Mistakes to Avoid When You Begin Reselling Apps
One of the easiest things to do is talk about reselling apps or any business idea. Naturally, you can discuss it with passion, run numbers in your head, dream about success, and believe that everything is going to go off without a hitch.
That was me when I first got into reselling apps: all ideas and dreams, no execution. I learned the hard way just how much market research and preparation go into successfully starting a mobile app reselling business. Most of the heavy lifting happens before you ever hit the market. You need to be bringing the right product to the right market on the right platform in the right way, or you’re going to learn the same hard lesson I did.
Of course, failure is one of the world’s greatest teachers. I am better for having made my mistakes, but that doesn’t mean you have to. Here’s what I learned from my first unsuccessful foray into reselling apps, and how you can avoid the same mistakes I made.
Understand What Your Market Needs – and What It Doesn’t
Market research is arguably the most important part of your mobile app reselling venture. It doesn’t matter how good you think your idea is if there is no demand for it. When jumping into a niche market, you need to understand what services are sought after, and which ones aren’t. You are not providing general services in a vacuum, you’re providing specific solutions to specific problems—a pain pill, not a vitamin.
First, you need to understand what your niche market requires in terms of marketing, and then you have to determine how a mobile app can provide your clients with the solutions they need. Remember, you are not selling app features, you are selling a marketing solution. This is where I messed up. I got so excited about all the bells and whistles of the apps, my focus was misdirected.
I failed to do sufficient research about my niche and its users. Doing good user research will help you identify who your target users are, and what they want. That is a much better place to be than trying to, for example, pitch payroll software to an industry that is largely self-employed. Which is exactly what I did. I wanted to sell apps to youth sports teams, but I failed to realize that big box sports management software was bundling apps with their services—they just weren’t branded. My minimal research cost me a bit of money, but in the long run, I learned a lesson and landed in a niche where my company is starting to grow. So, lesson learned.
It’s also important to understand not only what your market needs, but how they use the tools they have. This is what User Experience – or UX – research is for. UX research is about understanding users’ habits when they are actually using their apps. It can be crucial to recognize a feature or function that people want, but don’t have. If you can identify this type of functionality in a niche market, you can be the first to fill that void, giving you an immediate market foothold.
But, I learned a lot more from my first failure…
Beware of Oversaturation
Okay, so you’ve identified your target market. You have a good idea of what they need, what platforms they use, how they use their technology, and even how often.
That is a great start. But it’s just that, a start. Where I got tripped up was not in recognizing what my market’s need was, it was in failing to recognize that it had already been satisfied. I jumped into a market that was already oversaturated, and I didn’t have anything that made my service stand out from the crowd.
See, it doesn’t matter if you have identified a need in your vertical slice, if the people in that slice already have dozens of high-quality options to meet those needs. Adding your name to that pile is not going to get you anywhere, unless you have some sort of edge. Are you providing your services at a lower price than anyone else can? Are you doing it differently, or providing a whole new service? If you’re not doing any of those things, how do you expect to draw customers from existing, established solutions that people are already comfortable and familiar with?
Now, here is the good news: it is not necessarily a veto of your business model itself. It’s all about choosing the right vertical. The services you offer are needed by somebody, somewhere. It is your job to figure out the market where your services will be most valued, and run with it.
Understand Your Niche Like It’s Your Business
If you’re a mobile app reseller, it’s probably tempting to keep your market at arm’s length. After all, if you’re offering white-label apps to food delivery companies, that doesn’t mean you have to act like a food delivery company too, does it?
Well, technically no… but it helps if you understand how they think. After all, one of the biggest elements of mobile app reselling is marketing. And any marketer worth their salt knows that understanding your client’s business is key to creating quality materials.
As such, it helps if you choose a vertical you’re already somewhat familiar with. Sure, you can go into something completely new, and sometimes that’s the best option. But you are creating more work for yourself if you have to learn a completely new type of business from the ground up before you start making headway.
Ideally, you choose a market vertical that you have both knowledge and passion for. It’s an old sales cliché, but it’s true – people can tell if you don’t care about what you are selling. I tried to simply jump into the field I thought would be the most lucrative, and ended up struggling to make my case when it came to closing the deal. Moral of the story: Passion matters.
Understand Your Vertical’s Platform Preference
This was something I totally didn’t expect. I figured that if I built for both Android and iOS platforms I’d be in good shape. Right? To some degree, this was true – but knowledge is power, and understanding what is popular in your niche only puts you ahead of the competition when it comes to those sales calls and emails (even if you just need it to keep small talk going).
Android devices and iOS devices dominate the mobile market, with the difference between the two platforms being fairly negligible at this point. However, that does not mean your vertical will be split down the middle! Some industries tend to favor one platform over another. For example, one commonly-held belief is that the education and creative industries tend to favor iOS devices. If you know this to be the case, perhaps you can find out why a certain industry favors a certain platform and use that to your advantage.
Generally, Android devices have slightly greater market share than iOS, but general data isn’t what you need. You might assume that, since a majority of the world market uses Android phones, developing for Android will give you the largest market share to choose from. Put that thinking out of your head. Find out what the usage trends are for your target niche. That niche is not going to follow the same trends as the general population. Sports businesses, restaurants, and hair salons all have different needs, and there may be a reason that they prefer a certain platform. You may even end up in a vertical that uses web apps far more often than mobile apps – what then? Also remember that these trends change about as often as new devices are released. Don’t go on hearsay and assumption – do research!
There are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to choosing a vertical, sometimes that right slice of the market just finds its way to you naturally. But for the rest of us, not lucky enough to have our markets choose us, these are some things you should keep in mind when you’re shopping your services. The right fit is out there, and now you know how to find it.
Erin Schollaert is the founder and CEO of Main Street Mobile Apps, a mobile app company with a vision of giving small businesses affordable 21st century marketing tools. Her goal is to develop and create solutions that support small and medium size businesses in small communities.