Knowing how to make a proper introduction can go a long way to helping you get properly introduced, too. You can always introduce yourself to others, but there are occasions where it is desirable for someone else to make the introduction for you. The functional axiom is that what others have to say about you is more important and usually carries more weight than anything you could say about yourself.
A proper introduction helps to establish trust and rapport between the parties involved. It makes starting a discussion exponentially easier than a cold call – particularly with established veterans and professionals in an industry. Introductions help to expedite discussions toward more productive ends.
Proper introductions are valuable for anyone, which is to say – they may be beneficial to mobile app developers, too. They apply directly to helping you get in front of people who can satisfy a specific need or business objective:
Introductions have historically carried a great deal of weight. Some organizations, most notably fraternal orders like the Masons, developed their own protocols to make it easier for their members to “vet” one another. Trust is a big part of any business relationship, but it usually takes time to build, sometimes too long. Who are you going to trust more – someone you’ve known for twenty years or someone you just met? Following that logic, are you likely to trust someone referred to you by a friend of twenty years more than someone who just emailed you a business proposition?
Vetting is a natural, normal and sane approach to business. Today there is some friction between that which is known as the “Good Ole Boy Network” and “Transparency” – suffice that even where transparency is required in business, there is also a vetting process involved to make sure those applying for a contract (as an example) have the capabilities of fulfilling it.
You are responsible for the introductions that you make – they are representative of your reputation and judgement. Introducing someone who turns out to be a problem for the person they were introduced to will likely hold that you in association with that problem, too. Leastwise, you always want to strive to make favorable introductions – based on honest evaluations of how favorable the interests of those being introduced are met.
Easy enough to do, a proper introduction includes:
Here’s a basic example of an introduction that you might send via email:
It’s been a while since we last talked but I remember your business keeps an eye out for promising mobile apps. In this regard, I would like to introduce you to John Smith from Copenhagen, who is the founder of myuniqueapp.dot.com.
John is interested in possibilities for joint marketing opportunities and strategic partnerships. We’ve been talking about the things he is able to offer for about three months. It looks to me like it would be good for the two of you to talk. He will be attending the conference in London in December, so he could meet with you personally.
We’ve known each other for a few years, and as you know I do my best to send qualified opportunities your way. I think John has something for you to consider – and with that, I will leave the floor to him.
Best of luck to both of you,
The format can be customized as the situation dictates, suffice that it provides everything to get discussions rolling on a productive basis.
There’s quite a bit more to cover regarding introductions – which I will do next week. Perhaps an unusual topic as relates to mobile app development, it should not be. Making business deals is not something most would call easy – and is probably even harder for most app developers.
The process of introducing and getting introduced is itself a “strategic initiative” that the vast majority of businesses ignore – quite often to their detriment. Most organizations are suffering from an excessive reliance upon “tech” and not enough involvement with the “human” side of the equation.
As with everything, there are processes to follow – and we will get to them.
It may be a bit of an exaggeration, but in principle – yes, there is “free money” out there for those enterprising enough to find it and go after it. Enter the world of grants where governments, large corporations and sometimes universities, non-government organizations and private foundations provide money to do… something. Grants do not require repayment. For our purposes, we can also include “requests for tender” which are invitations for proposals.
The following are just a (very) few examples reflecting the variety of organizations issuing grants, what they are for, and grant sizes.
Before going further, I want to qualify that this is not “easy money” and it is not particularly “fast” either. Considerable research and paperwork is involved coupled with a sometimes lengthy evaluation process. It can take from 6 months to 2 years or longer to receive any funds – all variable per project and issuing organization.
On the other hand, grant money is money that is already budgeted. It is there and someone will get it. The number of people or organizations applying for grant money tends to be a small, but very competitive field. Quite simply, most grants are not widely advertised, few know about them, fewer still apply for them.
Grants are like a lottery ticket, except for two things. You can’t buy the ticket – instead you do the research, the paperwork and complete the application process which is specific to each grant. While you are not guaranteed to win a grant, the more familiar you become with the grant process the greater your chances of winning future grants. That comes through research, talking with other grant writers, being better prepared with the information needed for the next grant application, as well as developing relationships with grant-issuing organizations.
