December 1, 2012 Developer Blog No Comments

Along the way we will need to get into various marketing methods to really push our app businesses to the next level.  The most common attempts from those who are just starting out at physical marketing and advertising methods usually end up being in the print media or non-human interaction areas of advertising.  Most people who are new to advertising and marketing their business tend to be afraid of saying hello, and its not that they are afraid of talking to people, it could very well be the main fear that gets most of us and that is the fear of rejection.

Even now after many years of having a solid foundation in Retail Sales as well as learning some of the most advanced method of cold calling and dealing with customers, I still have jitters every now and again about rejection.  When you are running a small business, you tend to think sometimes that others will be able to do the job for you, but I can assure you that no one knows your product (in most cases) better than you do, especially if you’re an entrepreneur!

So let me cut right to the chase…the BEST most effective way to close any sales deal is WORD OF MOUTH marketing.  Basically what this means in a nutshell is that people tend to trust a person over an advertisement.  Secondly, they tend to trust a real human being over a salesperson.

So how do you:
a. Meet People who would be interested in your business
b. Not “SELL” them anything and at the same time increase your sales

Wow does that ever sound challenging?

The solution for the first part is LOCAL MARKETING.  The solution to the second part is REFERRING BUSINESS to others first and genuinely trying to help the other people make money as well.

Now the stuff I’m about to go over will work for both the App Business and for other businesses as well.  Some of the methods I have been using for my app business have been creating flyers, business cards and email lists discussing our latest apps and business.  When I meet people I will usually talk less and listen more to them and take a genuine interest in trying to help them out.  After meeting them, I generally will follow up with an email and really keep them in mind when I meet people to see if I can find them business.  I also ask them if they would like to join up on my mailing list as well and would pass around my newsletter or promotions to those that they feel would be interested as well.  This goes into building a solid RELATIONSHIP rather than becoming a sleazy sales person looking to just close the deal.  So let me now go over the two areas so you get a solid idea on each.

LOCAL MARKETING

Here is a list of websites that will help you to find professional business to business and business to customer networking and marketing events in your local areas (Some will charge a cover fee, some will be completely free to attend.  ALWAYS dress professional during mornings, semi-professional during evening events and I would not ever recommend to ever go with running shoes and a t-shirt unless there is ever a reason to.  First impressions DO MATTER!):

Meetup (http://www.meetup.com):  This is the best place in my opinion to find local events in your area.  You simply define the search parameters and it shows you all the local physical networking events that are coming up.

Lanyrd (http://www.lanyrd.com): Another great event listing site which lists down many events and even allows you to search them as well.  Lanyrd deals more with conferences, however you may end up finding some solid conferences that you can attend and meet many people who may be interested in your apps.  If you have built a Health app for example, a great conference would be one with a lot of Health Professionals in it.

Upcoming (http://upcoming.yahoo.com/): This is another conference site, but deals also with many local events that may also be non-business.  I’d recommend checking out the conferences and local business networking groups with meetings coming up.

BNI (http://www.bni.com): The grand daddy of networking in my opinion.  I learned so very much from joining up to my own local BNI Chapter in the past.  If you are serious about networking then BNI is the place to be.  The cost may be an issue, but it is well worth it in the long run.   If you’re looking at networking, or even learning how to become a better net worker AND grow your business at the same time, then BNI is the way. The base concept is that 30 or so local business owners get 30-60 seconds to state what it is they do around a table while eating breakfast or lunch.  At the end of the meeting, referrals are passed around and deals are made every week!

Eventbrite (http://www.eventbrite.com/): This is a great site to find local business meetings and conferences you can attend.

Eventful (http://www.eventful.com): This is another one of those great event finding websites, however it features events in all topic areas.  I highly recommend searching through to see what related events are coming up which have business and networking in mind.  With a simple search you can find local networking and business opportunities!

Zvents (http://www.zvents.com/): This one is similar to Eventful and requires a search to find relevant networking opportunities.

OTHER GROUPS TO CHECK OUT (Google these very VERY important groups):  Your local Board of Trade, Chamber of Commerce, Lions Club, Toast Masters, and also do a search for local business networking groups!  There are many that are available throughout your local area.

BEFORE ARRIVING TO ANY MEETING/EVENT

Firstly before even deciding to go to an event, have a plan of action.  Choose ONLY those events that fit your target market or niche best.  Don’t just randomly start going to an event just because you think “EVERYONE” is your target market.  Not everyone likes “Chocolate Bars” so don’t assume everyone is the “MARKET” for your product.  If your apps are educational, choose events and venues with local business owners or conferences dealing with the education market.  Don’t just end up at a “Top Dogs and Puppies” conference thinking you’ll be able to get everyone to buy your app!  Dogs and Puppies are a VERY different target market than education!  You’d be better off hitting up a conference for new teachers or a universities and colleges conference.  Okay so now lets move onto some important points before heading to a meeting and during a meeting:

1. Arrive EARLY by 15 minutes, but don’t be there so early that you distract the organizers either.  Be punctual but don’t be a pest.

