Welcome back. If you haven’t read Part 1 of the B2B app marketing series, I’d recommend starting there.
B2B is the one of the best new models in apps right now (because the competition is still catching up).
This model also works with small businesses like restaurants, bars, contractors, real estate companies, etc. It’s bee around for as long as business has existed, just never on the mobile platform. The time is now!
In most B2B marketing courses, you rarely see a section on mindset. In our situation, however, I think it’s very important to walk through this.
“Mindset” might not even be the right term – more like “Expectation setting” or “Framing the opportunity.” It’s vital that you understand that this is not saying B2B is better than any other form of business, just that it’s different.
Everyone (including myself) is guilty of following the masses. As developers, we see a hot trend in the app store and we jump right on it!
But whether you like it or not, you’ve been thinking about apps in a restricted way over the last few years. Even if you’re brand new to the app business, you probably have a narrow vision of what it’s all about.
That’s not a problem when you’re focused on dominating a particular model (reskinning, emulating, etc), but it does create issues when you want to change directions. As I mentioned in the previous post – if you’re looking at this business path (B2B) the same way you looked at apps before (reskinning), you’re going to miss a lot of the bigger picture.
In this post, you’re going to learn how to change your thought patterns around:
- The “walls” of the app store
- Time and money multipliers
- Achievement potential
- The value of a reskin
- The value of a relationship
- Contribution vs Expectations
We’ll go into all of these, but realize that you are about to flip a lot of what you know on it’s head.
Let’s get started 🙂
The Walls Of the App Store – Your Own Glass Ceiling
When you think about apps, you think about the app store.
It doesn’t matter if it’s iTunes or Google Play (or anything else), you think about how an app needs to live inside the app store. That means you’re playing by the rules of the app store as well – algorithm, review times, regulations, monetization, etc. The app business has become synonymous with the app store.
In a way, this can be a good thing.
There’s a clear sandbox to work with. You can wrap your head around the entire scope and build out a targeted strategy that works.
When you’re working inside a framework or sandbox, you can limit the options your brain makes. Many people (including myself) do very well in situations like this – understand the limits of your environment, then become as creative as possible within those limits.
The problem with the app store, however, is that those limits are VERY hard to be creative with. Coming up with new traffic methods or data aggregation processes still have to filter through the gateway of the app store. Users still have to go to iTunes, download your app, then open it.
PLUS there is a huge disconnect on the data transparency.
Realize that right now, when you think of apps, you are unconsciously putting all your thoughts inside the app store already.
Compare this to the internet. There’s no regulatory board that tells you what you can or cannot publish. Sure, you need go get a domain name and all that, but you can be up and running in a few hours. You can send very inexpensive traffic quickly. The barriers between you and marketing are low.
As you begin to think about B2B app marketing, you need to think about apps existing without an app store. This happens in a few ways:
- You view apps as products. You’re providing a product in itself, not a conduit to getting downloads.
- You think about the client’s existing marketing as your download strategy. Keywords and ASO are gravy.
- Most of all, the app store becomes a hosting solution, not a marketing solution.
That last point is worth repeating:
In B2B marketing, the app store is a hosting solution, not a marketing solution.
The more you commit to this mindset, the more success you will have in B2B apps. You are using the app store simply as a place to hold your files and download apps seamlessly to phones.
Dissolving the current assumptions you have about the app store is paramount.
Time and Money Multipliers of B2B
When anyone is starting out in business, especially digital marketing businesses (like apps), they often follow the “spray and pray” method. Throw as many darts as you can and see which ones stick.
There’s a lot of truth to this, but not because you’ll necessarily find a winning business model. It’s because you’ll learn a lot faster by actually doing stuff than if you just read books and blog posts about what you should do. Same is true in most educational settings.
With B2C (reskinning and traditional app projects), you are spending your time constantly trying new things. Think about how many different variables you are trying to figure out on any given project – source code, keywords, monetization/ads, marketing. You have a moving target because there isn’t one thing that consistently works.
A good example to contrast this is when you had a casino code that always made money when reskinned. You removed the variable of source code and ad networks by using something like Applovin every time. Each day all you had to focus on was keywords and marketing.
What happened in this situation? Your business exploded. You worked harder. Because your time was spent on making one aspect of the business succeed, things worked.
Realize the lesson here: by removing variables in your app business, you are increasing your ability to scale. B2B removes variables.
With B2B, you have fewer variables. If you are focused on a niche like doctors, you may only need 1 or 2 source codes. You don’t need to wonder if that source code will “work” the way you did in the B2C world – once you can identify that doctors want that type of app, your work is done.
You may be able to remove ASO/keyword research. You’re not promising the doctors downloads, you’re offering a solution. If they want the ASO, they can pay for it later.
You end up with a tight sales pitch and product offering that is proven. This is like having a source code that will make money every time you publish a reskin. The equivalent here is finding doctors and closing the deal.
What’s exciting about this is that your time and money multipliers are HUGE compared to B2C – each published reskin of a source code may net you $1,000 over it’s lifetime after costs, whereas each B2B deal may net you $5,000 over it’s lifetime. A well oiled app publishing machine may take a week to produce an app, a well oiled B2B business may take a few hours.
