Friday, 12 March 2010

In the mix

One of the things that marketing people always talk about is the marketing mix (at least the ones I know do anyway). The marketing mix can be made up of a bunch of different things. The core (if I can use that phrase) consists of the 4 P's of marketing. They are:
  • Price
  • Promotion
  • Place
  • Product
Today I thought I'd explore these a bit and see what relevance they have to marketing mobile music making applications.

Price
Pricing your app needs very careful consideration. Pricing too low mean less revenue for you obviously but may well produce higher sales. Pricing too high will mean lower take up. The app store has created the well known 'race to $0.99' for developers, which, whilst great for consumers, is not a great thing for developers.

One good example of decisions around pricing is how the Arduino board was priced. Apparently, Massimo Banzi decided to price the board at around the cost of a pizza and a beer so that students / hobbyists could have the choice between going out for pizza and a beer or starting that project they've been meaning too. Also, the Arduino is priced to be not too expense so that you are afraid you'll break it!

How does this help app pricing? Well perhaps developers should be pricing around the idea of what the user will be able to achieve / accomplish with the app? If an app gives me the ability to do a whole host of amazing stuff or produce music in lots of ways then I have no issues with paying more than the usual $0.99.

The other route which is starting to creep into music apps is the 'in app purchase' route. I have no issues with this whatsoever. I think that if you can pay more for additional content or functionality within an app then that's worth paying for. I'd like to see more in app purchase options in apps for getting hold of extra functionality etc. However, caution needs to be applied here in terms of what kind of functionality is in standard updates and what is purchasable in the app.

Pricing also needs to be thought of in terms of the product lifecycle as well, although the lifecycle deserves a whole post to itself. But to cut a long story short, it is perfectly reasonable to alter pricing over the lifecycle of the product.

Promotion
Promotion can take lots of different forms. It can be about price, special offers, advertising, PR and more.

Today there's an interesting example of a price promotion. Nanoloop has had a price drop from $8.99 to $0.99. Now this is clearly a promotional activity to drive up sales of the app. Nothing wrong with that at all in marketing terms. However, a price promotion needs to be carefully timed. Nanoloop was only released on the 16th of Feb and to drop the price this early in the app's lifecycle can be a risk. The risk here is to alienate the early adopters of the app.

A number of developers have used events for promotional purposes such as PatternMusic and Agile Partners at MacWorld. The impact of events is difficult to measure, but they can be worth it if you're able to do them on a reasonable budget.

PR is a great way of promoting your work. PR doesn't have to be just linked to the launch of an application, but can be used regularly to showcase music made by users with your application, users comments and testimonials etc. But don't be tricked into thinking that good PR is easy. If you're issuing a press release it has to be newsworthy to get noticed and needs to be well written too. Choosing who to release to is important too as there are lots of people interested in iPhone related news these days. Again, PR really deserves a whole post to itself, and it is on my list to write about.

But there are lots of other ways to usefully promote your product. Simple things like social media which I've talked about a bit. Having a straightforward and simple web site. Making sure that there's a manual / faq / troubleshooting page for your app too, which might sound obvious but can be overlooked.

Advertising is worth thinking about if you have budget for it, but be sure you can measure what you're getting for your money!

Place
This is about distribution. Obviously for iPhone developers there is only one actual outlet for distribution, but lots of routes to get there. I've no idea how many review sites there are now, the number keeps getting bigger all the time, and some of them are so huge that just getting your app in there won't necessarily get you noticed which can be just a waste of time.

Getting into blogs like CreativeApplications or Palm Sounds (of course) can get your work in front of an audience who really want to know about apps like yours. I don't intend to create a list of all the good sites or blogs to go to, but I am happy to maintain a list on this blog about which ones developers find useful. If you want me to maintain this list, then comment in your suggestions and I'll put up a list in the sidebar.

Product
Finally product. I'm not going to spend much time on this as I've already posted earlier in this blog on the subject. You know better than me about what you want your product to be and how you want it to work. I do get approached by developers to sound out new ideas, and I'm always happy to give advice in confidence if you would like feedback.

There are other versions of the 4 P's. I think one I saw went up to 8 P's of marketing, but I think for now 4 is ok.

I hope that you find this useful. If you have suggestions for future articles or if there's anything in the article you want more on then please email me at palmsounds.marketing@me.com.

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