LY Podcast: Ep 9 – The Ins and Outs of Creating an App with Ginger Winters – Launch Yourself

Ginger Winters from RambleRamble is featured in this episode. Ginger shares her corporate world marketing experience launching multiple apps – everything from how to determine how an app should be positioned to marketing with the big boys, and everything in between.

Ginger shares her story of her almost failed first app launch – well, failed until it had to go back to the drawing board after one year of hard work, to be able to successfully launch several apps at once. Pondering doing an app to increase your business visibility or revenue? Take a listen first…

 

TOPICS DISCUSSED INCLUDE:

  • Determining the purpose of an app
  • Push notifications
  • The timeframe of creating an app
  • Best lessons learned when creating an app
  • Pricing structure
  • Long-tail or the immediate sale
  • How do you market an app
  • Minimum entry spending dollars to advertise BIG
  • What are you providing to the end-user?

RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

Want to get in touch with Ginger?

 

MORE ABOUT GINGER WINTERS

Ginger is a book marketing pro by day and a blogger by night. She rambles about figuring out who she is as a woman, mom, wife, and career lady at RambleRamble, a place she calls a little introspective, a little quirky, and a lot of rambling. Oh, and she spends ENTIRELY too much time on Twitter @rambleginger.

 

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Melissa Anzman (00:00): This is a launch yourself podcast with Melissa Anzman episode number 9, featuring ginger winters.

Melissa Anzman (00:07): Hello, hello, and welcome to the launch yourself podcast, career, business, and brand advice to help you be seen, make an impact and deliver at your maximum potential. And now here's your host, Melissa Anzman.

Melissa Anzman (00:25): Welcome to the launch yourself podcast. I'm your host, Melissa Anzman today. We are going to be chatting with ginger winters. Ginger is a book marketing pro by day and a blogger by night. She rambles about figuring out who she is as a woman, mom, wife, and career lady over at ramble, ramble.com, a place she calls a little introspective, a little quirky and a lot of rambling. Oh. And she spends entirely too much time on Twitter @rambleGinger. Ginger is a very good friend of mine. We've been friends back from the book marketing days in New York, and I'm so pleased to have her on the show to share her marketing genius in the world of apps.

Melissa Anzman (01:05): Hey ginger, welcome to the launch yourself podcast. Hey Melissa. Thanks for having me so happy to have you here. You have so many launches that you can talk about both in your personal life and your professional life. And so what I thought would be great today is that we talk about professional life ones in particular, and here at launch yourself, we define the launch itself as a specific point in time, when you purposely decide to take action, fulfill your maximum potential in your career, business or brand. So with that in mind which professional launch would you like to talk us through today? Well, they actually all kind of roll together because what I'd like to talk about is the app launches that I've been a part of. And the reason I say they all roll together is because it's been a real learning experience over the course of I've launched four so far and everyone has been a learning experience on top of the previous one.

Ginger Winters (02:05): And so trying to break out one from that experience is kind of tough and it's easier to kind of talk about them as a, as a whole entity and, you know, talk through the, what launching that looks like. So that, I think that's what I'd like to do. Awesome. That's so great. I mean, I am app app verse as you know I'm full blown up PC and not that PCs don't have that like they do, and I try using them, but I I'm like such an old school desktop person that apps to me are like a waste of money in my opinion for entrepreneurs, but they're so not. And there's so many cool apps out there that can do a lot of stuff. I'm trying to get better. I'm trying not to be judgy about the app situation. But what I find really interesting

Melissa Anzman (03:00): About what you are going to talk about today and your experience with apps is you had what many people don't have when they're doing their own apps. You had a budget, you had branding things to consider. You had specific goals for the app were apps I should say plural. And so I think your experience really takes the everyday users experience and multiplies it in ways that you know, you and I alone couldn't recreate. So with that if you just want to talk through the reasoning behind the creation of the app or the need that was there to start the app process going, that would be great. Sure. When we first started talking about apps, it was a few years ago. And the first app that we were on in my company, we really approached it from a branding standpoint. It, it wasn't meant to be a revenue driver which I think is something that's really important for people to understand is that sometimes, sometimes revenue is not the best way to think of an app.

