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Old 11-20-2012, 04:45 AM   #1
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Selling Mobile Marketing Apps to Local Businesses?

What do you guys think about this business idea: selling mobile apps to local businesses.


Basically, I would get access to app-building template software, which would probably run from like $1,000 to $2,000 dollars (one company I've been looking at is GoMobileSolutions - http://gomobilesolutions.com/). This software takes the information from a business' website and puts it into a basic app, then allows you to add other features (like the ability to "check-in") and edit the information as you see fit. The apps can be made in just a few hours (no coding knowledge necessary, and I currently have no coding knowledge whatsoever).

After the upfront costs there are some variable costs in the form of different fees per app, but these fees shouldn't hurt margins too much.


I would approach local small businesses and pitch them on getting into the mobile marketing space. The software allows you to create demo apps BEFORE you go to pitch, so the business owner can hold and play around with his app right then and there.

Benefits to local businesses that these apps can provide include the following:

- The ability to engage customers and build customer loyalty by allowing them to accumulate "check-in" points that can be redeemed for discounts and special offers (and to share this check-in information on facebook/twitter to create word of mouth buzz). Basically, the business can create gamification.

- The ability to send push notifications to alert customers of special offerings, discounts, sales, and coupons (e.g. a night club that is having an extra happy hour this week).

- Having a mobile app allows the business to look more credible (stronger branding).

-Turn by turn GPS directions

-For restaurants, the ability to order from the app.


Average selling price for these apps is supposedly $2000, but since that comes from the fox who is guarding the hen house, I think $1,000 to $1500 on average is probably more realistic.


So basically, I'm acting as a reseller for GoMobileSolutions (or whatever company I choose), and a mobile marketing consultant/developer for local businesses. I also think this can potentially be leveraged into other jobs such as doing social media marketing for the business.


Appreciate any thoughts/feedback.

Last edited by Gswaggg; 11-20-2012 at 04:52 AM.
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Old 11-20-2012, 07:22 AM   #2
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Re: Selling Mobile Marketing Apps to Local Businesses?

What is the average age is a small business owner?

Do you think people that age will buy into the benefits of mobile apps and social media BS?
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Old 11-20-2012, 08:58 AM   #3
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Re: Selling Mobile Marketing Apps to Local Businesses?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gswaggg View Post
This software takes the information from a business' website and puts it into a basic app, then allows you to add other features (like the ability to "check-in") and edit the information as you see fit. The apps can be made in just a few hours (no coding knowledge necessary, and I currently have no coding knowledge whatsoever).
Look, apps are coding. You can buy "off the shelf" app building solutions, but you're going to get a pile of dog crap out of it.

I don't understand why you're thinking of getting into a business in which you have zero knowledge. Nearly all businesses that do well (most fail) provide some truly custom created value, not an off-the-shelf solution.

Quote:
I would approach local small businesses and pitch them on getting into the mobile marketing space. The software allows you to create demo apps BEFORE you go to pitch, so the business owner can hold and play around with his app right then and there.
I can imagine a few businesses are stupid enough to sign up for this with the right salespeople, but at the end of the day you can only sell so many turds before your business starts to stink.

Quote:
-For restaurants, the ability to order from the app.
I can't see you doing this competently, let alone for $1000+, without knowing how to code. Again, people might be willing to pay for a custom app, but they're going to want more than what "create-an-app" spits out, which is basically a squeezed down version of their website.

Why not actually spend two weeks learning to code? Most of the app languages are very easy to learn. You write well and think logically, you could be a competent app coder is two weeks with a bit of persistence.

If your marketing does work, the time spent learning coding will pay itself back many times over in terms of features you can add and bugs you can easily fix. There are loads of free tutorials and tools available, here is one site for example (although buying a book or signing up for a real life course is the most effective way to learn):

http://designthencode.com/scratch/

Quote:
Average selling price for these apps is supposedly $2000, but since that comes from the fox who is guarding the hen house, I think $1,000 to $1500 on average is probably more realistic.
Look, I may be underestimating how many suckers there are out there, but there is maybe $200 value in what you're offering. If you're happy polishing turds and selling them for cash, good for you, but why not actually do something productive and innovative and give yourself a real shot at making money long term? Learning a skill in depth and creating something of genuine unique value will make you much more likely to get rich, much more likely to be happy with what you've done, and much more likely to learn things which will make you rich (maybe in a new business idea if this one doesn't work out).
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Old 11-20-2012, 11:29 AM   #4
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Re: Selling Mobile Marketing Apps to Local Businesses?

I have done this in the past but the apps were custom built. It is hard to go and sell apps to small businesses. The web is good enough for them. I was marketing in mass and trying to get $500 an app.

Its hard work to do. There are issues that pop up with apps and tech changes. Then what happens? They just have a dead app...
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Old 11-20-2012, 11:48 AM   #5
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Re: Selling Mobile Marketing Apps to Local Businesses?

I built an app, that was way better than what the solution provided in the OP could do. It was essentially a coupon framework, that worked with QR codes to "punch a card within the app", where an owner could setup a loyalty deal (buy 10 get 1 free, visit 5 times get 10$ off your order etc), it also had an area to search for local restaurants within our network, find out contact/menu/store hours, etc. It demonstrated real value. It was really really really hard to get anyone signed up, let alone get them to pay money, enough so that I scrapped the whole project. I would really stay away from business to small business models.
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Old 11-20-2012, 11:51 AM   #6
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Re: Selling Mobile Marketing Apps to Local Businesses?

The restaurant thing has sort of been done by buzztable. They came out of a NYC accelerator program. Not sure how they're doing now, but they worked hard to sign up restaurants.
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Old 11-21-2012, 03:25 AM   #7
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Re: Selling Mobile Marketing Apps to Local Businesses?

