iPhone App Publishing – Overview

It will work. I’m a marketing genius. – Paris Hilton

Wanted to do a quick post on iPhone app publishing in order to let everyone know that this option is out there. There are hundreds of people putting apps in the store every day and hundreds of people not making any money on their apps.
Everyone sees the apps that are seemingly so simple that are making thousands of dollars every week and ask themselves “What are these guys doing that I’m not?”
The answer is: great apps and great marketing.

What is iPhone App Publishing?

In a nutshell, app publishing is taking the development team’s Xcode build and binary app and turning it into a dynamic marketing tool. App publishers tend to have a marketing focus, even if it’s a development firm, and capitalize on everything that happens to the app once it’s in the store.
Here are a few different ways app publisher business models are setup:

  1. Everything is in-house. The developers, marketers, PR team, and everything else is all under the same roof. They are completely self-sufficient and work to build their own assets which they then market themselves. This is what you see with Chillingo and others and is typically an evolution of a development shop that has a few successful apps.
  2. Marketers partner with developers. This is when a marketing firm joins forces with a separate development shop and drives all the revenue for the app. This is often done through a revenue share.
  3. Project Management. One firm (typically PR) will connect all the dots for a development shop and a marketing shop to coordinate the project. This is different because it’s usually done on a fee basis instead of revenue split. You won’t see many of these since it’s hard to justify a third party – this can, however, come through when dealing with a large corporate client.

iPhone app publishers should have the goal to get your app as much downloads as possible. Read more about the art of publishing and mistakes I’ve learned from in the post App Publishing – Lessons Learned.

What do app publishers do?

If you have uploaded your own app and gone through the entire process, you’ll know how easy it is to be burnt out after the development phase. It’s not that you don’t want the app to blow up or that you aren’t excited about the marketing, it’s just tough to stay excited about something for so long.
Publishers will do help in a few different ways:

  • Icon and screen shot design. This is not always the case, but having a really powerful design for the store front can make a big difference.
  • Write your marketing language. In the app store, there’s a good way to write your description and a not so good way. Make sure you do it right.
  • Build your app a custom website. It is vitally important to have a slick website supporting your app for people to learn more and ask questions. Publishers should be able to get you setup with a nice presence.
  • Get You External Reviews. Both paid and free reviews from some of the major review websites are worth their weight in gold for app credibility. App publishers can make all these happen so that your app has exposure and credibility right off the bat.
  • Set up promotion strategy. This is easily the most lucrative part of app publishing. They can take care of getting your app into one of the hundreds of promotions out there that can spike over 50K downloads a day.
  • Create marketing partnerships. Reaching out to bloggers and others in the community that your app is focused can be huge for long term success.
  • Manage pricing strategy. Do you know what your perfect price is? Publishers can have a targeted pricing strategy that will give your app the best ROI.

The prerelease of an app is as, or even more, important as the actual release. You need to iron out all the details during the prerelease stage to make sure that all bases are covered when you finally release that app.
Learn more tips for a successful launch and prerelease in the post Launching an iPhone App – Pre-Release Essentials.

How much does app publishing cost?

Most of the time app publishers are going to be very open to revenue splits. A rule of thumb will be that the better the app, the more likely the company will be to provide a revenue share.
This is why you may want to be wary of the firms that have the tiered packages for app publishing – you’re going to just get a flat deliverable and the very least that is described in the statement of work. I would definitely recommend finding someone who wants to go in on this as a revenue split.
If you do the tiered approach, here are some numbers I’ve seen:

  • Basic setup – $500. Press release, 10 iTunes reviews, submission to 50 review sites.
  • Tier 1 – $2,500. Branded Press Release, guaranteed submissions to 10 review sites, 50 guaranteed sales or downloads, app leaderboard publicity (on external sites).
  • Tier 2 – $5,000. Guaranteed in top 100 categories for Apple (whatever it takes to get there).
  • Tier 3 – $11,000. Custom program designed for your goals. Deliverables determined on a case by case basis.

Honestly, mobile app marketing is the one area where I’m much more into a revenue share/partnership model. The reason I say this is because it requires being EXTREMELY creative to have the positive results you want.
These templated models really don’t do anything that everyone else isn’t doing and as soon as they achieve what they said they would, they’re gone. And also know that the top 100 of a category other than all games is nothing to write home about.

App publishing is partnership marketing

The bottom line here is that partnering with a publisher is for people who have a good or great app and don’t have the resources to take it to the next level. It’s similar to hiring a real estate agent or a broker, but with a much more dialed partnership.
I can tell you right now that having a power marketer running your strategy is going to make you a LOT more money than doing it on your own, unless you are spending your time not doing updates and trying to write marketing copy and figure out which promotions to go after.
If anyone is interested in learning more about this type of marketing, please let me know. I am currently accepting partnerships (no fee) from developers or others with an app that they want to turn into a money machine.


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