Ginger Winters (04:12): And so for us, it was really a matter of, we need to be in this space, have a presence here and have a branding presence here. The first app that we did we did several years ago and we really did it from a branding perspective. It was, it was a marketing tool and it was a way for us to be in the space, be in the digital space and provide content to our fans where they lived. You know, we're always trying to go to where our fans are go, where they live. The first app that we did was not meant to be a revenue driver. And I think that's a really important thing. You know, if you're thinking about doing an app, I think you need to really pay attention to what your end goal is so that you can make sure you're setting yourself up for success. And, and by going into that first one, knowing we weren't going to we weren't really planning on making our investment money back. We were trying to be there from a marketing perspective and approaching it that way, made it much easier to make it a successful program.

Ginger Winters (05:25): Gotcha. So using, using the resources, essentially, it was part of the marketing plan, not a let sort of create new income and revenue and tap into new markets. It's, let's reach the people who are already fans of ours. Exactly. And one of the things that was a really big driver for, for us with that particular app was the idea behind push notifications. The idea that we could manually push ourselves to the front of our mind by providing them with something that they wanted, right. Admittedly, but we were able to put ourselves in their hands on a daily basis. That's a really incredible opportunity, you know, and that's, that's one of the things push notifications for apps, or can be one of the best reasons to have an app if you have the right kind of app that would make that worthwhile. So that was really important for us.

Ginger Winters (06:30): It was really allowing us to get in the hands of our fans and, and put ourselves in their mind on a daily basis, as opposed to just, you know, a lot of our fans were people who bought our product once a year or twice a year. This put them, put us with them every day. And that's huge. Absolutely. And so, you know, with that lofty goal and, and capability really of doing push, how long did it take the process from idea to having a fully functional app working? How long was that entire thing soup to nuts for that first app? Oh, that first app was filled with learning experiences. Nice and bumpy. I would say that that first app from from idea to final execution took two years now. That's a really long time. And the reason it took so long comes down to, we didn't do it right the first time and had to redo it.

Ginger Winters (07:42): And you know, like I said, it was full of learning experiences. But in the end we were able to, you know, over the course of those two years, we were able to learn a lot about everything from the development process, to the marketing process, to even the basic tech behind how the push notifications were working and privacy policies and a bunch of those things that, you know, when you first go into an app, especially when you think of it as a marketing tool, you go into it and it's this big lofty idea. And you don't necessarily sit down and think about all the little details. And that first one, it took a while for us to learn all those little details and, and there were some growing pains for sure. But in the end, I was pretty happy with what we were able to put out in the end, given where we had started in particular and what our resources were. So, you know, I think that we learned a lot in that process and the next steps did not take two years. So with, with that, if you could give

Melissa Anzman (08:56): Maybe an average timeframe of, of the, the other, is it two others or three other apps

Ginger Winters (09:01): There after that currently I have three other apps that are out on the market. And those took those three. We did simultaneously. So they were all being done at the same time and they were all being worked on with the same developer, which that slowed us down for sure. And they were definitely more technologically advanced than the first ones we had done. The, the second group, the three had a bunch of animations and they had voice work. And so there were a lot of moving pieces that hadn't been involved in the first one, but the second group from start to finish probably took us about nine months to a year. And some of that was actually a fair chunk of that in the beginning was contract negotiations with our vendors with there were a lot of moving pieces. So when, from the point that we actually started the actual development to the point that they came out, I think that was closer to about seven or eight months.

Melissa Anzman (10:13): Wow. So, I mean, for me, I'm a being a launcher, right. I like to have an idea turn around and watch it super fast. I'm super fast, super intense. I mean, you, you always joke with me, like really, again, you just do that. But how do you stay connected with a project that takes so much time from idea to, you know, from idea conception through actual reality? How does, how does that process work? Is it daily? Is it something that you just sort of hand off and partner with someone who's really good at it? Like what would you,

Ginger Winters (10:56): You're learning speed from that? Well, there's a couple of things I, I would say. And we have learned this in our own company. My company has 12 additional apps that are all supposed to come out in the next six months.

Melissa Anzman (11:11): Oh my God. I know I'm having like

Ginger Winters (11:14): Minor heart palpitations, just thinking about it. It's a lot of products. But we have learned a lot over, over the course of doing these apps. And there's a colic heating that I would say is one, you really need to work with people that you work well with. The first app that we did, or the reason it took so long is because the first developer we worked with wasn't really a developer. It was somebody who had contracted out the job and was kind of muddling his way through. And we had to do a lot of handholding with that. And the second developer that we worked with on that same app, when we, when we basically had to go in and sort of fix some of the problems that were created the first time around that person knew what they were doing, we were on the same page.

