One of the frequent recurring themes I see in the mobile app world is an overly narrow definition of, and excessive fixation on, a “target market.” This can be a serious problem if your target market is not proving profitable “enough” or you do not take steps to evolve with it. It can be profitable to explore some diversification by looking a little to the left and right of your target market.
Perhaps the most important thing to understand is that the Internet is a network, a web, where theoretically any given point can have a relationship (a link) with any other point. The idea is to spend time finding and developing relationships between what you are doing and other points that would be profitable for it. That is what marketing and advertising is all about. If you want to be seen, you go to where people interested in what you offer are.
While you may have a target market for today, you have decisions to make about your target market for tomorrow. Let’s say your game is targeted to teenagers (13-18) – they will get older, their interests will evolve, they will likely find a job, upgrade their mobile device and have greater means for buying things online or through your mobile app. While there will always be a steady stream of new youngsters entering your target market (hopefully), their interests and expectations also evolve, if simply by device and in relation to the apps of tomorrow.
How to Diversify? Diversification is best done on a case by case basis and it can take on several different forms and the following provide a few good examples.
Mobile Apps for Ages 5 – 24. One commonality for almost everyone from ages 5 to 18, and a good portion of those 19 to 24, is the classroom. Common to every classroom is a teacher. By getting one teacher to use your app as the basis for a practical exercise, you could end up reaching up to 180 students. That is 6 one-hour periods with 30 students per day. By virtue of the teacher’s relationship to your target market they could be a fundamental part of it. That does require a distinct decision to include them as part of your target market; if you are not aiming to reach them, odds are you won’t.
Mobile Apps and PC users. The mobile world tends to differentiate itself from the personal computer world, but there are more similarities inherent to the devices than there are differences. The primary differences are inherent to the end users, across a broad range of demographics. However, we are talking about a broad range of demographics wherein a) there are people who do have mobile devices and personal computers, and b) those able to afford a personal computer are likely more able to make an online purchase.
But!!! They won’t make an online purchase if they are not provided the option to do so. The implications here run in several directions spanning your entire product line and marketing efforts.
Consider, for a moment, it may take you three months to develop a mobile game. Conversely, it may take you thirty minutes to set up a web page to promote a product, whether your own, as a cross-promotion, or part of an online store or even through promotions and newsletters. This form of diversification is heavily dependent upon traffic, suffice if you have a lot of traffic and it is not generating revenue for you, it is up to you to find a means of monetizing it (better).
Cross Promotions are inherently a form of diversification for expanding market reach and alternative revenue streams. Mobile apps can have an affinity with mobile devices, mobile subscriptions, other apps or software in the same genre or category, events, books and movies, or nearly anything else sharing a similar theme or purpose.
Work and Other Activities. It could also be that your mobile app utility might perform better as an actual business, service (SaaS), or in conjunction with a membership site. My last article on eSports was another example. It is not a stretch to think that a developer of games might actually play games, too. Knowing some of the internal mechanics of how games work can apply to how to play them better, providing a competitive edge and an opportunity to make money. As many developers have full-time jobs and develop on the side, eSports is becoming an interesting and viable option with the added feature of also being a marketing venue.
Most app developers are not breaking even, as I constantly reiterate. There are numerous reasons for this, but the top three are: 1) app quality, 2) little or no marketing and advertising, and 3) poor business or monetization model.
It is one thing if you are developing apps simply because you enjoy it and don’t really expect to make money from them. If, however, you enjoy it and want to monetize your efforts it is also quite easy to get stuck in a rut where you keep working without realizing tangible benefit. It is also easy to become so fixated on a target marketto not see other profitable opportunities a little to the left or right of it.
For further reference, I would recommend “Reaching a Profitable Target Market” – as sometimes, it is not your product, marketing or advertising to blame for insufficient revenue. It could be your business model or decisions.