Not only that, the process actually gets EASIER to make money the more you do vs getting harder with reskinning because of the algorithm and competition. As you get a reputation and a portfolio in B2B, your business goes up.
Your time is more effective and more lucrative. Each minute is worth more than ever before.
You need to change your mindset to reflect this – the MORE deals you close, the more efficient you get vs in reskinning where the more you produce, the slimmer your margins seem to get.
Systems = Efficiency = Multipliers
This is something that many people often confuse.
If I asked you “Would you like $1M?” you’d probably say “Hell yes.”
But if I asked you what you want from your app business, you’d probably tell me that you want a steady, passive income that covers your current salary and allows you the freedom to wake up and do whatever you want. Let’s say that’s $7,000/mo.
The difference is subtle, but powerful. The first statement is based on desire, the second based on necessity. You don’t “need” $1M but you do need $7,000/mo.
When you wake up and tell yourself that you need to make XYZ amount each month, you’re putting your own ceiling at a level that has almost no room for flexibility.
If you did hit that $7,000/mo goal, you’d probably spend your time making sure you didn’t drop to $6,000/mo. You’d be scared shitless that you’d lose it.
Compare that to gunning to make a system that pulls in $30,000/mo – how would you feel when you hit $7,000? You wouldn’t sit around stressing about losing $1K, you’d be figuring out how you can scale even more.
The reason I bring this up is because if you are thinking about building that passive income to cover your costs, it doesn’t matter if you’re in B2C apps or B2B apps – you’re going to get hosed either way. You need to re-frame your foundation of what it is you can build with your business.
B2C apps, reskinning and everything in between were all built on the promise of passive income and a beachfront lifestyle. For many, that’s happened. But the bigger issue is that it creates a “what’s the minimum amount I need my portfolio to make to have that lifestyle” mindset, when in reality all you REALLY want is to not be stressed out anymore.
One of the reason B2B apps are considered unsexy is because they require follow up, in-person meetings (or phone meetings) and tend to be devoid of margaritas on the beach on Tuesdays. But it also breeds a person who’s mindset is about SCALE, not necessity.
When you think about what you want to achieve with your apps, you need to get away from how much monthly income you need your apps to make and start thinking about how big you can grow your income. This is important for B2B because if you focus on YOUR needs, your clients will disappear and you’ll find yourself in the same defensive position you were before.
If you focus on how big you can scale, you’re going to focus on your customers before yourself. And lo-and-behold, you’ll probably start making a ton of money.
Change your idea of achievement before getting into B2B. This is not about lifestyle first, it’s about building big, profitable systems.
The Value of a Reskin
In the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, they tell you to coin a phrase.
Tim Ferriss is one of the best examples of this with his “Four Hour” series of books. When you hear those words, you know you’re going to be learning about productivity, lifestyle and creativity.
“Reskinning” and I suppose “Flipping” both became terms like this. Some would say Bluecloud had a role in that, but it was more of a general understanding of a particular type of app business model.
The problem is that a “reskin” was associated with a few traits:
- Low quality
I don’t think anyone would refer to the term “reskin” and say they think of high quality. That’s just how the term evolved.
In many of our posts and in TONS of the Bluecloud Select videos, we’ve tried to explain that “reskin” is actually more of a foundation or a template. You can reskin high quality apps the same way you can cheap source codes.
But, let’s be honest, most people still think reskinning means low quality apps flooding the app store.
And that’s what needs to change if you want to get into B2B.
You are going to be taking a handful of source codes and “reskinning” them for your B2B clients. It’s like you’re selling the same software to 100 different people and replacing the logo for each client.
If you continue to think that reskinning and a reskinned app = low quality, you are going to have a hard time in the B2B world. You will have a hard time being proud of your work and you will not charge enough.
A reskin in B2B is a solution. It is a better product for a targeted customer.
Change the way you view the model and you will start to see the value in what you have in your reskinning business.
Value of the Relationship
In B2C, you deal with hundreds of thousands of “micro” relationships.
You have faceless clients who download your apps anonymously. You don’t know who clicks on the ads, who purchases your in-app goods. No name, no phone number. They’re data point #3,403 in your App Annie account.
To you, the value of your relationship through the app is very low and for obvious reasons – you deal in volume and high turnover. There is no reason to genuinely care about the people you get money from other than offering some support here and there.
In many ways, this is why people love the “passive income” allure of digital businesses. No people, no relationships. No responsibilities.
When you can effectively turn relationships into data points, you can make decisions to go against business fundamentals. You can load up the ads in your app to get more revenue. You can publish apps that you aren’t proud of because you know they’ll make you money.
This is notorious for early stage digital markets – websites, SaaS businesses, apps. Think about how much Comcast cares about you, customer #48903904, when your internet goes out.
Similarly, think about how much loyalty you have to Comcast, how much you’re willing to spend with them because of that.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. Dealing with people and customers can be a huge issue.
