Week 4- If you build it, they will come… right?

Just after I’d signed the contracts with the app development company to actually start the build of my mobile app, I started to panic. I wondered what the app would look like? Would it work? And would people buy it? I felt like I’d just jumped out of a plane and was waiting for my parachute to inflate. I really needed some reassurance. Now like I said before, I’m a project manager (read: control freak)… I figured that if I managed (cough, control) things, things would work out the way I wanted them to. So naturally it was a little hard to let go of this and trust someone else to do it, especially because I didn’t even have the faintest idea about creating apps. Thankfully, reassurance came in the form of progress reports from the development company.

A few days after signing the contract I got the first lot of screen layouts for both the phone and tablet versions. This was because before any bit of code was written, we needed to agree on the design and what the app would visually look like.

To get the outcomes you want you need to give your teams at least some direction. Even if it’s a drawing on a napkin!

I really liked the phone version but not tablet version, and that was my fault. Whilst I drew up napkin-type sketches of what I envisioned the phone version to look like, I didn’t give the team any direction on the tablet version and I let them figure it out for themselves. So after looking at a few other tablet apps, I drew up some sketches of what I envisioned the tablet version to look like. Within days I got an updated version and I liked what I saw. I felt like my parachute was starting to inflate. With screen-layouts designed for both the phone and tablet versions of the app, it was over to the programmers to start on the coding, and the development team told me, “not to expect anything more for some time.”

Hold on, what the heck do you mean, “not to expect anything more for some time”? Well, it turned out that until the code was fully written, I wasn’t going to be able to see much. I knew what the app would look like and now I had to wait until all the code was written to see if it would work. Talk about trust!

But then I still had a problem. Would people buy it? If you’ve ever seen Field of Dreams with Kevin Costner, you’ll remember how the farmer built a baseball field in the middle of his field.  Kevin’s character kept hearing, “If you build it, he will come”. But that’s not always the case, is it? I needed some help to market and sell the app.

Marketing is like a microwave…

Marketing to me is very much like a microwave. I have a very small understanding of how it works, but I know it does work when used properly, so why not give it a go. Marketing and advertising was going to be my insurance policy to help generate app sales. But instead of shopping around for marketing companies, I went with someone that I knew pretty well – my partner’s company! I was trusting my baby, with her baby. And like that, I felt like I was fully supported – I had a great team of developers busily creating the app and now I had a marketing team that would help me promote and sell the app.

Now I’m on to my next challenge – what should I call my app?

Getting Started Tips

  • Leadership and Direction – to get the outcomes that you want you need to give your teams some direction. In my case, I gave the development team ideas on what I wanted the app to look like. They liked this because it meant they had something to work with. Do your own research and also be clear on what you like and what you don’t like. After all, this is your project.
  • Communication – make sure everyone is on the same page. At all times. Being a control freak I like to be ‘kept in the loop’. However, this is my own expectation and it may not work for everyone. The development team gives me a weekly update which is perfect. I see what the marketing team are up to on a daily basis, so there is no need for them to check in with me. We’re also going meet face-to-face every second week. Again this arrangement seems to work.
  • Risk Management – identify and manage risk before they happen. That’s why I did the survey to manage the risk of whether people wanted the app and have now engaged a marketing team to manage the risk of getting the word out there.
  • Marketing – I’m no electrician, so I’m not going to do any electrical work in my own house. Same goes for marketing… whilst I’m learning about it, I’ll trust proven professionals to help me out. Remember, just because you build it doesn’t mean they will actually come. And you don’t need to spend lots of money, but you do need to be prepared to invest in marketing. Don’t leave anything to chance; so make sure you do not miss this vital step.
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