Grants are worth pursuing if you are:
The last of these deserves extra comment. Many businesses are involved directly or indirectly with the kinds of research, development, technology and other interests usually associated with grants – but are not involved in pursuing grants. Some of them would be if they knew about them and had someone able to pursue them (do the research to find them, coordinate the grant paperwork, go through the application process, etc.).
That could be a job for “someone” – potentially a small business unto itself. Essentially, those interested in this pursuit would first get tied into all of the different grant opportunities and look for other “aligned” businesses, developers or other business arrangements such as special purpose vehicles (SPV’s).
First, this will often depend upon where you live (country/geographical region). Second, “following the money” will likely lead you to government agencies, large corporations, banks and universities – specific to your country. Additionally, you will want to keep an eye on international aid programs like USAID, EBRD (European Bank of Reconstruction and Development), the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Project, various agencies of the United Nations, and all manner of Start-Up Accelerators and Incubators.
A more proactive approach would involve setting up a Google Alert or an “If This Then That” recipe to keep you notified of new grant opportunities as they are announced.
Requests for tender deserve mention in conjunction with grants in that they provide money for you to develop something much more specific. This puts you in the business of being a subcontractor. The big difference is that you will not hold the rights to the end product.
While most grants are for utility-based apps, there are occasionally grants awarded for games – especially with an educational bent.
Winning your first grant or bid will be your greatest challenge, but once you do – future applications will be easier not only for your familiarity with the process but for also having something to show. It probably won’t be easy. Completing your first grant application might involve several days of effort. After a couple, you can have all the work done in 1-2 days. Then it is just a matter of waiting to see if you win or not – and not giving up on applying to future grants.
Need another great, potentially free, way to promote your apps? Challenge your players to compete for prizes and bragging rights. We’ll take a look at some of the benefits, options and possibilities that you can explore to help you get the greatest benefit from engaging your players with contests.
First, competitions can be announced any time as special events, or on an ongoing monthly or seasonal basis. They mainly require some creativity coupled with time and effort to promote. Where possible, keep the theme and rewards central to the nature of your app. It’s appropriate to try planning a month ahead of time and having everything set up at least two weeks before the competition is announced. Plan on at least a week’s worth of promoting the event – getting announcements out to web sites, posted on social networking channels, perhaps even updating your app’s description on app stores.
The type of competition should be centered around the kind of app you have and the elements of it that can be easily measured – whether in a video, screenshot or through your own in-app tracking. This might be associated with doing something the fastest, getting the highest score, being the first to reach a certain level or unlock.
However, competitions do not need to be performance-based. Coolest screenshots, puzzles based on in-game content, Easter Egg hunts, most interesting build or load-out, funniest captions, even fan fiction, can all serve as a cool event to promote your apps and games.
Real prizes like free mobile devices or cash are great. Most developers, however, tend to be short on cash, so first we will take a look at Virtual and Vanity Item rewards. After that, we’ll return to more tangible prizes.
One only needs to consider that Blizzard generated $2.1 million in sales of its Celestial Steed mount in 2010 to realize that virtual vanity items have “real value.” Value has always been subjective, and it’s become even more abstract in the digital age.
Virtual rewards can include anything that equates to a “quality of life” improvement for the player – being able to run faster, have a faster mount, extra storage, be able to summon bankers or vendors, have extra crafting professions, swap builds for free, in-game or in-app store discounts, account upgrades, a free month of premium game time, etc. They can include performance enhancing prizes – better gear, vehicle upgrades, stat boosts. Rewards could just as easily be a new “skin”, a rare pet or mount, unique items or titles.
The benefits of virtual rewards are that, aside from your development time, they are free – can be given away as many times as you like. The main concerns with these rewards are maintaining balance in the game and its economy. That said, you can easily establish multiple tiers of rewards so that everyone who participates gets something, while the “best” and perhaps “wild card” winners get something better.
Real rewards, in the sense of something more tangible, do not necessarily require a large budget. Here, again, you have many options available to you. You can offer rewards out of your own pocket or budget, or you can coordinate with another app developer or business to sponsor your competition.
Offering real rewards will usually require you to observe local laws regarding contests, and it may be necessary to limit eligibility on a regional and/or age basis.
