Okay, okay so you got this brilliant App idea. Let me guess it’s the next Uber for dog walking or the new Amazon for T-shirts. There’s always a great idea but the execution is where people get lost and unfortunately where most fail.
Let’s first remember that an App idea is nothing more than a business idea and the “App” is merely a product of that business. Let’s just put the App aside for some brief questioning or brainstorming I want you to chat with yourself or your team about.
- What problem does your business solve?
- Tell your closet friends about it, would your solution help them or others?
- A simple business model is a working business model right?
- You need to be able to explain your business in simple terms.
- Build your business around the problem(s) your product will solve.
- How will people find out about your App?
- Your idea is worth nothing if it doesn’t spread.
- Continue to tweak and update your business model from here.
Did you know Youtube and Facebook both started as dating Apps?...It’s okay to pivot your idea after doing research on customer activity.
Alright so now that you’re thinking about your application more like a business let’s dive a bit deeper. Are there any other current solutions similar to your business right now? If so, this is good! You don’t need to reinvent the wheel here. Research what those companies have done to start and become successful or unsuccessful and continue tweaking your business model.
So continuing the research you’ve been doing on the current Apps that are either like or a bit different then your solution. You probably have a better idea of what you’re about to get into. As like before let’s ask you some more questions
Brainstorm and research time!
- What is your target demographic?
- What does the competition do well?
- What does the competition do poorly?
- Why WON’T your idea work?
- Play a little devil’s advocate here.
- Do you need NDA’s, trademarks, patents?
Knowing your target demographic is important when it comes to building software. Everybody’s going to want to put some input into your applications features. But it’s going to be up to you (the CEO bitch!) to decipher which features are only for a small group of people you are targeting versus what every consumer using your application would want.
When you look at your competition not only do you need to download their App and check out the features and user experience of how it works. But you need to see what approach their marketing team is taking. Is it all social? Email marketing? Word of mouth? Remember your building a digital business here so get ready to learn what SEO, PPC, and ASO are. If you already know what these are, consider yourself above the many with an App idea that actually knows a thing or two about the digital marketing and the app development world. But don’t think you’re too special yet though, experience trumps research any day.
If your competition catches an eye on you could they easily replicate what you are doing?
My guess is they probably could and they probably would. Why does Lyft and Uber both exist? Because companies strive off beating the competition. Have you seen the recent IOS update? Ever seen an older android phone? That right, tons of similarities. You don’t think Android got a patent or trademark on how they do things? They probably did but there is always a way around paperwork and guidelines. Not saying you shouldn’t get a NDA, trademark, or patient but it shouldn’t be your primary focus. What should be your primary focus in building a lock tight business plan that produces happy customers or users.
So we all know why you’re here and it’s not because you have this brilliant App idea that is going to revolutionize the world. It’s because you think this App idea is so good you are going to make a fortune on it right? (Hah let’s hope so..) My next question to you would be how are you going to monetize this application. Here’s a couple quick ways some apps do this.
- Paid Installs: Simple. Users pay a fee to install your app.
- Freemium: Your app has a limited version that’s free to download as well as a full version, which is paid.
- In-App Purchases: The app is free to download and use, but there are special perks users can access by paying for them.
- Subscription: Users pay a monthly or annual fee to use the app.
- Ad Revenue: You don’t charge users for the app, but you show ads in the app and make revenue from the impressions.
So those are the most common ways to monetize an App. Think about each and everyone of them, pro and con them to figure out which one works best for you. Also you don’t have to just stick to one of these you can mix and match or create a new one.
So there’s an App that does none of these and make tons! You know they do it? Email marketing. When a user signs up for your App they give you some personal information such as an email, some interests, and maybe even a phone number. This information can be used to target customers. I’ve seen it done where an App merely uses its platform to leverage leads and generates revenue through affiliate marketing via email.
Alright the juices are flowing now but you wont make any money if you don’t have any users right? Welp, let’s talk marketing!
So driving users to an application or anything on the internet is difficult but not impossible. Just adding an App to the App Store or Play Store does not magically get you downloads, digital marketing does! So what are the channels of digital marketing because boy oh boy is that a broad term. Lets focus on the four major ones with a brief description on how you can leverage these platforms and I’ll hope you’re serious enough about this idea to dive a bit deeper..
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- Blogs and landing pages can be leveraged to expand awareness about your problem. And what do you know? Your App is the solution!
- PPC (Paid Per Click or Paid Advertising)
- Purchase Ad spaces on social media, search engines, and or display networks to spread awareness about your App.
- Email Marketing
- Start collecting emails from friends, family, word of mouth, or digital resources such as the above two, then start a newsletter about your problem describing why your App is the solution.
- Social Media Marketing
- Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest get them all or pick one! Slowly but surely if you create great and relevant content that gets people interested, they will want to download your App.
However much your App cost to build you can triple it and you have a rough estimate of the marketing cost.
Okay now that you got an idea about marketing let’s not forget that your best marketing tool is your current customers. How do you get happy and chatty customers? Create a killer product! From design to user experience to performance, your App’s overall experience is easily the best marketing tool to more users, customers, clients, or whatever you prefer to call them. 😉
I guess this leads me to the next topics that’s probably on the back of your mind.. How do I actually build the App? Isn’t building an App expensive? Do I need investors? All good questions but let’s tackle them one at a time here. Something I learned throughout my engineering career is when faced with a large and overwhelming problem, break it up into smaller parts and attack from there.
So how do you actually build an App? Welp, with code! Here are the ways you can build an App.
- Bring a coder on border (In-house dev)
- Outsourcing (inside US)
- Hire an agency
- Contract a freelancer
- Outsourcing (outside US)
- Hire an agency
- Contract a freelancer
- Using no code resources
- Exchanging someone to build your App for equity
- There’s also a way to drag and drop to build an App kinda like a powerpoint using basically no code. (Weird right? I swear there’s something out there for everyone.)
So you need to hire some developers? Or can you code? If so pat yourself on the back cause things just got a lot cheaper. If not, time to do some research. Cool with hiring some random guy in a foreign country to build it for yah? (Hah didn’t think so..) Research the companies near you first, sit down with a few of them and get some estimates. Also you don’t have to tell them about your idea, just relate your app to a similar app that already exists. Or just get an NDA and problem solved. Don’t just go into these meetings blind by the way research and research some more. See what other Apps these companies have built. Is it a gaming App? Then find a company that specializes in building gaming Apps, you get the idea.
So before going into an agency or just in general wireframing out your App is very useful. Yes the fun part, get yourself a logo, a color scheme, some dope ass animations? I think so. Sketch it out, remember the venn diagrams from elementary school? Get a couple started with your desired feature list. The more detailed and informed you are about your idea the more likely you are to A to get investors or B convince some coder to join your team.
Do you need to find investors? Now let’s remember building an App can get expensive quickly. The typical App cost can range from 20k to 120k just for the first version. (Have a rich friend?) Plus we are not even considering marketing and maintenance costs right now. How long does your App need to reach profitability? These are questions investors are going to ask so get prepared. An investor doesn’t care about how good your “idea” is, they care about when their money is going to come to them back tenfold. They don’t want to invest into an App, they want to invest into a working business model that is like a predictable slot machine for their retirement fund.
Okay so my intention was not to scare you about how difficult the App development world can be, but I just want to inform you of what I want you to expect. There’s a lot of moving parts that are involved in creating a successful App. So let’s just recap on all you learned today.
- The importance of a lean business model
- Competition research
- Knowing your target demographic
- Digital Marketing
- App Development
- Wireframes and storyboarding
- And hopefully a few more tips..