Are You Playing With This Idea of Making an App For Your Business?

In my recent post “The State of Small Business: What Business Owners Need to Know to Grow” I talked about marketing professionals giving tried-and-true advice and how this is where the problem lies for business owners.

Today, I’m talking about apps for small businesses.

That’s right!

If you’re in business you’ve probably been approach by an app developer saying how crazy you are if don’t have an app. That apps are the future and will solve all of your problems.

Let me start off with this: I’m not against apps or app developers, but I am against the way they’re being marketed, and sold to business owners.

Until small business owners realize that they are in fact a media company and what’s utility from their customers viewpoint, having an app is worthless. This is why the app market is at a large measure a sucker’s game.

Let me explain through these three specific reasons:

Reason #1: No one has ever heard of you

Again, a lot of business owners don’t understand the publishing model of modern marketing.  Today is more about being found—earning attention—and less about going out and hunting. Being relevant and found is done through content.

If you’re not driving awareness for your business though content, then you’re not driving awareness for your app.  Now factor in that there are more than a million apps to choose from, so it’s the biggest haystack and most businesses are the tiny needle.

Reason#2: You forget social 

Once you finally get someone to hear from you—who wants to hear from you —most apps forget to be social.

What do I mean?

Does your app work better if I get all my peers, co-workers and friends to use it too? Most apps are never social, so they don’t scale.

Reason #3: You want money, they want a trial offer

If you want to sell your app, you have this big problem which is no one knows how good your app is until they give you money. The modern buyer doesn’t like buying digital goods without first trying it for free. We (well most of us) never buy a record until we hear it- the single – on the radio, first, for free. The radio is this huge sampling tool that makes the music industry work. And this same model is what makes the app industry work.

Quick Recap: We have a big haystack, you’re the little needle, most apps don’t lend them-self to being social or spreading and you want people to pay for something they couldn’t try first.

Now on the other hand, if you’re a small business owner that’s publishing content, building an audience and knows your audience behaviors then an app may make sense for you.

What I have noticed is that people want apps for things because they allow them greater control.

While your content is out there to be had for free, it’s out there in the wild. An app user of your content has much greater power over how they

  • consume,
  • interact,
  • destruct, and
  • transport

that content, and that’s perhaps the larger point of this post.

The first step to becoming an app savvy business owner is to recognize why the app category is flaming-hot and why you need to think in terms of tapping app behavior to package, repackage, purpose, and repurpose everything that a mobile social consumer wants to do—and even a few things they don’t know they want to do.

When you come to view your app ideas and execution with a “feeding a behavior” mindset, ideas and the carrying out of those ideas will flow more freely.

Creating an app may work for your business, but step away from the “get rich” desire and focus on creating an app that allows customers to do the things that need doing in ways that give them far greater control, and you’ll be well on your way to unlocking a flood of potential.