The Post Launch owner and CEO had the pleasure of being a guest on Mobile Presence Radio Show and talked shop on mobile app development, SEO, web presence and content marketing. The Mobile Presence Radio Show, hosted by Shahab Zargari and Peggy Anne Salz, has made a splash in the mobile app development scene since 2009. Listen to the entire episode below or read below for the transcript featuring tips and tricks to help your mobile app and startup development.
Welcome to Mobile Presence. From mobile marketing and messaging to mobile commerce and coupons, and from mobile apps and websites to mobile engagement and loyalty. Our hosts bring on expert guests to give you the inside track on the trends, tools and technology that matter most. Mobile presence, where making your brand or business first is our first priority.
Now here are your hosts, Peggy Anne Salz and Shahab Zargari.
Shahab: Welcome to Mobile Presence, as always, bringing you the experts to help you optimize and maximize your mobile strategy.
I’m Shahab Zargari, award winning filmmaker and executive director of marketing at Higher Ground Creative agency.
Peggy: I’m Peggy Anne Salz, from Mobile Groove, providing custom research and content marketing to the global mobile industry.
So Shahabi, we have a guest that you found. Very interesting first of all from your neck of the woods in Las vegas and also very focused on app development but at a very different level.
Tell me about it.
Shahab: Our guest today is a force to be reckoned with in Vegas. He is so busy doing so many different things, that I was wondering if we could get him on the show. So having him on the show, totally honored. He’s been an entrepreneur and has done all kinds of things in the marketing realm, in the mobile sphere and currently owns and runs Post Launch (which is www.postlaunch.co). So Geoffrey Radcliffe, thank you so much for joining me today.
Geoff: Fantastic, thank you both for having me on. And I appreciate taking the time. This is really a passion play for me. I have a lot of thoughts in the space of how to be the best you can be when it comes to creating mobile app and growing your audience and actually making mobile application or mobile venture into a success.
I’m really excited to talk through some of my ideas.
Shahab: Just to start, tell us a little bit about Post Launch and what brought you to Post Launch. How did you get to where you are today?
Geoff: Absolutely. I started out doing online marketing back in 1999. I was a kid selling sightseeing tours on the internet. And I took a company and we did about $50 thousand selling sightseeing tours online in our first year, and grew it to $26 million annually and then sold it for $40 million dollars back in 2005. So it was a true internet success, it was a fantastic venture for me.
But, I really got a chance to cut my teeth on the marketing side. My degree is in public relations so I always try to apply a digital aspect to traditional PR practices. Getting the word out there is really what it comes down to at the end of the day.
For the previous half decade before starting Post Launch, I was working with a mobile app development firm in Las Vegas. In the five and a half years I was there, we built and launched roughly 150 applications for iPhone, Android, Blackberry and even off brand tablets looking for mobile applications, so it was a really pretty robust and healthy development shop.
The problem was every single one of those applications that we were involved in launching died on the vine. What happened was people came in with great ideas, we sit around, we would plan out what it would take to make it a success. And then as soon as the app launched, people would do nothing with it.
And they would come back to me and say, “Geoff what do we need to do to get success,” and I would say you need to tell people about – you need to tell the world about it.
Shahab: What did success look like to them at that time. Was it user retention or just downloads?
Geoff: So most of the products that we worked on had some revenue plan in the high level business plan. So success was “I want to quit my job and just run this app.” Which is very much a unicorn, right. It’s almost impossible to see that happen anymore.
Peggy: We will get into a lot more of the advice you give your clients, but initially, you thought to yourself what? There has to be more done post-launch and it has to be more tactical and strategic. It has to be well thought out. You can’t just launch, and they will come.
Geoff: Right. And that was the big thing that a lot of people believed. People would say, “All I got to do is put an app in the app store and people will find it and it’s great.” And it might be a really great piece of tech but the reality is the sheer amount of mobile applications that get published, you become part of the noise really quickly.
Peggy: It’s interesting that you mention that because I would like to hear from you a little bit of the advice that you would offer so that people do rise above that noise.
I mean it’s nearing 2,000 a day in the Apple app store alone. It’s huge.
