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Promote your mobile app with paper?!

April 2, 2015 01:49 PM
http://www.internetretailer.com/static/uploads/thumbs/Brushstroke_App_300_jpg_78x78_crop_q95.jpg

It seems really counterintuitive to call a paper-based method of promoting a very digital, very paperless item like a mobile app "brilliant." But that's precisely what the little calling cards at cash registers in Starbucks are. They're brilliant.

I was at a Starbucks in McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, grabbing a bottle of water and some snacks for a flight. At the register, I glanced down and there was a stack of what looked like business cards. But two things stood out on the face of these cards: the word "App" in big bold letters, and, a very colorful parrot within a rounded-corners square, the universal icon for a mobile app. (See accompanying image.) In the rush of a typical checkout, I thought very hurriedly: "Are those gift cards? Are those free? What are they? I want one." I grabbed one, saw additional text that said, "Pick of the Week," knew then it must be free, and put it in my pocket. (Yes, the cashier saw me.)

Showing a smartphone lover a colorful app icon is like ringing a bell for Pavlov's dog: Both will drool. I honestly didn't even know what it was, but knew I wanted it. Upon closer inspection when I found a seat, I discovered Starbucks and Apple Inc. now have a program where they promote an "App Pick of the Week" and this week the app is Brushstroke. The only thing the card says about the app is that Brushstroke allows a user to "Refine your pics into works of art." And of course there is the colorful, artistic rendering of a parrot, the icon of the app.

I guarantee you I am going to download this app. I'm writing this on the plane right now (no Wi-Fi available) so I can't download the app and have no way of finding out a single thing about the app. But I will download the app in the cab on the way home from the airport. There's a free download code on the back of the card, so I presume normally it costs a buck or two. But the card also says the app offers in-app purchases, so the app-maker is juicing up its total downloads while gaining a bigger base of users to which it can sell god knows what.

None of the details of Brushstroke matter. What matters to you is, this is a great way to get consumers to download your app. And I'm not just talking at Starbucks, or just about apps consumers normally must pay for.

Let's say I'm the mobile chief at a big chain retailer with an app that is (of course) free. I'm going to print off a jillion of these little cards with a beautiful rendering of my app icon and the word "App" in giant letters and include a code that gives folks who download the app or already use the app 5% off the next purchase made in the app. Then I'll put stacks of cards at every register nationwide. Why? Well, U.S. consumers spend 52% of all digital time within a mobile app, comScore tells me, and retailers and studies show that mobile app shoppers spend more and more often than other digital shoppers. So duh.

Let's say I'm the e-commerce director at a mid-sized web-only retailer with an app that is (of course) free. I'm going to print off quite a few boxes of these little cards with a beautiful rendering of my app icon and the word "App" in giant letters and include a code that gives folks who download the app or already use the app 10% off the next purchase made in the app (need a better offer to lure folks away from the giants). Then I'll partner with a non-competing business that has physical locations and have that business distribute my app cards. Why? Well, U.S. consumers spend 52% of all digital time within a mobile app, comScore tells me, and retailers and studies show that mobile app shoppers spend more and more often than other digital shoppers. So duh.

Trust me: I am the perfect test subject for stuff like this. I'm an iPhone and iPad user (your most valuable mobile customer, don't even bother checking your analytics), I routinely engage in mobile commerce, my mobile devices are no more than three feet from me 24/7, and the only time I use a desktop computer is on my desk at work. At minimum, I am more or less your present, but definitely your future. And this little promo card hooked me and reeled me in.

Now, what do I do once I've downloaded and opened the app? Well, if Brushstroke has a compelling mobile experience and meets a need (I love messing with pictures on my smartphone), they've got a new app user and customer. If not, they have one more download to add to their total. But post-download is another story. This Starbucks "App Pick of the Week" promo is a brilliant idea you can take and run with today. And if you print some cards of your own and are offering in-app discounts on steaks, candy or Doctor Who merchandise, SEND ME A CARD.

Sign up for a free subscription to Mobile Strategies 360, a new weekly newsletter (debuting in May) reporting on how businesses in all industries use mobile technologies to communicate with and market and sell to their consumers. Mobile Strategies 360 is published by Vertical Web Media LLC, which also publishes Internet Retailer, a business publication on e-retailing.

 

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