Apps that Go Farther

Mobile devices are everywhere; smart phones, tablets, even those new phablets (giant phones that are as big as tablets). They’re consuming a huge amount of our day. I bet if anyone is reading this, they are most likely reading it on a mobile device. As marketers, you are naturally going to want to be on that device. But how do you reach an audience that can ignore everything and everyone and get them to pay attention to your brand?

“An app. That’s the solution. We’ll create an app! An app will let us interact with our customers, another channel, outlet, avenue, bucket or whatever other marketing term you would like to throw in.”

Before you head down this path of planning out your perfect app and pushing content to this huge audience of mobile targets – I mean customers – stop and give this some thought. I don’t, repeat, do not want you to think about your brand, all the cool stuff you are doing and how you are going to get your message out to your followers. No, this isn’t about you. I want you to think about your customer. What are they doing? What do they need? Can you help them with an app? To create a successful app, it isn’t about your brand, it’s about what you can offer the user.

Take the FREE Nike+ running app, for example. I’ve used it to track every run for more than two years. It gives me updates throughout my run, tells me my pace and distance every half-mile, the average pace of my run and has celebrity audio clips to encourage me after I finish. There’s even GPS tracking that maps out your run and then shows the splits for each mile you ran. But wait, it does more. The Nike+ app now features a coaching function. You tell it what race you want to run (5k, 10k, marathon, etc.) and the app calculates when you should start training and creates a plan to have you ready for race day. Say you want to run 12 miles. The app will estimate how long it’ll take based on your average pace as well as count down the miles and encourage you along the way.

But how does an app designed to help an individual become more than that? You create a community.

So you crushed your run? Maybe even a new personal best? The Nike+ app is connected to your social media accounts. And with just a couple clicks, you can send your road warrior ways straight to Facebook and Twitter. Better yet, you can create your own virtual running group. Invite your friends who have the app and challenge each other to race. The app automatically creates a list that keeps track of your friends’ progress each week and month. It also ranks everyone on how many miles they have run. At KCG, we are now in month four of challenging each other to run a set distance in that month’s time. In June, it was 30 miles. In July, August and September, the goal rose to 50 miles. In August, there were 15 people in the challenge and the winner of the challenge ran 50 miles in 11 days 7 hours and 18 minutes. Not only did this app help each of us track our distance but with a little competition and team building thrown in, it helped push four of us to 100 miles or more in September. My friends and co-workers helped push me to a goal that I had never achieved thanks to a digital reminder. Even though our 50-mile goal had been reached, others had not stopped and a new unspoken goal had been realized.

Here is a little app that is useful, fun, creates an opportunity to challenge yourself and your friends. You know what it doesn’t do? It doesn’t try to sell me on Nike products. I have never received an email, text or offer for Nike gear. Yes, there is a button to see what shoes they offer, and you can even retire a shoe, but I’ve never used it and they’ve never forced it on me. They give me something that I want and now rely on without forcing content or talking about themselves.

So, ask yourself, what can you do to help your customer? It should be better than a way to buy your product on a mobile device. Start with something big and crazy. Something ambitious. Something +.




As creative director, Joe Robertson oversees, inspires and develops Koch Creative Group’s team of copywriters, designers and art directors. Leveraging 20 years of agency experience with banking, healthcare and aerospace clients, he also works in close partnership with the account service team, providing insight and input on strategy and developing relationships with clients. When he’s not at work or cruising around town in his Shocker yellow Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited, Joe spends his free time renovating, overhauling or rebuilding anything he can get his hands on, including his 1918 home.