Tackling Distribution Channels—Which Place? Applying the 4 P's of Marketing to Apps, Part 2b

Because the AppStore is the only store that we are allowed to actually sell our iOS apps directly, many developers choose to only list their products in the AppStore. However, by doing so, a developer has ignored many distribution channels where an app can be marketed. In addition, if a mobile developer is on a different platform, many app stores exist for which to list apps. In my last post I covered designing the shelf space of the Place “P” of marketing. In this post I'll suggest various first tier (app stores) and second tier distribution channels in which to target the Place application of marketing.

Distribution is the Place! Defining your Shelf Space—Applying the 4 P's of Marketing to Apps, Part 2a

The structured approach to marketing should appeal to most technical people. Marketing can seem like a magical black box, but the 4 P's: Product, Price, Promotion, and Place (aka distribution) are what's inside. The best marketing plan can be broken down and addressed in each area. Let's tackle Place—anywhere your app has a virtual space on a shelf, with a link to buy. Foremost is the AppStore, but it's not the only Place. Place is everywhere your product is listed from your website, aggregate app listing websites, and perhaps inside app-listing-apps. Free apps have additional areas where they can be listed, such as the free app a day sites. If you develop for other mobile platforms, place includes other paid storefronts. In my last blog post I covered Product; this post will move onto Place, which is essentially the distribution channels and your virtual “shelf space” within them. Because a lot of details can be covered concerning Place, I'm going to divide this topic into two posts, shelf space and channels. “Shelf space” will describe how to apply marketing to the design of your app's presentation in a single distribution channel. “Channels” will cover applying your shelf space across multiple distribution channels, discussing your varying options.

Applying the 4P's of Marketing to Apps, Part I: Product

Many developers are using a “shoot from the hip” approach to marketing their apps, if anything at all. It's not that developers don't want to market, but the question often is, where to start? As an engineer, I was always excited when encountering a formula or a structured method in my business classes. In marketing, there IS a structured approach—the 4 P's: Product, Price, Promotion, and Place (aka distribution). Often we think of Promotion as the only form of marketing, but three other areas can also be tackled. In order to have a strong marketing plan, each area must be addressed. Oftentimes, many techniques in each area are overlooked. Starting with the basics, ensuring thoroughness, is the best way to begin the marketing process. Over the course of several posts, I'll outline specifics for each of the 4 P's. Today I'll start with Product, which is key to consider in the design process, and often glossed over with a sweeping statement, “Make a good product and they will come.” Although it may appear be simple, the devil is in the details.

360iDev Conference: iOS Tech, Design, Business, and Mariachi Bands

Last week I attended 360iDev, an iOS developers conference, in Denver. In my last post I covered all the great things that happened as a result of attending conferences. Not only are they valuable education, but also a indirect marketing benefit. Nearly every person I spoke with at the conference this week agreed that the return on investment, although unmeasurable, easily covers the cost of attending the conference. 360iDev is not only a conference focused on technical sessions for developers, but also runs the gamut of sessions from UI/UX design, to graphics design, to management, to great business-side information from contracting, to marketing, to business models. In this post, I'll go through some of the tips and tricks I picked up from this year's conference.

Making Choices in UI Design: You Can't Please Everyone

Designing an iPhone UI for a productivity app can take many directions and each time you make a choice, someone will not like it, yet others may think it's brilliant. (Of course, you hope the latter are the ones leaving reviews.) Today the landscape in the app store affects how you design your UI—you need to stand out to get noticed. However, the other edge of the sword is that if you go totally radical, people won't have that comfort feeling of familiarity of a iOS app. So the key is to get a balance of familiar, with a dose of 'zazz. Of course, it helps to have some luck of being in the right place at the right time, so someone with influence also sees your app, but this post is going to tackle areas WITHIN your control—the design of the User Interface (UI).

On Sales and Use Tax, Nexus and Affiliates

Discussed this week on twitter was the recent nexus sales tax law passed in California that may affect affiliates who promote products on their websites. Through a series of tweets, I explained why using Linkshare's affiliate program for iOS products is unaffected. That said, I thought sales tax deserved further explanation and would be a good topic for this weeks #idevblogaday post. Sales and use tax can be confusing, so I'll try explain from a layman's perspective.

Pricing Experimentation, a Game We All Must Play

Maximizing revenue on the AppStore is the goal of every developer. Setting the right price and changing it at the right time (increase or sale) is truly an art. Many variables are at play, but if you experiment carefully, you can find the sweet spot for revenue. This sweet spot may surprise you, so it's important to experiment, or you'll miss out on your revenue potential. Of course, when a competitor comes into the mix, you may have to adjust. It's very important to monitor things regularly, so you are not caught unawares. This post will reiterate a few things from a previous post of mine on pricing, and share some of our experiences with iOS price experimentation.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race: the Optimistic Numbers Post

So many sensational articles about iOS development dominate the scene, from the get-rich-quick-we-sold-a-million-copies to the “median paid app earns $682 per year.” However, neither of these two situations are realistic for business planning. While doing taxes and accounting this week, plus monitoring our newly released in-app purchase in Trip Boss travel manager, I was reminded that I've been meaning to write about how it really IS possible to make a living writing iOS apps. Ask yourself: can your business support you? If so, how can you plan for this? I'm not one to “hope,” I want to “make” it happen. All serious businesses should have a plan, rather than “just writing apps and hoping for the best.” This post shares our experiences in sales, in promotions, and lastly our business plan.

IAP: Selling Apps-Within-an-App, a new business model

Our travel manager, Trip Boss, is a comprehensive travel app which posed a unique structure that required an unorthodox solution when bringing it to the iOS mobile market. In order to move Trip Boss to iOS in a way that solves both our customer's needs and makes it feasible, economically, we came up with a new method of selling—Apps-Within-an-App. The app was originally available on the PalmOS platform, which is much different than the iOS platorm. To 'port this software to the new AppStore, we had to consider many things: customers needs, data sharing, development time, and pricing. Otherwise, the app would never have come to fruition on the iOS platform. This post will take you through the history, the thought process, the choices, and the final decision and product.

Trip Boss IAP store screenshot

Trip Boss Evolution – from Palm to iPhone, a behind-the-scenes look at the design process

Recently we released phase 1 of Trip Boss travel manager for iPhone. We've been working towards its release since the AppStore opened 2-1/2 years ago in 2008. Although we released other iOS apps prior to Trip Boss, with each app we learned something new that we could use in Trip Boss. Full time focus on Trip Boss took about 7 months and we expect another 3-4 months to release the remaining phases, or “modules”. In comparison, Trip Boss for the PalmOS, the initial release, took over a year to write. Some of the subsequent additions and enhancements (such as itinerary) took another year each to release. This post will show you some of the history behind Trip Boss' design and some of the insight behind the design decisions for the iOS release.

Trip Boss main screenshot

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