Taking money out of your own budget is the “easiest” approach. It is not necessarily the best approach, but in certain cases could be a good option to consider. Cash prizes are offered by some games and most tournaments. Instead of cash prizes, you could offer digital devices, t-shirts and other “paraphernalia” (via sites like Café Press), gift certificates, or other mobile app or software products. This lets you shop around with whatever budget you may have.
But, you don’t necessarily have to foot the bill yourself. You have the option to approach other businesses to sponsor your event, too! This approach sets up the potential that they may help promote your event – wherein your event offers prizes that promote them. Win-Win. Make sure to give your sponsors like this a nice write up in conjunction alongside your promotion of the event.
Say you have a F2P “Racing” app, good but not top of the line. You could approach the developer of a premium “Racing” app offering to promote it in exchange for one or more free copies to offer as prizes. All the way around, this would be a mutually beneficial arrangement.
In some cases, you may be able to arrange an extra commission with the developer of the premium app for any purchases and downloads you are able to generate for them. This is heavily dependent upon their tracking mechanisms and would be easier if you are able to provide coupon/discount codes.
Functionally, your prizes could be just about anything – virtual items or currency, unlocks, an account upgrade, a slot on your beta test team, cash, tangible products or simply bragging rights. The greater the perceived “relative value” – the more compelling the competition is likely to be.
You have the capacity to enable others to announce competitions on your behalf!
This is a great way to gain “evangelists” in promoting your app. Remember, there are two types of “super users” – those who help monetize it for you by using your app and purchasing in-app products, and those who help promote your app. Both are important, suffice that your “evangelists” are the ones who are best able to help you attract paying customers. There are even game sites that cater to announcing game competitions – and you don’t need to be the latest and greatest app to get a mention.
Offer your “evangelists” incentives for their own game play and prizes they can distribute to their audience. The easier you make it for your closest followers and greatest fans to promote you – the more likely they are to do so. The more you promote them – the more likely they are to run events. And, the more you are able to help them monetize those events or expand their own audience encourages them all the more.
A target market, simply enough, is the group of people you focus on reaching with your app, product or service because you believe they are the most likely to pay for it or use it. Your target market is the cornerstone of your marketing strategy. Some clarifications and notes are appropriate as many businesses really have a hard time defining a “viable target market” – in relation to a good Product/Market Fit.
This infers an audience of end-users that:
Note that many developers relying upon in-app advertising for their revenue only need people to use their product, not necessarily pay for it.
Most companies heavily focus on only one of these points, A or B or C. Profitable and successful companies do their best to address all three A, B and C. Note that while this is written mainly for mobile app developers, it also applies to almost all small businesses, too.
Most developers, most companies, focus heavily on product – constantly striving to improve their product, always trying to improve their product’s fit to the market. Product Focus is heavy on tech focusing on improving Features, Interface, Price, and other items intrinsic to “The Product.”
Product Focus naturally comes first – it is The Idea and The Solution to a Problem that prompts starting a business in the first place. It is, equally, a natural result of looking at what someone else has done and thinking you can make it better, faster, or cheaper. Improving your product makes it more competitive, more attractive, more likely to compel people who see it to buy it or use it.
The benefit of this focus is to improve conversion rates in your target market.
This is all good, but it could be better by having a larger target market.
Most new businesses do not fail for technical reasons, but for other issues ranging from lack of preparation, funding, marketing, lack of revenue diversification and management.
Generally speaking, a poor product with great marketing will perform far, far better than a great product with poor marketing. That is why we are surrounded by fast food chains. There might be some argument there, but it is an analogy that will keep me out of too much trouble.
Good marketing engages to reach either the largest possible OR the most profitable pool of consumers while remaining true to its product. There is a lot to marketing, suffice that it comes down to maximizing either your Quantity or Quality – in both product and customer base.
Remaining true to the product is the common denominator. This is where your Unique Sales Proposition (USP) comes into play. While your USP could be product-specific, it affords you the potential to differentiate yourself beyond your product.
As long as you have a functioning product and intend to continue improving your product, then the people who could use it become the center of attention.
Let’s take the case of a utility app for accountants. It’s designed for accountants. That might be your core target market. Or not. Who else does accounting? Small business owners? Tax advisors? Moms with households on a budget?