2. ALWAYS have business cards and marketing material ready.  If you’re planning to go to a networking event without these basic required items, then don’t bother going.

3. Leave your family/life/personal issues at the DOOR!  A POSITIVE mentality is required when you go into these events.  If you are planning to go in there looking to make friends who you would hang out with over the weekend, then you’re in the wrong place.  This is a professional environment, so keep it professional.

4. Don’t drink TOO MUCH! Several of these events (Such as boards of trade or chamber of commerce monthly evening networking events) will tend to give you free drinks at the bar.  Keep your focus on building relationships, not on just getting carried away drinking.  Not only is it dangerous for you, it can make you hurt your business image and could also be potentially dangerous if you plan to drive after that.

5. Don’t eat TOO MUCH! Yes you heard me right! Many of these events feature breakfast or lunch.  The last thing you want is to be educating a business networking partner on your business only to have to end up going to the bathroom.  You never know who you’re speaking with sometimes, and the last thing you want is to walk away from the CEO of a corporation with thousands of employees who may be interested in your services or to someone who is so well connected that they simply tell people about your apps and your sales increase.  I myself one time had to walk away to the bathroom only to find out that the person I was speaking to was one of five owners/partners in a 500 million dollar company with over 2000 employees worldwide!

6. Arrive Early, Stay Late!  Networking should never be rushed!  Spend time with as many people as you can, and stay late to get to know everyone.  There are many times you’ll end up spending time with the event creators as well and could lead to a great business relationship that could get you into more venues or even give you the opportunity to speak or present your business in other upcoming meetings.

7. SHOW AND TELL!  Always have a reason for your conversations.  What are you looking for this week?  Did you just develop a new app? Show it! Take your iPad/iPhone along and always have your apps ready to show people.  This will definitely get them engaged and will allow you to easily break the ice and start the conversation.

8. LISTEN! Always have a genuine interest in learning about other peoples businesses! Don’t just talk and go on and on about your business.  This is a sharing experience, and in fact I would recommend talking less and listening more.

9. TALK! Learn to talk at the right times and have a 30 second pitch about your business and how you or your business helps others out.  Talk about benefits rather than what you do.  Example: “We make apps” does not share benefits of what you do.  Something like, “We help people have fun with their iPad/iPhone while bored on a train to work or taking a quick study break at school by creating interesting and fun apps and games” is a better pitch.  Another example would be if you are an accountant, you wouldn’t want to just say “I’m an accountant”, but instead try and show how you help people out, “We help take the stress out of taxes”.  You get the point?  Make a 30 second pitch on who you are, what’s your business, and what you’re looking for!

10. DO NOT SELL OR CLOSE A DEAL!  The point of networking is NOT to close a deal the first time you meet someone!  I know it may seem like a weird statement, but the goal is to build a relationship.  You’re not in it for the get-rich-quick cash flow, you’re in it for the long, consistent, growing cash flow that can only come from a solid business that grows in reputation.  Do you want your business to be looked at like it’s a “used car salesman” or like a fortune 500 company?  The choice is up to you!

BUILDING A RELATIONSHIP

1. After every event, always follow up a day or two later with an email or a call to thank the person and to ask them to join your mailing list.

2. Ask them to go for a coffee to learn more about how you can refer their business better!  Book a time to have a professional sit down which will help you to learn more about this person and vice versa.

3. Always respect email rules and never spam anyone.  If they do not wish to join a mailing list, don’t do it.  You’re better off forgetting about them and moving onto another potential business relationship.

4. You will ALWAYS find the traveling sales person.  Don’t get conned into pushy sales people.  Also, don’t become  a pushy sales person yourself.

5. AIM FOR 1-3 months to build the relationship out.  During this time, help refer business to people and in turn they will want to do the same.

6. Always thank your referral partners (that’s what you call these relationships) for the business they have given to you in the year.  An easy way to do this is to simply send out a thank you card every year.  There are many services that can help you out if you have a bulk list of contacts such as one that I have tried before called SendOutCards.com.

 

So there you have it!  Basic local word of mouth marketing, when done right, can yield massive results for your app business!

Thanks for reading, see you next time!

God Bless!

Abhinav Gupta
Written by Abhinav Gupta
Abhinav Gupta is the Lead Developer and CEO of Game Scorpion Inc. He has been developing apps and games for several years and has a passion for creating new things. The apps he and his team have created have been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times across the world in various markets and platforms including Apple iOS, Android, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and even Blackberry RIM. He has written several pieces on the subject of mobile apps and mobile business and has even been seen discussing his apps, courses and training in several prestigious venues including one recently in 2012 at the Blackberry Dev Jam in Montreal, Canada.