Ginger Winters (12:10): We had the same language, we were able to connect really well. And so the process became much smoother when we were working with somebody who was on the same page as us and who spoke the language we were trying to speak. I think one of the things that's key is yes, web development and software development let's say are not necessarily the exact same as app development. And, and just because somebody has those technical skills on one side doesn't necessarily mean they know the ins and outs of how to do an app and finding somebody who really knows those ins and outs. That's a huge component of making that process smoother helps keep you all on the same page and moving along at a nice clip when that's happening. And that's sort of what we've had happen. This, this last go round, you don't have to have sort of the daily check ins.

Ginger Winters (13:13): And, you know, the first drops that we did were very much a handholding exercise. They ate up a lot of my time, a lot of my team's time, because we were all kind of muddling through and trying to pull our vendors along with us. And, and it was a difficult relationship. And it was a difficult project. When you get on in a place where you're on the same page with, with your vendor, with your developer in particular, you don't have to have those daily check in sessions. You can kind of say, okay, these are, these are our checkpoints. And these are the places where we're going to check in and we're gonna, we're gonna make sure we're on the same page and that we're on the same calendar and those sorts of things. And in that world, when you have that kind of relationship, things move much quicker and they go much smoother.

Ginger Winters (14:04): And it keeps you much more excited about the potential that the app has. You know, when you get buried under the nitty gritty, it can be hard sometimes to keep track of why you're doing this in the first place and what the potential is. And not just be like, I just want to rip my hair out. This project is, you know, killing me. So I think that I really think that partnering with people who you work well with and who are on the same page as you, and who speak the same language as you, even if, even if you don't have technology, there's a way to have the same language when you're talking about some of this stuff. It makes the process much smoother and it makes it go much faster, go much cleaner and have everybody be much more engaged in the project.

Melissa Anzman (14:58): Yeah. I mean, I think that's a great, great piece of recommendation. And for the record, I don't know how a web designer could think that they could do an app just from personal experience, but neither here nor there, I am not doing an app for anyone. Who's going to ask that question in the notes. Thank you. All that being said, so your first app was non-revenue generating as a goal, did it, what did you provide it for free?

Ginger Winters (15:24): We did not provide it for free. Okay. We, the first app we put out, we put out for 99 cents. And we put it out at 99 cents. Not because we thought we were going to make this big chunk of revenue. We did that for two reasons. One it's, it's what the market looked like at the time and what the competition in that space look like at the time. And we did want to try and recoup some of our costs. If we like, we, when we looked at the, at the project on, on the balance sheet, we never looked at it and said, okay, we need, you know, we're going to make this amount of money and we're going to totally recoup our costs. And then we're going to have revenue. And, you know, we didn't do that, but we were like, you know, if we can make a couple thousand of our expenses back that wouldn't be too bad. So you know, it, we didn't do it for free. Now. I might do it differently because the market has changed a little bit from when we did that first one. But I actually think that we provide enough content in that particular app, that 99 cents. Isn't, it's not a terrible price

Melissa Anzman (16:32): For what? Yeah, no, I, and I think that's, you know, smart, you look at what your competitors are doing, what the market will hold and, and make the decision. And so it wasn't free. So you didn't lose everything. Even, even sort of going out in that way. Now, your other apps, have they had the same goal in mind of being in the hands, getting marketing out there, or have any of them been revenue generating focused?

Ginger Winters (16:58): Then the rest of the apps are all revenue generating focused and it completely changes the way that you look at them. And it, it made it more difficult in a lot of ways, because especially because I'm working from inside a corporate structure, so I didn't have the freedom to sort of play with things the way that I personally would have played with them. There were bigger forces than me who were saying, okay, you know, this is what these are costing. This is what you need to make this quarter to make up for that expense. And the pricing sort of fell alongside that. And, and that's actually one of the things that we learned with these apps, which is these were meant to be revenue generating and they are revenue generating, but you pricing your apps based on the revenue you need to make doesn't necessarily work.

Ginger Winters (18:02): You really need to be pricing within the marketplace and, you know, to sort of break it down so that people have an idea of what I'm talking about here. We were in a marketplace that is primarily freemium or up to 99 cents. That's kind of what's the top, unless you're a super big name, super big brand, which we did not have that kind of budget. When we launched those first three apps, they were 3.99. Oh, wow. Yeah. And so 300% or more above the competition. Yeah. And, you know, we have sales, but the volume of sales was significantly less than if we had launched within our, within the marketplaces competition. And we rectified that over time when we saw, you know, the trajectories and what things we're doing. And when we lowered the price point to be more in line with the market, our download numbers went up and made up that revenue of being a lower price, which is, you know, what we should have done in the beginning.

