Smart Investing: Do Small Businesses Need An App for That?
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. From the second we heard the catch phrase, There's an app for that, it's probably safe to say most of us can't go far without hearing the word, app. As smartphone users' demands increase at an exponential rate, there's no doubt you're asking yourself if you need an app for your business.
Do You Need An App For That?
The short answer? Well... yes... however...
Although the long answer is just that, you'll benefit from a productive approach. Start by asking yourself, What would an app do for my business? A mobile app and software developer can develop the application, however, you are the expert when it comes to your business and your customer-base.
There's no question that apps are only rising in popularity, but before you hire a developer, take a moment to read our quick guide to get you started. The ideas we've put together will help you navigate the waters of mobile app development, whether you’re thinking about developing a native Android, iOS, or Windows mobile phone app, or all of the above.
What Will 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?
Instagram garnered a cool billion bucks, but it's not the norm. Keep it in perspective: Apple’s App Store features at least half a million apps, give or take. Not only is competition fierce, there's a good chance an app will land DOA. If selling an app as a stand alone product/service is your primary goal, market research is a must.
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.
A bit of history:
When apps first premiered on Apple’s App Store there were a slew of competitors in the "Tip Calculator" arena. Competing on function is next to impossible, but competing on price was a different story. Fast forward a few years, the market was inundated, and ultimately, the money garnered from Tip Calculator apps was nothing but a memory. The lesson? Know your market. To successfully sell any App, a large amount of time, resources and a real commitment must be in order for it to be financially rewarding.
Apps & Strengthening Your Brand
Small business owners may find that apps can add credibility and power to their already established brands. In this case, it's common for businesses to use their app to leverage the power of your brand by presenting themselves as an expert that provides users with area-specific knowledge.
If you own a coffee shop, you might consider creating an app with recommendations for the best methods of brewing. A personal trainer may want to create an app that will not only log a client's workout, but allow them to access personalized workout videos the trainer has created. A clothing store may want to offer a discount on featured products that are only available through the app. You get the idea.
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.
App vs. Website
Remember, an app is not a website. Although your website can be designed to function similarly to an app or even feature a launch button on a phone's interface, an app is a separate component.
When accessing a site in a mobile browser, it's typically because the user is in need of quick information. A location, map and directions, business hours, and a straight forward way to contact you typically covers the information visitors seek.
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 your goal is to profit from your app or use the public’s interest in mobile to strengthen your brand, the takeaway this: if your business can solve problems, your customers will be attracted to the app (or person) who will do so in the cleanest, simplest, and easiest way possible. As with all tools in your successful business arsenal, engaging current and potential customers depends on fulfilling a need using a well defined strategy.