Way back in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, small business advertising reflected the technology that was available at the time. The phone book was in 100% of homes, so it was a no brainer that they had to advertise where their customers were looking.
Now let’s fast forward to the 90’s and the age of desktop computers. As a higher percentage of households bought a computer, local businesses reacted to this trend by investing in a web site. Some business owners even went so far as to buy advertising online.
Fast forward again to 2007. Apple comes to the party with a game changer. Mobile Phones are now just as powerful as computers and everybody you know has one. Why do you own one? Did you ever think about the reasons? There are a plethora of reasons why, but let’s start with the main reasons that pertain directly with local business.
The first reason for the success of the mobile computing phenomenon is convenience. Everything they used to be able to do at home at their desktop just went mobile. So if they want the phone number to call a business they just open up a browser. Same goes for directions.
Now let’s discuss the smartphone. I don’t think anyone will dispute the advantage it holds over the flip phones we used to carry. It can do amazing things. In fact, I didn’t want to list them because my article could become dated in the near future, but I digress.
The functionality of which I speak can be very different from one local business to the next. For example, the ability to share info regarding your restaurant on social media is more important than the ability to set appointments. A children’s Dentist might want a game in their app. The local HVAC guy might want his app to have a feature to match the size of heater/ac to square feet of the home. Whatever the reason let’s just say there is some feature that if used on the smartphone can make it easier to do business. Some business owners just want an app because an app stays loaded on the phone and is much easier to access than the average site. No browser required.
So if you’re still reading maybe you’re curiosity is piqued. The next main issue to small business is cost. You’ve heard a wide range of costs and you way not even know what level of app you should start with. As with any advertising, the price is always relative. You have to weigh certain options in your decision making process. With apps it has been difficult to market effectively to local business. This is because it does not fit into a one size fits all model. As you could see by the examples previously given, the best solutions are often tailored somewhat to the business. One piece of advice I have is to start small. What I mean by that is pick one feature or functionality that’s important to you and test your market. Is your app for current clients i.e. meant to keep them loyal, or are you more interested in getting the message out there that you have this app and your competitors do not. Also, how important are the younger clients to you? By this I mean under 50 years old! Ok, that’s a bit of a stretch but you see what I mean. The average age of mobile-first clients is growing.
So you can start small, see some success, then invest in some additional features. Keep in mind that with this type of marketing you need to become somewhat familiar with social media to help get the word out. Think about it this way, apps do a really good job of building client loyalty and they dovetail nicely with Facebook/Instagram because it is the best place to get more referrals.
You can also choose to use Google AdWords in a new exciting way. Just think, would you rather get a click and a visit to a website or a click and a download of your app? That’s why “Apps are the New Website”.
- Chris Hodgens