Ginger Winters (19:19): And so I think it's, you know, it's really important. And, and again, this is something we've learned for the rest of our releases that are coming. You can't just price based on what you've spent or what you need to make. You really need to do your due diligence and look into, into the marketplace that you're entering and see, okay, where is this price point? You know, three 99 for a productivity app would probably be really well received. I, you know, I've seen productivity apps that are up to nine 99 and depending on what they are, people will pay that you know candy crush type game. Yeah, nobody's done. Nobody's gonna pay 3.99 upfront for that. I, what are you talking now? They get, they get you on the in game download.

Ginger Winters (20:14): This is true. You know, so I think, I think it's really important it's if the model that you're looking at is a revenue model, and that's the goal of your app. You really need to be looking at what the marketplace will bear, how the marketplace does their revenue. You know, is it freemium where you're doing in app purchases? Is it a higher price to have, where, where does your competition sit? Because that's really going to determine what the market will bear. And the app market is really flooded. There's a lot of stuff. You know what I mean, like specifically with everybody's favorite Apple, you know, that that market is really really flooded with apps and to make your Mark, you need to make sure you're not falling to the bottom. And one of the fastest ways to fall to the bottom is to be out of the price range of your competitors.

Melissa Anzman (21:12): Yeah. So, you know, being aligned with your, in what your market bears would you say that creating an app can be an effective money generating marketing channel, I guess, for a long term, like long tail type of positioning, or is it sort of hit when the iron is hot and move on?

Ginger Winters (21:35): I think it really depends upon the individual market that you're looking at. For example, the game market today looks vastly different than the game market did three years ago. So if you had built a game three years ago and you had looked at it as, okay, we're going to, we're going to do this with a long tail vision of making our money back. There probably would have been a point where you plateau because the game market starts to change into a different model and a different kind of game. So, you know, some of that really does depend on what it is you're looking to do. If you're looking to be in certain spaces. I think that long tail can be something that you do. You know, you really need to be mindful of your cost when you're building an app. It's very easy to let your costs start to like skyrocket between development and marketing.

Ginger Winters (22:40): It's really easy to let that happen. And once you start doing that, you know, all hope is lost your revenue numbers start to look smaller and smaller and smaller, no matter what your projections look like. I think in general, the way that most, the way that we have seen the market mostly work in the last year or so is that it's really a strike while the iron is hot kind of moment. You need to be able to come out strong with your app, into whatever market you're looking at and get in there right away. You need to, you need to launch strong. And if you don't, your revenue stream is probably going to reflect that, you know, there, there are outliers, there are going to be those cases where, you know, suddenly something happens and you're picked up by Apple for promotion and you're, you know, your app skyrockets or something, but those are going to be the outliers, I think in general, you know, again, the marketplace, so full of apps and frankly, our attention span is so small these days you gotta be able to get in there and get people's attention right away.

Melissa Anzman (23:55): Otherwise you're probably gonna see a pretty narrow band of what your downloads look like. So I think that's very helpful and I want to get into a little bit more granular, but I want to be very cognizant that, you know, this isn't your personal app or your personal money. So I don't want us to talk about specific financials. And, but I do want to know just in general terms, you know, what type of investment does a well functioning app that you've seen or worked on need and how, how big of a marketing push is it? I mean, when you say market it, what does that look like maybe instead of the numbers? Like how does, how do you market your app? Well, there's a bunch of different ways and some of them cost more than others. And some of them, you know, it's really dependent upon what space you're going into again.

Ginger Winters (24:54): I'm, I'm just going to say up front, if you're going into a game space, you better have money to burn. There is so much competition in the game section that if you're not doing something to make yourself a really well known you're not gonna, you're probably gonna struggle in that space in other spaces. I think it, it really depends on what you're doing and what, what your end goal is. I think that one of the strongest ways that you can market your app is to your own list. And part of the reason I say that is because there's, there's an opportunity when your app first launches to utilize sort of this perfect storm of what happens when your app first launches the day it goes out, you end up on the new releases page.

Ginger Winters (25:57): And if you can do that, and if you can drive your own list and connections and audience to that page, and you can push yourself up through that one initial bump, you can sometimes hit a nice little lift that can carry you for a little while. And I really think that marketing to your own list is, is the best way to do that because one they're your built in audience, whatever it is you're doing, they're the people who want to hear from you and they want to hear what you're up to, and they want to hear what you're doing and what new thing you've released and what anything you're working on. They're the ones who are going to be willing to rate and review for you and reviews and ratings are really important in the app stores. They, they just, they really do help your download numbers.