Getting discovered, even getting the download, is no reason to break out the champagne. Because getting a download means that there’s a good chance not far after that you are going to be deleted anyway.
So what do you tell them?
Geoff: It’s such a crowded space that there really is an opportunity to honk your horn, wave your flag, rise above the dim, become a signal out of the noise that people can actually attached to.
To use an analogy, you really need to fish where the fish are. You need to find where people are consuming data about the applications. It’s not a matter of telling your cousin in Missouri to check it out and give feedback. You have to become a broadcast source for your own brand and that’s where the Post Launch mentality comes in.
We sort of live by the theory that you should be spending at least ⅔ of your entire development budget on marketing in the first year after launching your application.
Shahab: So that development money doesn’t just disappear now that the app exists. Keep it going and put it to marketing. So with your clients, can you give us some examples of what that looks like and what you’ve done with your clients to market them?
Geoff: I would love to give you two of them. One was a great success and one was a great failure.
What had happened was one was a mobile application that consolidated events. And we’re not talking about ticket sales, but really sort of public events (farmers markets, soccer tournaments, food festivals, etc) and it went through and consolidated these events and pull them into a single spot. And it did very well. The initial application was probably a development budget of around $150 thousand, it had a pretty robust backend, and the team ended up raising just over $1 million to run this mobile application and get it going.
Unfortunately it had fallen flat in its mission because nobody really cared. No one was interested in paying money to showcase their farmers market or food festival through this single channel because it just didn’t have enough reach.
The application failed because the individuals never took the time to actually identify who their audience was and what it was going to take. They would just say “Let’s just consolidate all these efforts and people are going to swarm to the application.”
The reality was it was never marketed. It was supposed to be a viral growth, and it really fell flat because it didn’t help people in any way that they needed to be helped. They could find out about a farmers market simply by using a search engine. It was disrupting enough to the overall marketplace.
When we had the chance to help market it, everything that came out of that application fell flat because people really didn’t need the product. From a marketing standpoint, we had some big names connected, we had some very influential people, we won some contests. There was a lot of visibility and a lot of downloads, the thing was getting almost 15,000 downloads a week, but there was no way to turn it into a success because there just wasn’t a revenue model attached to it.
Peggy: What was that, then just put it into the bin and just keep going? Chuck it away and think of a different one.
Geoff: As soon as the investment money ran out, they shut down and it’s just sitting on a shelf collecting dust right now.
Peggy: What was the monetization model for that? What did they try to, they tried to get farmers to advertise their farmers market, right?
Geoff: Yes, exactly that was the only model.
Peggy: So it was poorly thought out.
Peggy: So let’s hear a good, positive story here Geoff – one that you can turn around and make work because maybe they put some effort into the product in advance.
Geoff: Right so this was one, and I always talk about this when I’m speaking with someone for the first time about their product –
What is your passion, what are you interested in. The money will follow if there is true passion behind the product.
We worked with one that was a game. This was a game that was developed by a TV celebrity who actually has a real passion for history and quizes and we had the opportunity to work on this.
So what we did, we actually had some celebrity push behind it, which is always nice.
But this one came out as a competitor to Trivia Crack right around the same time that Trivia Crack was gaining in popularity. From a marketing perspective, we could actually ride the coattails of that product.
Anytime people were engaging through social media – through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – going through and saying, “Hey, I’m playing trivia crack” and we would jump in and say “Hey, you should play this game instead.”
We were getting 400 downloads a day on the mobile application through an aggressive social media outreach campaign as well as a public relations campaign that went along with the launch of this mobile application. So the mobile app for every user it targeted approximately $6 a month in in-app purchases.
Shahab: So they were essentially making their money back.
Geoff: Yeah, it worked very well. It grew and grew and grew. And then it happened to be coupled with a television show that was canceled. So the app is still live and out there. It was one that was roughly a $80 thousand investment to build for multiple platforms.
The money was made back entirely in the first 60 days and then everything after that was gravy on top of the application.
This is one that was a true success but it was coupled between a social media engagement campaign with users to get action on the game as well as a traditional PR campaign. Getting articles written in newspapers – which sounds very antiquated to a lot of people in the digital world but there still is a whole lot of people that consume that content. And a lot of people say, “Why do I want to publish to newspapers?” Well, almost every single newspaper has an online presence as well.
