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Jun 13, 2011

Consumers and return on investment: Lemonade stand cont.

In previos blog entry we have discussed the "Lemonade", now let's discuss who is going to "drink" it. Who is the user? When my kids open their lemonade stand, they know exactly who their consumers are. Since pretty much everyone in our neighborhood has kids, we all know we are on the hook for Girl Scout Cookies, Boy Scout Popcorn, school fundraisers, and lemonade stands. Therefore, my kids' customer base is all of their friends and any parent within line of sight. General and at the same time laser-focused. In my Sleep Disorder scenario, "People with sleep-disorders," as it turns out is a pretty undefinable user base. But also a relatively finite user base even among the 100 plus million iOS device users. People with stains, on the other hand, are probably universal among the 100 plus million iOS device users. The size of a constituency, as in the case of my kids' lemonade stand is not always critical, but identifying, targeting and reaching the fullness of that constituency is. Another example: I recently read about some folks at a political action committee who had invested in an app that they had intended to be an outreach to their opponents, to inform and perhaps sway people to their side of the aisle. They failed miserably. The problem was that while they were saying that they wanted to reach people who were their political opposites, their application was actually positioned in such a way that only their fellow adherents would download the application. It is imperative that the users or audience are clearly understood. Investopedia defines Return on Investment: A performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment or to compare the efficiency of a number of investments. ROI with regard to mobile applications can be monetary or strategic, but must be understood and established before the investment in the application is undertaken. For my kids and their lemonade stand, their ROI has always been quarters. Not cash, not cash value, but "Hey Dad, I got six quarters today." The realization that six quarters is $1.50 has never seemed to matter, the more quarters the better. As I discussed the sleep disorder application, the goal was to help people, the goal was to refer people to sleep clinics, but there was no plan for ROI. By definition an ROI must be measurable. But even if the sleep disorder application had effectively enabled a million users to self diagnose and find a sleep clinic, that result had no measurable means of evaluating success. With regard to the stain cleaning application, the ROI expected was not financial, but creating brand engagement. Meaning that users would have the opportunity to connect and interact with their brand in a significant and repeatable fashion. ROI was set up by encouraging user generated contact in the application. The user could take before and after pictures of their stain. They were enabled to share the photos via Facebook and Twitter, and also had direct access to the company's customer service team for company intervention in cleaning their stain. Furthermore, application analytics were implemented in the code to validate the features that the users were viewing and utilizing. Therefore this client was able to validate that their user base was in fact engaging in the brand and receiving the benefit of the company's experience in cleaning and the full benefit of the appliances that they owned in their homes. In my final installment, I will summarize, conclude and offer a brief thought on Monetization.


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