Ginger Winters (26:57): And they're going to be the ones who are going to be more likely to be early adopters of yours, because again, you're a known entity to them. They're not having to do the discovering on their own. And discoverability is probably the hardest part of, of marketing. And the app is, is how do you get it seen by people? Yeah. And so, you know, that stuff, all of that stuff, those are your costs that you kind of eat on your own, you know, writing your blog posts and putting up your, you know, your new web pages and sending out your email blast and making sure your social media is all updated and that you're linking out and all of those good, fun things. So there's not necessarily a ton of costs associated with that. There's an energy cost, obviously in a time cost, but there's not much financial costs.

Ginger Winters (27:50): Now, when you start moving into some of the other ways of promoting you start to looking, look at spending some money, and there are a few options there there's, there's advertising of a bunch of different ways you know, display advertising, which I personally wouldn't recommend for most people at this point, but it is out there. There's an app advertising there's advertising networks where you can get your app promoted in, you know, with the network of things that they're promoting and that'll cost a fair chunk of change. You're going to make any kind of real dent in that you really need to be looking at having some fairly deep pockets. I would say that, you know, without getting into specific numbers, cause I haven't actually looked at, at the advertising numbers in probably about six months. I would say that if you're not going to start in that realm with at least 20,000 to $30,000, Oh my God, you're not going to make a dent in those places now where the caveat to that is is if you have, if you have connections through your own network where you can do say a banner trade, that sort of thing, that obviously is a different case, but I'm talking about when you're taught, when you're looking at the big ad networks, when you're looking at the big ad spaces where the big players are hanging out and doing their advertising, that's really, you know, when we've looked at it and we've tried it with with less dollars than that, you know, and it doesn't move the needle unless you're willing to drop some coin.

Ginger Winters (29:38): And you know, that's one of the things that's is, you know, again, it comes back to this discoverability thing is you really have to start balancing, okay, how much money do I need to make versus how much money do I need to spend? And, you know, I think that's why you really have to go into it with a really clear idea of what your goal is and what you're willing to invest in this particular process.

Melissa Anzman (30:02): What type of goals do you think let's just use? You know, not a big brand, like the ones you've worked on, but what if we use something like, you know, a solopreneur, an entrepreneur who has an idea for an app in their space, so that could be anything, right. What types of goals can they sort of get from an app? Like what's that end user idea? Because listen, I don't use a ton of apps, right? I use candy crush saga, and like maybe one or two others, if we're being honest, but I don't use a ton of apps. And so it's super foreign to me, but you're so into that world, how like, other than, you know, being in those people's hands every day, what's some great outcomes for an entrepreneur solopreneur to have through using an app.

Ginger Winters (30:57): Well, I think that there's a lot of different things you can do. And, and let me caveat all of this with you need to make sure that you understand if there are any legal issues with privacy policies in your state in particular. Let me, let me that a little bit. Learned, well, not personally learned, but we are seeing a big crackdown on privacy and I will just caveat what I'm saying with, I am not a lawyer, so I, I, no, I think that's great. But I think that there are other things that you can do. One, it can be a way it can be a funnel. Let's put it that way. I've seen people use it as a way to build their mailing lists. I've seen people use it as a way to drive sales. I've seen people use it as a way to deliver content separate from the content that they deliver in other places that then offers, you know, a reason for people to pay 99 cents, for example there are a lot of different ways that you can approach an app that don't necessarily mean the dollars at the end, at the end of, you know, what is Apple giving you quarterly?

Ginger Winters (32:25): Like there are ways that you can make that revenue stream come from somewhere else. I'll use our first app for example, right? Right. Our first app, 99 cents never meant to be a revenue driver. But what we do is within our app, we link to our other products on Amazon. Got it. Well, we did for a while before Apple got, they probably want you to leaking to IBook. Alright, so we'll change the links, but we're still linking to products, other products, products that we have related. OK. And, and are, and they have to be related, you know, consumers are really savvy these days. They, they know when they're being, they know when they're being fooled and marketed to, and they don't mind if it benefits them. And if you do it in the right way. And so, you know, for us, for example, we're able to drive and it is a small amount of sales, but we are able to drive sales of our physical products through our app.