Shahab: Definitely. We have to kind of cut in here and go to break. But listeners don’t go anywhere. We have a lot more to talk about. We have Geoffrey Radcliffe with us and don’t go anywhere we will be right back.
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Welcome back to Mobile Presence, only on WebMaster Radio.FM
Shahab: Welcome back to Mobile Presence – I am Shahab Zargari with Higher Ground Creative Agency
Peggy: And I am Peggy Anne Salz with Mobile Groove.
Shahab: And again we have Geoffrey Radcliffe of Post Launch with us today. When we went to break we were talking about one of your successes and things that are done right or incorrectly. But one thing that I want to go back and ask you about is how important is it to get a celebrity or a digital influencer to push a business or brand?
Geoff: It is becoming so paramount that—again—it goes back to the fact where there are so many things happening in our world where it’s so bombarded with information – pushing in on someone else’s audience is actually easier than ever and less expensive than ever.
Years ago if I needed to hire Jon Bon Jovi to talk about my product, I’m gonna pay him several million dollars to come on and produce a television commercial.
Now I can reach out to a YouTube celebrity, an Instagram celebrity, a Twitter celebrity for significant reach to throw my message into their own feed and connect with their audience of millions of people for usually less than a grand.
Peggy: So how do you do that? Would you suggest to app developers and companies, should they go out and negotiate this on their own, should they come to you for that because I have the feeling that YouTubers are understanding slowly what they are worth.
Geoff: Right. There’s a couple different channels. Depending on how much time someone has, they can actually go through and determine an algorithm on their own to determine whether or not somebody has the influence that they’re looking for. Again depending on the time they have, this can take hours and hours of time to get with people. My firm keeps a list of people that we worked with in the past that are keen to take on our content, our messaging and share it out with their own audiences. But there are also agencies now that represent online celebrities. People you may have never heard of, but they will come through and you can pay the agency to broker the deal for you.
Peggy: What do you do Shahab? It’s becoming really important; influencer marketing is just a branch of content marketing that is just one of those ways to get buzz that is low budget but maybe higher ROI. Do your clients ask for this?
Shahab: They don’t ask for it, but we do recommend it. I mean, within the past 6 months alone, major brands have reached out to these YouTube stars to do that. In fact, Vine is essentially an ad agency. Maybe not as far as business plans are concerned. They essentially are that talent agency that Geoff was talking about. They have all their top influences that get a million re-vines or likes a day and then you can go through one of the partner agencies to hire them.
And he’s right, it’s so much cheaper and yet more quantifiable.
Peggy: So where does this figure into the budget Geoff? I mean you said ⅔ of what you put into developing your app you need to put into marketing. How would split that up?
Geoff: I’m gonna throw out my standard answer. Because I’m not in the app development space anymore, I am in the app marketing space. But, because of my history in the app space, at least once a week someone contacts me and says, “I want to talk to you; I’ve got an idea for a mobile app.”
And it happens again and again – and before I’m willing to hear any ideas, I fire back with “Do you have a quarter of a million dollars to spend?”
And if they don’t, I’m not even interested in even continuing the discussion.
And here’s where I go with that – a quarter million dollars will allow you to develop an app for iPhone, Android, tablet and potentially a browser version of your app if needed. Then it should give them a two-year runway to be able to market this thing and have some success.
I sort of live by those numbers. That’s what it takes to build an app business right now. If they don’t have that, I don’t believe that there is a measure of success. Everything has shut down the ability for people to accidentally discover. It’s so hard for things to go viral these days because everybody is monetizing their platforms in the best possible way. And that’s great. Companies are out there to make money, but apps don’t get discovered without a significant spend behind that.
Peggy: What do you think Shahab? Quarter of a million dollars you said Geoff. Shahab, does that sound on the mark? It’s a little depressing for our listeners maybe.
Shahab: I think that’s a little low. I would say quarter of a million for the marketing budget. And then that would maybe not ensure that you are featured on the app store’s main page but at the very least getting your app into the hands of the people that would become loyal users.
