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Case Study – Providing App Development Solutions to Small Businesses: Part 2

In Part 1 of this case study, I gave an overview of my idea to sell app development solutions to small businesses, specifically independent pizzerias in my case.  Based on the feedback I’ve received in the comments section it sounds like a lot of people are interested in following along and maybe trying this out for themselves!  I’m super excited about this as I think this could be a great way to help fund your app ideas without  breaking the bank!

As of right now I picture this case study having four “phases”.  The phases are the following:

1) Planning (DONE!)

2) Preparing

3) Selling

4) Developing

We covered my plans in Part 1 so in Part 2 I want to dive into what I’ve been doing to prepare for selling my app development solution to business owners.

Create Mockups

The first thing that I decided to do was to create mockups for the app.  Essentially mockups are basic drawings of what the different screens of the app are going to look like.  Some people make really basic mockups and draw them with pencil and paper, however I like to make my mockups more realistic so I spend more time on them and design them using Pages for Mac.

I don’t only do this for my own benefit though.  Since I’m going to wait to develop the app until I have my first order (so I don’t use any of my own money to fund it) I don’t have a physical app to show to business owners when I’m explaining to them how it will work.  This is quite a disadvantage.  So in order to make up for that I am making my mockups as realistic as possible so that business owners can really picture how the final app will look and feel in their minds.

So with that being said, I want to give you a quick tutorial of how I make my mockups using Pages for Mac.  I know a lot of you probably aren’t Mac users, but Pages is essentially Apple’s version of Microsoft Word, so you may be able to do what I’m doing with that instead.  (I apologize in advance for the few audio glitches in the beginning).

Create a Sales Packet

The next thing that I did was I created a basic sales packet that I could use when either talking to pizzeria owners in person or emailing them.  I wanted to make it informative, persuasive, as well as short and to the point.  Business owners are busy people so if my sales packet is too long, they may end up not reading it altogether.

Each page of the sales packet has a goal that I am trying to accomplish.  To view each page of the sales packet, click on the small image to enlarge it.

The first page is obviously going to be the first page that the pizzeria owner will read.  So before I even get into talking about the details of the app, I want to grab the owner’s attention and let him know up front how it benefits him.  I’m sure every business owner would think it’s cool to have their own app, but it really comes down to “how will this app help my business?” and I try to make that as clear as possible in the first page.

The second and third pages are the app mockups and descriptions of each screen.  The first and most important goal here is to explain the idea to the owner as clearly as possible.  The last thing I want is to have them order the app, have it built, and for it to be nothing like what they were imagining it would be!  Another goal I’m trying to accomplish with this page is to make the owner really feel like the app is front of them by putting the mockups on an actual graphic of an iPhone.

The goal of the fourth page is to show the owner that this idea can and will help their business.  I do this by using the Domino’s Pizza app as an example.  The Domino’s Pizza app is similar to the app I would be developing for them and based on the 81,000 5 star reviews, they can tell that customers definitely use and like the app.  In addition I selected and took screenshots of a few specific reviews that I felt made my point the best.  Finally, the last goal of this page was to explain to the owner that this idea could work on a national scale, so why wouldn’t it work on a local scale for them?

Finally the goal of the fifth page is to obviously get the owner to call me to discuss the idea further if I’m not already talking to him in person.  Although this is the most simple page in the packet, I incorporated quite a few interesting tactics.  I want you to notice a few things about how I phrased it:

  • Instead of saying “To place an order please call:” I said “For more information or to request pricing, please call:”.  This encourages business owners to call me even if they’re only slightly interested.  That way I get the chance to sell it to them over the phone which is much easier than selling via a sales packet.  If I phrased it the first way, only owners 100% certain they want to order would call me thus limiting my potential sales.
  • I didn’t include a price…anywhere.  The price I am planning on charging is $800 which is in reality really cheap to develop an app.  The problem is that most business owners don’t know that.  They have no clue what a fair price is for app development so they might feel that $800 is really expensive and not call me.  However, I try to force them to call me or talk to me in person when I tell them the price.  That way, I can explain to them better why it is a fair price and actually probably a bit too low!  I have a feeling by me explaining it to them personally it will “soften the blow”.
  • I didn’t include my email address.  Most people probably would but I chose not to because it’s a lot harder to sell via email than via phone.  With email, people can just ignore your messages and not respond.  When you’re on the phone with someone they have no “escape” and have to give you a solid “yes” or “no” answer.  It’s not that I want to pressure anyone – I don’t want to have to waste my time following up repeatedly with people who’ve emailed me but aren’t really interested.

