Does your business need an app?

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I keep hearing this question. Well, actually it’s more like, “Does my business need an app?” but you get the idea.

The answer is, of course; it depends! It depends on whether your business has a brand. (Yes. There are many companies with almost no brand and some make quite a lot of money.) Apps are brand tools. They facilitate your brand experience on a mobile device. That brand experience, can be just about anything and requires that you understand

  1. How your brand is perceived. (I say perceived because, as a business you are at best co-owner of your brand. I’ve talked about this in older posts, with social media as being the main reason for this co-ownership. People don’t trust companies but they trust the opinions of peers when it comes to brands.) Also, brand does not necessarily mean big brand. Beau Jo’s has been a mainstay for people who live in Colorado (and South Dakota) since 1973 and yet you’d be hard pressed to find a person outside of those two states that knows about them. Local brands are just as important as big brands and in fact, over the coming years, may become more important as hyper-localism takes hold.
  2. How much brand depth you have. The goal of brand depth is to have as deep a relationship as you can with your customers, instead of having loose connections with as many as possible, with no real sustainable relationship. In other words, I want 200,000 passionate fans that I can monetize in numerous ways (advertising, subscription, purchases, etc) instead of 1,000,000 passive fans that I throw ads at in the hopes that they come and click thru. (Think niche.) There are many ways to build brand depth, depending upon your business model. Zappos’ brand is all about customer service, while Apple is all about the experience of owning one of their devices. Other companies have excellent sales experiences and some have chosen to focus on the lifestyle that their brand is associated with. The point is to know where your brand’s touch points before you create an app.

So, if you have a brand and recognize where your the deepest parts of your brand are, an app is for you. How you monetize your app is dependent upon your business model an there are many ways such as advertising, subscription, in-app purchases, price of app.

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I'm an Associate Teaching Professor of Digital Marketing at the Daniels College of Business, University of Denver. I also consult with startups and established brands. I'm currently focused on artificial intelligence, cognitive neuroscience and culture. I am married to an amazing woman and have two incredible children. I was raised in Colorado and spend my free time with family, biking, snowboarding and going to the Pacific Ocean to SCUBA dive and/or surf. I'm passionate about architecture, design, street art, photography and the art that tattooing has evolved into.

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