If you've got a smart phone whether iPhone or Android you no doubt have got it loaded up with apps of one kind or another. Angry Birds and other fun and free game apps are enormously popular, but you probably also have apps from businesses such as Netflix, Redbox, eBay and many others. Have you ever considered launching a mobile application to promote your small business brand? If you haven't, you should. Many of your competitors have a mobile App already. They just are not going to knock on your door and let you know that a mobile App is increasingly gluing a customer to rely on their business for a particular service.
Apps fit broadly into a few categories. Mobile Apps are used for entertainment, information, shopping and to increase efficiency for things we all do on a regular basis.
Entertainment apps run the gamut from Angry Birds and iTunes to Netflix so you can amuse yourself using your mobile phone.
Information apps include those that provide data on air, taxi, train and bus travel, wiki reference sites, hotel info, news sites and the like.
Shopping apps include eBay, Amazon, Red Laser and many, many more.
Utilization apps to increase efficiency are those like Google Translate, Dragon Dictation, iTorch (flashlight) and iHandy Level.
A creative idea that relates to your business that people will enjoy using for one of the above reasons will increase loyalty with your current customers and attract new customers.
Once you have some ideas, you may want to bounce the concept off a few people you trust. Get some feedback to see if your idea sounds interesting to them.
Here are some ideas to consider: If you own a bar, you could offer a signature cocktail designer where people can mix a virtual drink via the App, name it and submit it to your bar for a chance to be a featured cocktail. Offering incentives through the App for people to participate like half off coupons to judge at a tasting party draws a big crowd on a night that usually is slow. For semifinalists and winner of the competition, offer to post their pictures on the App photo gallery and watch people share the App photos.
If you own or manage a movie theater, you could offer a make a movie trailer app that would allow people to upload video they shoot and add sound and voice over effects to make their own fun movie trailers. Let people vote via the App. You can offer ongoing incentives for the best trailers each month in the form of a movie pack for two (tickets, drinks, popcorn and candy) and discounts for participants. Offer to show the winning video as a short warm up before a movie on a slow night and watch the people come to see who won.
If you own a gym, you could offer a virtual personal trainer that would allow consumers to enter their measurements, height and weight as well as interests and limitations and generate a training program that correlates to equipment in your specific gym. Offering a free trial to your gym via the App with additional information on workout programs will gain new customers.
If you own a business, anything that ties into the theme of your establishment and is engaging and fun for the consumer will work well. Tshirt contests, artistic photos, humorous stories, photos, naming an item, videos, highest score contest, favorite menu item, educational and historical information all bring good engaging interaction opportunities.
To promote your app, announce the launch via text message marketing to a customer opt-in list. Marketing materials such as flyers, in-store signage, stickers attached to packaging or products and reminders from sales associates can trigger downloads and optins. Incentives such as discounts, coupons and 2 for 1 specials tied to the download also work great.
Mobile app downloads and usage are on the rise according to a recent study by Juniper Research. The firm estimates that by 2016, 65 billion mobile apps will be downloaded compared to 31 billion downloaded in 2011. 87% of these are free downloads. Windsor Holden, who prepared the report for Juniper Research said, Businesses that wish to remain competitive have turned to apps as part of an integrated multichannel distribution system.