Ginger Winters (33:38): It's not a large amount, but it is a small amount. We have seen there's definitely been times that we've used it to increase, increase our social media numbers. You know, and, and these are all things that they're maybe not a hard line, like when you're looking at a revenue number, some of them get a little more fuzzy of, you know, what your goals look like, but depending on what it is you're trying to do and how you're trying to build your brand and how you're trying to get yourself out there, you know, there's things that you can be doing that, that build this funnel toward you, that aren't just built within the environment of the smartphone or tablet. I love it. I love it. Who knew, I mean, seriously, I guess the world knows. I just, I'm late to the party. One thing I did want to ask you about, and I don't even know if you know about this, so I apologize if I'm putting you on the spot, but I've seen a lot of third party type of websites and new, new things, really.

Melissa Anzman (34:50): I don't even know their websites, but they're like businesses, but I don't know that will create an app for you for a very low cost. And it's not the greatest app in the world, but it's like your business information and click this button to email us. And here's our hours and stuff like that. Have you seen any of that at all? Like, and what would we stop with that question? Have you seen any of that in play at all? You know, I have seen some of that and I think that for certain businesses that might work, but you really have to think about what are you providing to someone for their time to find your app and download your app. Right. You know, the, the sorts of things that you just mentioned, you can do, frankly, easier by just building a mobile responsive website.

Ginger Winters (35:46): Right. You know, when you start looking at that kind of thing, I think you really have to look at, you know, yes, there are these opportunities and there are these third party businesses that will build you very, very basic apps. And some of them may be fine. You know, it may be able to cover, you know, if you have a simple idea, they may be able to do something. That's a simple idea, but you really do need to think about what are you providing to the user? What is the value that they are getting out of it? And I think the problem with some of those third party apps that I've seen, and maybe it's, maybe it's just what I've seen, but I think that it, they tend to look much more like someone going, this is what is good for me and my business.

Ginger Winters (36:36): Gotcha. And with an app, I think that you very much have to balance what is good for your business, with what you're going to be providing to a user. Otherwise they're not going to have any reason to get your app, or here's another side of that. Maybe they download your app and then they look at it and they're like, well, this is just not worth my time and worth the space on my phone. And poof, there it goes, you know, they open it once and then they never look at it again. You don't really want that either. You know, that doesn't really help you at all. So, I mean, I think you really have to balance those two things of, you know, you obviously want to do something that's good for your business. Otherwise there's no point in doing this, you know, is there like, frankly, it's not just, it's not enough to just say, be able to say we have an app. I think, I think you have to be able to say, we have an app and this is why we have an app and this is what you get out of an app.

Melissa Anzman (37:40): Nice. I love it. I do. I mean, I just I'm, so I don't know. I it's like the space on my phone. I don't want to give that up to an app or something. I'm so weird. But I w and I don't have an iPhone, so it just, you know, whatever works differently, but I really like that idea of, you know, adding value with the app. Like you, can't just say we have an app, which I've seen, I've seen a lot of people do, and it's super cool. And I'm so, you know, jealous that, Oh my gosh, they have a cool new thing and wow, it's an app, even though I'm never going to buy it or open it, but it needs to have a lot of value. And I like that as a, as sort of the guiding post

Ginger Winters (38:24): A buzz about just having an app is going to die down a whole lot faster than the buzz about an app that actually provides some value.

Melissa Anzman (38:33): Yeah, no, I agree. Absolutely. now you talked a little bit about the iTunes market and apps being sold in there. I am, I don't buy apps in iTunes. I have apps on Google play and I have apps from the windows store. I know granted there are not many in there right now. But they have grown since I've been there. So how, how has that process of getting it actually in the market? Is it, have you done all those three different things, have you really stuck with iTunes? Like what sort of, what's the process of all of that, of distribution?

Ginger Winters (39:12): We have not gone into windows, but we do. I know, I know we do have apps in iTunes, Google, Amazon, and Barnes and noble. Okay. Along with, we also have some proprietary things where we've had our apps preloaded on a couple of devices, but that's a very, very different experience and I'm not even gonna really get into it.

Melissa Anzman (39:37): Right. Like let's not even talk about that. Okay.