Create a Contact List

I’ve decided that before I approach my local pizzeria owners that sort of know me, I want to make sure I’ve “practiced” my sales pitch and have answers to any questions that they may ask me.  So before I talk to them I am going to try and sell to pizzeria owners in other parts of the country via email.  I know that if I can accomplish this, local sales will be easy!

So the plan is to email at least 100-200 pizzeria owners with a short email and the sales packet attached as a PDF.

In order to save me some time finding pizzeria websites and looking up email addresses, I am outsourcing this on Elance where someone will collect information about independent pizzerias in Maryland (a random state I chose) including:

  • Name of Company
  • Owner Name (if included on the website)
  • Email Address
  • Phone Number
  • Website URL

I’m getting all this done for me for just $20.  And while you may be wondering what kind of sucker would spend the time to collect all that information for just $20, get this – over 40 people submitted proposals to do this job for me!  That’s the power of Elance for you!

Plans Going Forward

I just hired the person to collect the data for me today so it will be 1-2 days before that is complete.  In the meantime though, I am going to post a job on Elance to create this type of app.  In Part 1 of the case study I mentioned that I had a developer already who I was confident in that quoted me $400 for the app to be developed.  However, this developer who I was “so confident” in essentially disappeared off the face of the earth and has been unresponsive for no reason.  It’s a shame too because he was really good and he would’ve gotten a lot of jobs from me.  But this goes to show that you always need to be prepared for curveballs as an entrepreneur.

So as a result I’ll post a job on Elance and while I won’t hire anyone until after I get an order, it will at least give me an idea of around how much this will cost me to develop, so I can adjust my price accordingly.

I want to hear from you in the comments section – let me know what you think of what I’ve done so far and my plans for the future.  Any suggestions?  I’m excited about getting started with the selling phase and seeing how this will play out!  Whether this is a massive success or a massive failure I’m sure we’re all going to learn a lot from it!

Recap

If you missed the first post in this series, here it is:

Part 1

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Comments

  1. Hey Thomas, just recently started following your blog. Good job on this step-by-step process, especially your thoughts behind it.

    Just wanted to comment on a couple of things:

    - Your idea for using the first page to describe the benefits of the app is spot on. However, I would strongly suggest that you give some thought to your layout. In particular – it looks way too crowded with too much text. I am sure it is all good stuff, but as much as I am interested in following your progress with this idea, I did not read a single word on that page. Why? Because it just scared me with too much text (“Great, now I’m gonna have to spend a few minutes on something I am not even sure about”).

    I am no marketing wiz, but with my previous job, I often found myself making presentations to senior executives and quickly learned that a few bullet points that highlight the features work much better to get someone’s attention than trying to lay everything out at once.

    So, I would suggest for the first page to try to better summarize what you have on there and include a picture of the app! Nothing turns off people more than just a wall of text (hence the same rule applies for powerpoints, blog posts, magazine articles, etc).

    - Just a thought about bring up Domino’s app – I think it is a great idea to show that the “Big guys” are enjoying the success with that. However, my immediate thought was why not just go to the developer of that app since they obviously made a good one.

    I think mentioning it does help your case, however, somehow somewhere you might want to pre-emptively address that thought. Maybe something along the lines of “by working with the local developer (you) you can ensure personal(ized) user experience, quick turnarond, cheaper (however you want to phrase that) and so on.

    - Very nice job with the mockups page as well as the thoughts on how to improve response rate with clever phrasing on the last page.

    Looking forward to Part 3!

    • Hey Dima, thanks for your comment! Taking a look back at my sales packet, I think you’re absolutely right about the first page of the packet. I’m going to take a look at the front page again and try to consolidate it so there is a lot more “white space” so it’s less intimidating. Thanks for pointing that out!

      As for what you bring up with the Domino’s app, I don’t think too many people will think that way. The developers of the Domino’s app I can guarantee would charge thousands more than what I’m charging. And while I’m not 100% sure, I think most people would understand that simply because Domino’s is a huge company and can afford that. I think by addressing that issue, I may convince a few people, but I might add one extra thing to think about to a dozen more. So overall I think it’s better not to include that.

      Thanks again for the really detailed and awesome comment! Really appreciate your advice, opinions, and support!

  2. Hey Thomas, First of all I to want appreciate you about your business skills and especially in this young age. I really like the phase where you have decided to create realistic mockups rather than just drawing them with pencil and paper and I also agree with dima about too much content thing. Reducing text amount and representing the content in an attractive manner will definitely help your business solution, haven’t got chance to read your part 1 but surely waiting to read your next part.

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