But if you want to get into B2B, you need to be prepared to work with clients and people. A lot. You need to shift your mindset to realize that it is part of the deal, it’s a cost of doing business. There’s more money potentially, but this is a tradeoff.
Re-think how you value relationships before diving into B2B. You cannot turn your back on clients to focus on your product or your revenue.
Contribution vs Expectation
This is not exclusive to B2B app marketing, but is critical for long term success. I would urge anyone to adopt this mindset shift in as many parts of their life as they can, to be honest.
Most of us get into business to make money. Down the road we may shift to something more altruistic, but for the most part, people start their own companies in order to generate revenue.
It’s no different in the app business. We build our first app, press publish and wait for money to come in. We want our efforts to be rewarded with downloads which turn into cash. We focus on how our efforts will make OUR lives better.
Of course, there are plenty of people who build apps to “change the world” or whatever other Silicon Valley clichés you want to cite, but most people don’t.
The shift that must occur, however, is that we must work to make someone else’s business/life better. It’s the realization that business might not be about exchanging services for money, but actually about providing value to someone else. Money is the byproduct.
When you wake up, you probably check your download and revenue statistics early in the day. “How well did I do? What did my apps do for me?” Everyone does this.
The attitude around this is consumptive – you are asking the world to give YOU something. Yes, you did the work and spent the money to get those apps in the store, but that doesn’t mean you deserve money for it.
This may be a hard concept to swallow, but stay with me.
What if you woke up and asked yourself “How many people did I positively impact yesterday? How many people did I help?” followed by “How can I serve even more today?”
Instead of thinking about how many dollars you GET, you start thinking about how much you GIVE.
Your mindset shifts from making money to providing value.
In B2B, if you are sitting down with a client and looking them in the eye, you have two ways to translate that experience:
- This person is a potential $3,000 deal
- I could potentially help this person make an addition $30,000 for their business with my app solution
You need to commit to #2 as often and with as much force as you possibly can. Why? Because you are dealing with PEOPLE now. That means they’ll see through you if you’re just looking for the money AND they’ll also say yes if they see that deep desire to help them.
B2B can be difficult or easy depending on this basic premise. People are highly perceptive – if you commit to the belief that you can truly help someone with your app solution, sales will be the easiest thing you’ve ever done.
Part 3 – Identifying Your Market
WHEW. That was a lot. Thank you for staying with me all the way to the bottom.
You now have a playbook for changing your mindset for success in B2B apps. You’ve learned:
- The app store is nothing more than a hosting solution. You no longer depend on Apple or Google for your downloads and revenue.
- B2B cuts out many of the variables that tank app businesses, allowing you to leverage your efforts and scale.
- Creating large, powerful systems is more important than lifestyle in B2B.
- Reskins need to be redefined – if you do not change your perception, you will have a difficult time succeeding in B2B.
- Relationships > Products > Data. You must learn to prioritize relationships with your clients above all else.
- An attitude of contribution is critical for long term success in B2B. Believe that you are adding value to your client. Believe it with everything you have.
If you agree to make these mindset changes, you will be in a very good position to get into B2B apps.
In Part 3, we are going to get into identifying the markets you will tackle. We’ll talk all about what B2B markets are, how to research them and how to create a winning scenario for your B2B app business.
Here’s a link to Part 3 – Identifying Your Market (Click Here)
See you soon.
This series you’ve created is pure gold man! I think you’re absolutely correct in shifting the mindset from ‘How did my apps do’ to ‘How many people did I positively affect today’. It’s about creating value in the market and helping others. From my experience in consulting I see how effective face-to-face interaction can be. You really have to maintain customer focus and relationship for your business to improve. Fantastic article man!
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@Jeff – Thanks dude! Good insight especially based on your B2B experience. You’d crush this stuff if you get into it. Hit me up if you do!
Thank you so much for putting the time into this! I love how straight-forward you are about everything, and looking at your portfolio it is obvious your advice in the app biz should be followed. I am very interested in B2B, came up with some ideas and some potential customers. However, I am not familiar at all with how to create an app, so I would obviously need to hire people to do the job for me. Everything is kinda overwhelming and I do not know where to start. Any advice?
Thanks for the feedback!
The best thing you can do to get started with apps, is sign up to our mailing list on the Bluecloud homepage. From there you, we will walk you through the development process and introduce you to great resources like the 21 Step Checklist (Free) and our Bluecloud Starter Kit.
The second thing I recommend doing, it start looking for an App Template. An App Template is essentially an app that has already been developed, and is neatly packaged up so anyone can purchase it immediately saving the time, costs, and the hassle of the development process. This is a great strategy if you want to pick an affordable code and get it published quickly so you can learn the ropes of app development. There is also a VERY good chance you can find an already developed B2B app similar to what you’re looking at building, and simply build off of it. Check out services like Fliptopia, Code Canyon, Game Gorillaz, Chupamobile, etc.
Thirdly, keep reading up on app development and B2B, we have a whole blog categories on these topics. And finally, start networking with people in your business field, and in the app realm. There are lots of forums and communities like Bluecloud Select that share resources and can quickly answer your questions.
Best of luck!