Thanks for all the feedback so far, very helpful.

Another question I would ask you guys: what's the harm in trying it out? I would only need 1 or 2 sales to break even (which I would think can be done by playing a numbers game). So at worst, I at least gain some sales experience. I probably should have added in the OP that I'm in college and don't really have any expenses or monetary responsibilities, so once I break even on the upfront cost I'm pretty much free rolling after that.


With regards to learning code, I am interested in that (in fact I signed up for an intro class on Udacity a few weeks ago and got through a few videos, but have been very busy the last few weeks with classes and some other projects). But if I can make the time, why not try both?
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Old 11-21-2012, 10:12 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gswaggg View Post
Thanks for all the feedback so far, very helpful.

Another question I would ask you guys: what's the harm in trying it out? I would only need 1 or 2 sales to break even (which I would think can be done by playing a numbers game). So at worst, I at least gain some sales experience. I probably should have added in the OP that I'm in college and don't really have any expenses or monetary responsibilities, so once I break even on the upfront cost I'm pretty much free rolling after that.


With regards to learning code, I am interested in that (in fact I signed up for an intro class on Udacity a few weeks ago and got through a few videos, but have been very busy the last few weeks with classes and some other projects). But if I can make the time, why not try both?
No harm. If you think it can work and you want real life learning experience then do it.
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Old 11-22-2012, 12:45 PM   #9
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Re: Selling Mobile Marketing Apps to Local Businesses?

Fair enough if you want to do something to gain sales experience and all that, but I don't really understand how an off-the-shelf app can benefit a small business?

Any small business you approach will be concerned with how this app will increase their profit - how will you answer this?

Also apps don't market themselves. Once they've paid for the app, do you/they expect users to come flooding in?

Here's my thoughts on the benefits/features you outlined that the app would provide:

Quote:
- The ability to engage customers and build customer loyalty by allowing them to accumulate "check-in" points that can be redeemed for discounts and special offers (and to share this check-in information on facebook/twitter to create word of mouth buzz). Basically, the business can create gamification.

Can't this can be achieved with Facebook/4square and all the other check-in style apps out there? They also have a better feature set. You'll be very stuck in terms of what you can offer here, I'd imagine the other options that are already available for free will provide more value.

Also what happens when the business asks you to integrate this into their own backend, or a social network or something? You'll have to say no right?

- The ability to send push notifications to alert customers of special offerings, discounts, sales, and coupons (e.g. a night club that is having an extra happy hour this week).

In my opinion, a good email and text marketing campaign will not only be cheaper but also more effective that this. Also with email/text you don't need to have an app installed or run the risk of someone turning off notifications on their phone.

- Having a mobile app allows the business to look more credible (stronger branding).

I'm not really sure I agree with that in this case. If the business has a good app that provides some custom feature that can't be found elsewhere then maybe it's likely to get good feedback from customers. But if it's just a boring app that offers no value, it may give the business less credibility?

-Turn by turn GPS directions

Can't you do this by just clicking an address from a website and then selecting turn-by-turn in whatever phone maps etc you use? I wouldn't want to use a dedicated app to navigate to each specific business I go to.

-For restaurants, the ability to order from the app.

In reality I don't think many people would actually use this feature. Not to mention the fact that you can just as easily order over the phone, and there's the likes of just-eat/hungryhouse etc that offer this as well as exposure etc.
Not trying to put a downer on anything, just genuinely interested as to how you'll answer these questions.

In my opinion, I think you'd be better off weighing up all the different marketing outlets and offering them all as a package from a marketing/consultancy point of view as opposed to providing a service which you know nothing about and have no ability to really customize. Also I think by offering a package you'll broaden your horizons in terms of increasing your knowledge and experience overall (you're not likely to learn to code an app any time soon, but you can actually learn actionable marketing stuff straight off the bat)

You could start with a free text message marketing campaign which would cost you peanuts, then once the business starts to see results you can offer other paid services?
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Old 11-22-2012, 01:11 PM   #10
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Re: Selling Mobile Marketing Apps to Local Businesses?

We happen to sell text marketing campaigns and come up against mobile apps quite often. It depends on who we are pitching, but typically restaurants and retailers should use both technologies. Many businesses like text because it appeals to a more broad market and it's far less to start up. Also, getting opt-ins for texts is quick and painless compared to apps, but apps can utilize some more robust features. We are strongly considering selling apps in addition to texting to increase our offering to different verticals who really have no use for text marketing.
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Old 11-22-2012, 01:14 PM   #11
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Re: Selling Mobile Marketing Apps to Local Businesses?

I'd argue that in the vast majority of situations mobile apps and text marketing offer zero value and will actually harm more businesses than it helps. There is a very small percentage of businesses for which this is beneficial.
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Old 11-22-2012, 07:27 PM   #12
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Re: Selling Mobile Marketing Apps to Local Businesses?

Others have already mentioned how difficult it is to get in front of SMB owners and find businesses where other solutions , like text message or email marketing don't provide better value.

In addition to those challenges, the company you're looking at it is just an expensive reseller of BiznessApps platform.
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Old 11-22-2012, 11:37 PM   #13
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Re: Selling Mobile Marketing Apps to Local Businesses?

I'm curious why the two posters above are claiming that text marketing has no value. Our clients are finding it extremely beneficial and profitable.
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Old 11-22-2012, 11:46 PM   #14
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Re: Selling Mobile Marketing Apps to Local Businesses?

My post was saying that text message marketing generally provided better value than apps for local businesses. I worded it poorly.
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Old 11-22-2012, 11:51 PM   #15
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Re: Selling Mobile Marketing Apps to Local Businesses?

Oh ok, no worries. What do you think of the Bizness Apps platform?
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