But on the other side of things, a lot of startups do one, two, three rounds of fundraising. So go out and fundraise. Go to the shark tank type things and pitch your idea and win some money. And you can raise it.
It’s not that bleak or that difficult. Investors aren’t just giving free money away. They see something in your app or your product and they know that they are going to get a return on your investment. And that’s why they’re giving you money.
Don’t look at it as a bleak thing but look at it as a goal. Alright, we got to get a quarter of a million dollars and then we can talk to Geoff.
So have Shahab’s team design it and have Geoff’s team get those articles and it’s a win-win.
Geoff: I don’t want people to feel depressed. And it really is a commitment issue as well. If there are willing to go out and work to put together that much money, they are intrinsically committed to the success of their product. Even if they don’t spend it all, they’ve taken the first step to show that they really want it to be a success.
Peggy: You mentioned articles last time and this time. And I know this because I do this with my clients. I write articles, I write reports, I’m an author, I’m an analyst.
And then they say hey, “ghostwriting,” and it’s of course yes, that’s what I do with my clients.
And you mentioned newspapers, I just wonder if you have any tips or thoughts around that because there is also a lot of other outlets. There is a possibility to take it on the road yourself, put it on medium, do something interesting, there are different platforms. Do you have a pick of what you suggest with your clients?
Geoff: With us – a lot of our clients come to us and say “what do we do” so we sit down and put together a strategic plan – and it really depends.
I mean we are marketing a mobile app right now that is a Uber for ambulatory care appointments, so if you need to see a doctor right now and you are out of your main home area, you dial this up, and it tells you someone you can go to right this second.
Now that level of application is not necessarily going to resonate with an Instagram celebrity – I can’t have Khloe Kardashian pushing that out every day. But engaging with the medical community, engaging on things like WebMD and Health Check, and all these different medical content distribution sources and say “Hey, here is something that you need,” and with the level of laser targeting that we can get into with target marketing, content marketing, native advertising and even retargeting advertising, we can hit these people when we know that they are out of town and we know that they are ill and we know that they are on Googling doctors in their area, and push the ads right to them in that space.
Peggy: That’s an amazing type of app by the way. Cause you mentioned before to have a good product, these people obviously thought about their users.
Geoff: Yes, and conversely, we are working on another app right now, which I find this one pretty interesting, and we are in an election season here so it is very timely. This individual has invented a mobile application that allows you to see how your personal feelings on every single bill that’s coming through the federal and state congressional level, how you would have voted and how your vote stacks up against current elected officials. Which is pretty good because that information is hard to get to these days.
You have to spend a lot of time researching. But it matches it up for you, it says here is every bill that went in front of the senate this year, how would you vote, and then immediately spits out a score that tells you if you don’t agree with your elected officials.
Shahab: Wow, that is really cool.
Peggy: I like that.
Geoff: And when you consider the power it provides, even to the elected officials, to say “Hey, your constituents don’t agree with you,” it actually helps with a lot of different fronts. So where do we distribute that application? The client says, “Okay team at Post Launch, where do we push this?”
So it needs to go into people who are highly vocal on a political front. Whether or not they turn to social media, blogging, radio shows who wants to get on board and say listen, check out this mobile application, this is something that’s gonna be really pretty powerful in the future to help keep people’s eyes on what matter.
Because I don’t know if you ever tried to read a congressional bill, but we are used to reading things in 140 characters at a time. So sitting down and reading a 50 page bill is really pretty difficult to consume.
Shahab: That’s a good place to take our last break of the episode.
Mobile presence will be back after we connect you to our sponsors.
Welcome back to Mobile Presence, only on WebMasterRadio.FM
Shahab: And we are back. Welcome back to mobile presence. I am Shahab Zargari with Higher Ground Creative Agency
Peggy: and I am Peggy Anne Salz with Mobile Groove.
Shahab: And again we have Geoffrey Radcliffe with us from Post Launch. It’s been an amazing show so far. Usually in this part of the show we have our guests give us the top three tips for our listeners loosely based around what we were talking about today.
One thing, you know when they approach you and you say “do you have a quarter of a million dollars” – and they say no – then come back to me. That is a huge red flag for you to not get involved.