Ginger Winters (39:42): All the distribution for each of the market is, is somewhat different on the backend. Google is probably in a lot of ways, the easiest as from an actual getting it to the user perspective now from a tech side, the challenge with Google is that there are so many Android versions and there are so many Android devices that trying to build and test for all of those. First of all, you probably can't. I mean, we've never tested for all of them. We pick, you know, like the top five in the market and try and go with that. You're going to probably run into a few more tech issues on that unless you are working with a firm that really, really, really knows the Android market. And even then again, it's, it's the one really nice thing about Apple is that it is one system. Everybody works with the same system. It's the same exact architecture period full stop. When you start to move to Google, it's kinda all over the place. And that can be a challenge. It can be a definite challenge once you have it built, though, Google's actually really easy. You know, you basically upload it and you say, you want to publish it and you're done

Melissa Anzman (41:14): Not. So with, so with Apple

Ginger Winters (41:16): And, you know, I don't know if they've, if Google has changed it recently because we haven't, we haven't put a new app up in close to a year, but the last time we did it, it was, you know, their approach sort of seemed to be okay, we're not, we're not approving apps. We will respond. If there are complaints about an app, Apple is not the same. Apple is, you know, what I like to say is Apple is Apple. Apple can kind of do what they want. And it's very frustrating, particularly from a marketing standpoint, because you don't really have control over much of anything. Once it goes to Apple for approval and you don't have control over the timeline, you don't have control over whether they're going to approve it or not. You don't have control. And, and we've had it where the same function in one app was approved and was denied in the other app because there were two different people who were approving.

Ginger Winters (42:22): Oh, wow. So it's, it's a really frustrating process. It's a really, really frustrating process. W what I would say to people is that whatever your distribution method, whatever app program you want to go with, if, if you want to go with more than one, if you want to go with just one, whatever it is, think you really need to, to look at, you know, what does the market look like? And what is it, what are your opportunities there far and away? You know, what we have seen bear out is that the most opportunity for revenue is with Apple. So unfortunately, but it's the case. And part of that is because I think that, I think that Google has not done the best job of marketing their app store agreed. And they don't merchandise it the way that Apple merchandises iTunes. And I think that, I think that those differences really, you start to see those in the numbers when you're looking at the download numbers, and you probably have a lot of people like me who are hardcore Mac or PC, wow.

Melissa Anzman (43:42): I just hardcore PC. And don't like, get the app. Yeah. So much. And it's not that I don't understand it, but it's why are we going to download something when we can just play it in Google? Like, it's just seems weird. So I think that that for windows users, interestingly enough, is changing right with windows eight. And we are starting to look more at windows because it is that market is growing. Windows really was kind of far behind their competitors there for awhile. But you know, and that also points to the fact that look, this market is changing. Like the information that I give you today may very well be out of date in six months, the market just moves so fast and it changes so rapidly. And, you know, it looks different on practically a daily basis. And so that's something really important to keep in mind when you're planning is, you know, you need to have a little bit, you need to give yourself a little breathing room in case there are big changes in the market. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, your first one taking two years, I'm sure you had right. Had fully developed things that were like illegal. The app was finally ready. So timeline is definitely something that's unique for this type of product and patience, patience, patience. I, you know, if somebody could have sold it to me during the last app launch that we did, I would have paid big money for patients.

Melissa Anzman (45:23): Well, most of the people don't try to do three at once. I'm just saying, yeah, it was, yeah. Now we have 12 coming and go. I can't. Okay. So a few more questions, and then I promise, I'll let you go. This is just so interesting to me. I'm like, I've learned so much talking to you beyond, beyond so what was the number one biggest challenge? Like I get the technical piece, you've got to hire the right person, you know, but everything with the launch itself, from idea conception through getting it out to consumers, what was the number one biggest challenge that you had?

Ginger Winters (46:07): I think that biggest challenge that, that we had with the first one is different than the challenge that we had with the next three. And this, with the first one, I would say that it really was not understanding the scope of what we were getting ourselves into. We didn't really do any research before we jumped in with both feet. And I think that that sort of bit us in the butt over and over and over and over and over again, if we had only sat down in the beginning and really looked at the marketplace, done our due diligence, done our research rather than just going, Oh, we have this idea for this app. Let's just do it. I think we would have saved ourselves a lot of heartache. I really think that, that sitting down making a plan of what our goals were and taking a really good look at what the marketplace looked like and what, what was out and available and what people were doing and not doing with apps, I think that really would have helped us.

Ginger Winters (47:16): So that's probably my biggest takeaway from the first one is really do your planning before you jump in with both feet and all your money, you know? Yeah. Kind of makes some. Sense. You know, I know I have a little strategy, all that money. I think that, I think the second thing with the, with the next group of apps, I think that what really became our biggest problem was scope. And there were a lot of ways that that played out doing three apps at once was probably insane. The scope of what the budget cost, we really didn't have a really good handle on that. The scope of what the marketing was actually going to take to bring three apps to market at the same time. I think that scope kind of became our biggest issue. And, and because we were trying to do three apps at the same time and put them in four different distribution marketplaces that had different needs and different requirements, we sort of got buried under that process.

