This is an autobiographical account of how Dr. Jerry Newman and I conceived, created, and market the MyMeetingPro App for simple effective meetings. I hope that this article provides learning for others who wish to create and market Apps.
About 3 years ago, I was doing a project at Steris Corporation. Jerry was the director of Research and Development. I had done numerous projects with Jerry over the last 15 years. I facilitated meetings to clarify the long term and short term new product development priorities. We launched programs such as Lions of Innovation to build leadership capabilities. We built a leadership development model for new product development . But enough background!
Jerry and I both felt like there were so many meetings that suck. People just don’t know how to run an effective meeting. I said, “We really should create an App that helps people run better meetings”. Jerry liked the idea and a partnership was formed.
I’m an idea guy. I have a zillion ideas that are mostly just that….ideas. Come to find out, one of my top strengths is ideation. I collect ideas. One of Jerry’s strengths is Achiever and Maximizer. Jerry is much more of a doer. Together, it made a good partnership.
We began doing research about partners that could help us in this creation. We found a local Dallas supplier who outsources much of the programming to India.
In project management, they say that you are always striving towards
Pick 2 out of the 3. If it’s good and fast, it won’t be cheap. If it’s good and cheap, it won’t be fast.
We designed the UI. That’s user interface for all of the tech newbies. Believe me, I needed a definition when we started. We began to draw and create mock ups of screens and the desired results of the app. We agreed on the design. The proposal with costs was developed and contracts were signed. We found our supplier, paid 50% up front and got started.
Well a year later, it felt like every mistake that could be made was made more than once. If I were to do this again, I would build milestones into the proposal that have to do with time frame. Perhaps pay bonuses for meeting certain deadlines. We started with one programmer, he was fired, another one started. People working on the project moved in and out like a revolving door.
We finally launched and uploaded to Apple iTunes and went live. We paid our final amounts and were given the code. Later, Jerry’s son did a total rebuild and we also launched 2 other Apps including MyMeetingPro Plan and MyMeetingPro Cost.
But finally, we had 3 killer Apps that we were proud of. We tried to follow good design principles. We gave the new product to beta testers. Let me say a little bit about beta testers. They were a mixture of friends, family, and recruits. We attempted to bribe a few. We gathered feedback from these users and dealt with bugs. We gathered input from users when they sent us emails and implemented suggested features.
Apple takes 30% of all sales in iTunes. The developers get the rest.
Now let me tell you about marketing. Here are the things that were done to market the app.
1. The MyMeetingPro website was created.
2. A MyMeetingPro facebook page was created.
3. Forums were contacted.
4. MyMeetingPro Twitter profiles were created.
5. Automated twitter messages were created publicizing MyMeetingPro and gathering relevant followers using Hootsuite and Socialoomph. Try and make your twitter posts 80% value added content and 20% advertising.
6. Weekly blog talk radio show was co-hosted with Dan Harley.
7. Online reviews were written by Daily App Show, AppDictions, and iPad Apps Review Online. Several of these were paid reviews.
8. I created MyMeetingPro YouTube videos and created a channel.
9. Friends were encouraged to write good reviews on iTunes. Some good reviews were unsolicited.
10. Paid advertising was conducted on Facebook and LinkedIn
11. App was touted and advertised in every training class that I conducted.
12. App was shown to strangers at Starbucks, bankers, and poker players in between hands.
13. Ongoing discussions are taking place around partnerships with clients who offer effective meeting training.
14. We were inches away from an article in Businessweek. We had been interviewed and the piece describing MyMeetingPro was edited out. We were contacted by the reporter due to our high ranking in Google.
The bottom line is that we have done good, but not great. It’s projected to have a two year payback. I would do it again, but it would have to be a really big idea. I’m willing to partner around your app idea if it’s a “big idea”.
Please give me your comments, questions, and suggestions!
When we arrive at the end of our journey, we realize that we’ve just begun, and we see the place for the first time.