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Case Study - Providing App Development Solutions to Small Businesses: Part 4

Case Study – Providing App Development Solutions to Small Businesses: Part 4

This is the 4th post in this case study series.  If you’d like a refresher on what I’ve done in previous posts, check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

When we last left off in Part 3, I contacted 100 independent pizzeria owners via email (or their website contact form) and ended up getting only one response from an owner who called me back asking for more information.  Although he seemed somewhat excited about the idea, unfortunately, my awkwardness over the phone ended up costing me the opportunity to make the sale.  (Thanks to your great comments on that post, especially Dima who gave some awesome suggestions on ways to improve).

My 2nd Attempt

Since then I hired the same lady I used the first time (from Elance) to collect the contact information for 200 more independent pizzeria owners for me.  I sent out emails to those 200 owners over the course of 4 days, averaging 50 emails per day.  I did this so that hopefully GMail wouldn’t see it as spam, and also so that I couldn’t just blame the day of the week the emails were sent as a reason for my failure or success.

For 100 of the 200 emails, I sent the original email you can view in Part 3.  For the remaining 100, I tweaked my original email and changed it to this:

Subject: App Development for Your Pizzeria


My name is Thomas Strock and I’m a mobile app developer from Allentown, PA.  I came across your pizzeria and I have a really great idea to help you connect with your customers as well as find new customers through a mobile app!  Attached is a PDF with more information about my idea for you to take a look at.  If you have a few minutes, check it out and let me know what you think!

I’d love to help you out with this project as I’m sure you’ll see the tremendous value of reaching people through a mobile app in today’s business environment.

I look forward to hearing back from you and building a mobile app that will help your business grow and stand out from the competition!  Please feel free to give me a call on my cell phone any time at **My Phone Number**.  I even have a special offer for you if you call me today! 🙂



**My Phone Number**

P.S. – This is not a spam message.  Give me a call and you’ll find out for yourself I’m a real guy simply trying to help local business owners like yourself succeed!

I did this to simply test another variable and see if this new email would give me better results than the old one.  The most drastic change I made was to include the “P.S.” statement reminding them that I’m not a spammer and I am simply trying to HELP them.  Thinking about this with my 20/20 hindsight, I’m not sure if this hurt me more than helped me just because while I was telling them I WASN’T a spammer…for people who didn’t think that in the first place, it might have actually reminded them that I COULD be one.


Here’s the good news:  Out of the 200 emails/contact form messages I sent to the owners, I got a total of 2 responses!  In reality, that’s not so great, but I’ll take what I’m given.  If I can sell even just 1 app from these 200 owners it will be worth it!

Now, here’s the bad news: The responses were all negative.  In case you’re interested, here’s exactly what they replied…

Response 1: “Please take me off your list.”

Response 2: “We already have one. We did not have a need for this.”

I’m Calling It Quits

With any unsuccessful project, there comes a time (sometimes numerous times) when you have to make the tough decision about whether to “pull the plug”, cut your losses, and call it quits.  Today, that’s exactly what I’m doing with this case study and this project.

I know I got a great response from people who were really excited about this project, so I’m sure some of you will be disappointed to hear that.  However, I want to give you some explanation as to WHY I’m not moving forward with this project:

Idea Not Verified by the Market

I am 100% positive that this idea would be MUCH easier to sell to pizzeria owners in person, and that was my original plan from the beginning.  However, if you remember back to Part 1, the reasons for trying to sell via email first were to tweak my sales pitch and most importantly to test the market for this type of product.  I sent 300 emails and only got 3 responses, 2 of which were negative and 1 which I’m not sure what the result could’ve been.  That tells me that there is a good chance that pizzeria owners are not ready to embrace this idea, and therefore don’t want to buy it.

The point is this: Although I could still attempt to sell this idea to pizzeria owners in person (and possibly have more success), it would STILL probably be a hard sell, so why not create a product that the market is actually DEMANDING rather than having to push it upon them?

Spamming Dilemma 

Especially after the response asking me to “take them off my list” I am realizing that while I am trying to provide value to these pizzeria owners…that’s pretty much me sugarcoating the fact that I’m spamming them and trying to sell them something.

I’m calling my own BS here…I’m spamming and I don’t think that’s right.  I wouldn’t want it done to me, so I’m not going to do it to other people.  There’s a fine line when sending an unsolicited email becomes spam, but I’m pretty sure I’ve crossed it – so I’m turning back.

Switching My Focus

Another reason I’m calling it quits on this project is because I’ve been spending my time and energy on this while I feel I should be focusing it more on other app development activities.  In addition, there are a few other case studies I am planning on starting soon here on the blog that I am really excited about and I think you will be too!

A MUCH Better Alternative

Even before I started this case study, I knew there was a related way of developing apps for businesses except with a few MAJOR advantages which make it a lot more appealing.  However, this other technique involves a lot more work and a lot more social skills (especially over the phone), so I took the lazy option and tried this method first.  Now that I’ve failed with this method, I’m looking forward to starting another case study in the near future using the other method and HOPEFULLY getting some much better results! 🙂

Bring on the Failure!

Although I failed in this case study, I’m happy I went through with it because I learned lessons from it that I can apply to my future endeavors.  For that reason, to entrepreneurs, failing isn’t bad – it’s a GOOD thing and you should fail fast and fail often, because the more times you fail, the closer you are to success…

…hopefully I’m a step closer to success with mobile apps now 😉


  1. I’m really surprised you got such a negative response. I’ve written on similar topics (though never tried it myself), and always thought this would be the best way to make money with apps. I mean, everyone develops apps these days, but what a great way to provide value to local business.

    Plus, it’s great for you because you basically have one app format, and can customize it for logos etc based on the individual business.

    I actually cringed when you I read, “Please take me off your list”. Ouch!

    Good to see you have a positive outlook. I still believe making local apps for businesses is a good route to make money, but obviously you’ll need to tweak the technique a bit.

    Perhaps you could try building the app first, including customization for a single business, so they can see the finished product? I think a lot of business owner are still stuck in the 90’s, and don’t really get the advantages of having a mobile app.

    • Thanks for the comment Roderick! Yeah, I was a bit surprised too. It does make some sense though – small business owners probably get pitched left and right for things such as website design, SEO, etc. by some “shady” marketers, so they misinterpret what I’m doing as the same thing. I agree that there is money to be made here still, and I’m definitely going to explore it again in the future in a smarter way. Having a working example would definitely help, but part of the goal was I wanted to prove that ANYONE can get started doing this – even if they don’t have money to invest up-front…and while it may be harder, I still think it’s possible…if done in a smarter way like (hopefully) I’ll be doing soon!

  2. Insightful post. Failure is just another start of greater opportunities.

    Thanks for sharing this case study

    • Exactly right – even though it didn’t make money, I at least learned some free lessons from this case study!

  3. Like I said in Part 1, if you could be willing to do the job for free for the nearest pizzeria, then it could help you with other prospects.
    Secondly it has to add some value to their topline or bottomline within the trial time, else…
    I wish I could help further. But nice shot and try…keep ur momentum going…

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