who are all competing on the same features, but who don’t focus on what the app actually does.
This can be dangerous territory for new apps as it can devastate price models. For example, when apps first premiered on Apple’s App Store there were a slew of competitors in the “Tip Calculator” space. Most apps couldn’t compete on features, so they ended up competing on price — until they drove the price to free, killing the market for “Tip Calculators”.The lesson here is: know your market. If you plan on being successful on any of the App Stores you’re going to have to dedicate a lot of time and resources in order for it to be financially successful.Yes, making money from the sale of the app is hard, but it’s not impossible.
Using Apps To Strengthen Your Brand
Small business owners may find that apps can add a great deal of credibility and power to their already established brands. The most common way to use an app to leverage the power of your brand is to provide domain specific knowledge that you may have.
For example, if you own a coffee shop, you might consider creating an app with recommendations for the best methods of brewing. If you’re a gym owner or personal trainer, you might consider designing an app that logs your workouts or links to physical training videos, or a class schedule. If you’re a restauranteur your app might feature a system for making reservations or matching a meal to it’s best wine selection.
This type of informational value will strengthen your brand as a source of knowledge. Paired with social media marketing you’ll increase the value of your brand in the mind of your customers.What’s
The Difference Between Your App And Your Website?
While we’ve been comparing your website to your app, don’t forget your app is not your website. If designed correctly your website should be available everywhere, regardless of whether it’s being accessed via a computer, smart phone, tablet device — or whatever other new miracle they come up with next week.
Your website provides your customers with information about your locations, hours, how to contact you, when the next big sale is, etc. It’s how you provide customers with information quickly.
Your app, on the other hand, has the potential to be a microcosm of your business. A properly designed app can communicate to your customers what you love about your business. It can help communicate what it will be like to visit you in person.
Do One Thing Well
Successful apps are about details. They tell your customer what you care about and how effective you can be in helping them with their problem.
Whether you’re looking to start selling apps or use the public’s interest in them to strengthen your brand, always remember that your business solves problems, and your customers will be attracted to that which solves their problems in the cleanest, simplest, and easiest way possible.
Apps are just another tool in your businesses arsenal. Focus them sharply on your goal and they’ll serve you well.