Leastwise, if you are able to produce very sophisticated accounting apps, odds are darned good you can make simplified, watered-down accounting apps that every day mothers could use, too. Marketing, at least, can help define areas of opportunity that could fit the product.
Target market is important, it is the cornerstone of your business – but defining it too narrowly will, in most cases, reduce your revenue potential unnecessarily. Again, in most cases, if you are in business you are looking to create opportunities, not eliminate them.
There are exceptions to that rule – and they usually pertain to premium and prestigious products and brands where the minimum customer commitment is outside the average (think Golf Club Memberships and having a representative from Goldman Sachs as your personal investment advisor).
That level of premium placement is not typical for most small businesses – even if they might like to be there, the odds of starting there are slim to none. It is almost always necessary to build up to that.
This is where the REAL fun is – as it concerns You and Your Company encompassing your Products, Marketing, Networking and Making Deals. Here is where you are able to turn what you have into far more.
Revenue models are one component involved here – free (with in app advertising), freemium with upgrades or in-app store, premium, subscription sales, subscription-based distribution programs, package bundling, content partnering and more.
Which is best for you? Well, that takes some research to determine. Many online companies have switched from subscription models to free-to-play models with in-game store options. We are also seeing companies going from free-to-play back to subscription models, too.
A focus on business models could you lead to look at any one of the following possibilities to help build your business and maximize your revenue, too:
As a special recommendation, see Ash Maurya’s “10 steps to Product/Market Fit” (on Slideshare.net).
The Black Sea SummIT underscored that it would be a good idea to provide some tips for your next public presentation. These points would apply to expos, conferences, or simply delivering presentations about your company – whether in a B2B, investor or public format. Whether you are an app developer or pretty much in any business, the same factors apply.
Most conferences, trade fairs and expos 1) rent vendor/exhibit space, 2) openly accept guest speakers, and 3) offer great opportunities for meeting others in the industry, networking and making deals. It is always worth attending local events relevant to your trade. Costs of admission, travel, lodging and the time involved warrant prioritizing any non-local events you attend. This warrants doing some research in advance on which events best match your interests and desired opportunities. It also mandates a budget and establishing goals that will contribute to some kind of return on your investment.
The focus here is on three things to help you get the most out of your next conference.
Knowing who will be participating at an event provides an open door to business opportunities. They are looking for opportunities, too. If they weren’t, they probably would not be attending. Make a list of participants and try to define what you have to offer them along with what they may have to offer you.
Depending upon your business, product or service line, possibilities exist for negotiating special terms for advertising, distribution, cross-promotions, software trials, training, perhaps sharing of market data. There could also be opportunities to initiate agreements with mobile device manufacturers to ship with your app pre-installed. In some cases, there may be opportunities to form joint ventures or special purpose vehicles to enter new markets.
Knowing who will be there and having desired outcomes for each will transform the event into a high intensity engagement where really big deals are possible.
The difference between a good presentation and a bad one comes down to three fairly simple factors.
Most events are covered by several press agencies – newspapers, television, bloggers, industry magazines, etc. All have the intention of producing at least one article or story about the event. Take advantage of this for free press and publicity.
One vital step in preparing for the conference is to have a press packet tailored for the event and the kind of media exposure you want. Note that for these events especially, your press packet should include some “quotes” from your CEO/CIO/CTO/CFO, co-founders, president or vice-presidents. These are as good as gold to journalists writing stories.
This should include any recent app releases, upcoming releases, beta tests, calls for beta testers, search for investors, a story about your company or endeavors that is fit for a broader audience, or something more creative. It could also be useful for letting the person know you are someone who can help source information for them.
Make it a point to find the press people at these events and you could be handsomely rewarded with free press coverage and possibly a long-term relationship with a media venue. Odds are you helped make their job a little bit easier.
These points are good whether you are a mobile app developer, in tech or not. If you intend to deliver a presentation in front of a large group of people, spend some time rehearsing in front of others. The advanced preparation is likely to help you stand out and deliver a better, more memorable impression to the people you want to reach. These are events where people are looking for deals, the worst thing they can do is say no. Get the right people to say yes, and you won’t ever have to worry about hearing “no” again.