Ginger Winters (48:43): And so I think that, you know, if we really could have taken a better look at, you know, the scope of the project, the scope of the budget, the scope of our manpower we probably would have been better served if we could have looked at that more truthfully than we did. I think we overestimated what we could do and underestimated what the project actually was. Gotcha. Would you say that creating these apps has been a wise business decision? Yes and no. And, and this is, this is where, you know, my answer is probably going to differ from the financial guys at my office. We, we were interested in your answer because I think, you know, you were in the trenches doing, seeing all the, sort of the madness and stuff and being such a seasoned marketer. You know, if this were your business, would you sort of see, have seen these apps as a wise business choice from a marketing standpoint?

Ginger Winters (49:52): I would say yes, from a revenue standpoint, I would say, no. I, if it were my business and I was holding, you know, all of the reins of decision making and checkbooks and everything, I probably would have made some different decisions along the way. The first app that we did despite the cost and despite the fact that, that, you know, I think three years later, we're still nowhere near paying off what we paid for it. That one I can unequivocally say, I think was a great idea because it was fully intended to be a marketing piece and it has done its job well, and we maintain steady sales with very little work at this point, the next three,

Ginger Winters (50:44): Aye, aye, aye

Ginger Winters (50:48): Probably would not have done it the way that we did it. And I'm not sure that I think that the way that we ended up doing it was a good business decision. I think that had we been able to split the project out again, to go back to that scope question, if we had been able to expand it. And instead of doing three at once, if we had been able to do one at a time, my answer would be different because I do think that it brought a lot of really good recognition to us. You know, these apps have won some awards for us. They got some really nice press. So it did some, it did some brand building for us. It got us some recognition in the marketplace. There is revenue there. I'm just not at the level that you kind of needed to make up for doing three at the same time. So, you know, I, and that's where it's hard because it really does come down to what are you looking at in a given moment in time? It's like I said, if we'd been able to split these out into three distinct projects, I probably would have been like, yes, great. Let's do it again. But I probably would, would do this past one differently because I don't necessarily know that it was the best thing for our business, the way we did it.

Melissa Anzman (52:05): Yeah. And I think to add to that, you know, it's really about that end goal, right? So the first one, there were very few expectations around it where you're eating the money to have something that our users are going to absolutely love and get some brand recognition and all of that out there. So, you know, when that's the goal, that's a lot easier to judge and hit then. Okay. So we need to recoup, right. I don't even know of much, you know, through something that you can't really control. Right. Because you can market it, but you can't make people buy it. And so I think that's an interesting

Ginger Winters (52:40): Exactly, exactly.

Melissa Anzman (52:42): Cool. So my next one is, is always that advice for people who are about to do a launch, but I think you have covered, I think, I think scope and only one at a time and getting an actual expert is the best advice that you have there. And so why don't you, if you could share with everybody where people can find you online?

Ginger Winters (53:04): Well you can find me on Twitter, I'm @rambleginger. And as you can tell by my name, I ramble quite a bit. You can find me on my website at rambleramble.com. And those are probably the two best places to try and find me.

Melissa Anzman (53:20): Yup. And I'll be sure to have all the information in the show notes. And before I let you go, just want to say that I learned so much. I know I mentioned that earlier, but I really learned so much on our call today. And I really appreciate you coming online and chatting with me about it. Ginger is one of my very dear friends. And as much as we talk, we've never actually talked about, I know, so I'm like, my mind is blown. I'm reading, I'm rethinking my app aversion maybe. Oh, wow. Maybe I said, maybe I said maybe, but you know, I really liked that you have just sort of shared with us pros and cons of an app from a different perspective, from a large company. Here's what worked, here's what didn't work. Here's, you know, as a big company, as a big brand, still having to see roadblocks and challenges that an everyday entrepreneur is going to have.

Melissa Anzman (54:13): I hope you enjoy today's episode with ginger winters. As I mentioned earlier, she's a good friend of mine. And hopefully you could tell that from our conversation, she's a marketing pro and knows all the ins and outs of marketing, particularly in the book sector, her experience and insight about creating an app. And some of the things that we can know and do with an app from an entrepreneur perspective is awesome. If you'd like to get the show notes for this episode, you can go to launchyourself.co/session9. Again, that's launchyourself.co/session9. And if you enjoyed this episode, please be sure to subscribe on Stitcher and iTunes and leave us a great review until next time.

Melissa Anzman (54:54): Thanks for listening to the launch yourself podcast. Join the conversation at www.launchyourself.co.

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