So for our listeners and the entrepreneurs and business owners and app developers that are listening, what are three top tips you could give them on how to know when you can just cut and run.
Geoff: Perfect. So the first thing I would recommend, my very first tip, is to take your nondisclosure and shove it.
If you are making me sign a nondisclosure, this means you haven’t taken the time to show your idea to the people who are going to be your end consumers. So immediately if I’m asked to sign a nondisclosure I am so turned off by the entire experience that I don’t think there is going to be any success with the app whatsoever.
Identifying your audience out of the gate is one of the most important things.
Two, my second tip, would be to iterate and start with a click through prototype and do a focus group. Spend as little money as you can dialing in your idea to something that’s really going to resonate.
And don’t ask your friends – ask strangers. And don’t say that you are the publisher, go in as a true stranger. Find someone on the street, stand in front of a Walmart and pay people $5 to take a look at your prototype. Whatever it takes. Just get 50 or 100 people to look at what you’ve built so you are not going to market with something that isn’t ideal for your end consumers.
And my third piece of advice is, and this resonates with all startups, plan on not making any money in your first two years. If it happens, that’s great, but this has got to be a long-tail venture. There are very few overnight app success anymore where someone makes a million dollars in a week. If this happens to you, God bless you, but the reality is this is hard, you are starting a business, and you need to take the time to realize that these aren’t a hobby business to become a successful mobile app publisher anymore.
Peggy: I just have this big smile on my face here because Geoff, those are some very interesting tips, they are really straight forward. My favorite one has to be – you don’t ask your friends. It’s interesting because that’s the problem. A lot of app developers have, 20% of app developers have the user in mind when they are making their app because they just love it and they hang around with all their friends. And then they ask their friends, do you like this game? And of course all their friends are into it, and they are all geeking out, and it still bombs. I love how you put that together Geoff, I have to say.
Geoff: Great. I say for a $50 investment, you can get a really good focus group of strangers that will hate you and give you solid advice.
Peggy: We all need strangers that hate us, Shahab, that’s the key to success.
Shahab: So was that tip number 2?
Peggy: Well, it’s all of them actually. They all went by, I was laughing over here in the background, all of them great. I’m just curious, we have a few minutes, does anything resonate with you, Shahab. I mean he’s been very blunt.
Shahab: I think it’s all amazing, and even some of it kind of goes back to the 20s and 30s and 50s. You gotta know who you are selling to or your marketing and your product will just fall short and not make you those millions. Whether it takes an over night kind of deal or over the course of time, you know like Angry Birds, they spent tens of millions of dollars before they even made any money.
Peggy: 20 or 25 different iterations of the game, so again, not an overnight success.
Geoff: Right, on that one, that’s a really interesting case. Cause you look at Angry Birds and it’s an okay game, it keeps you engaged. But one of the things I found was really impressive with angry birds marketing is that they didn’t just focus on the app. And I know we didn’t get a chance to talk about this but they started with a mobile app, and then multi platform and then they went browser and then they went merchandise and then they went television show and then they went YouTube and then they went ringtone and then they went branding all over the place. It wasn’t just get me downloads – They really did a nice diversified approach to growing that whole brand.
Shahab: Amazing. It’s definitely been a pleasure having you on. We have come to the end of our show. If our listeners want to reach out to you for help with their brand or apps or just to flesh any of these ideas further, how do they get a hold of you Geoff?
Geoff: They are always welcome to call. I am old-school, I like to talk to people on the phone. My phone number is 702-800-2131 at my office. Set an appointment and we can talk through anything. They can also email me at [email protected] will get to me or they can visit our website, read more about what our firm does, who we are and fill out the contact form.
Shahab: And Peggy, how can the listeners get a hold of you?
Shahab: Listeners you can get a hold of me on Twitter – @Shahabzargari, and you can check out our portfolio and www.HigherGroundCreative.agency.
This interview was brought to you by Mobile Presence Radio Show. Geoffrey Radcliffe, CEO of Post Launch, is available to talk further about any of the ideas mentioned in this interview. Please contact Post Launch at 702-800-2131 to make an appointment with Geoffrey. Learn more about our SEO services.