How to create an iPhone or Droid app for your business

February 28, 2010

Screen shot 2010-02-28 at 10.46.21 AM Last week I announced that the Drew McLellan iPhone and Droid apps were available.  I also promised that I’d walk you through the process I went through to create the apps.

To give you the kind of detail I want to share, this is going to end up being a few blog posts, rather than one novella of a post!  Today, let’s focus on who I was going to partner with to get the app done.

Exploring the options

Once I decided that I had better jump on the mobile bandwagon, I sought out Mike Sansone — who many of you may know, was my blog coach when I got started and is still my Go-To guy when I need to learn something new in the space.

I asked Mike to take me on a tour of the potential vendors and help me gauge the pros and cons of each.  (A side note… there are many brilliant app designers out there but I knew I didn’t need or want something that custom.  So I wanted an off the shelf solution that I could customize a bit to make it my own.)

Mike showed me the following sites:

iSites (  This is a new player to the space.  


  • Price was right… One time $25 fee if they got to choose the ads that appeared in your app’s footer banner (all family friendly) or $99 a year if you selected the ads you’d allow.
  • They’d do all the work of submission to Apple etc.
  • Also would build a Droid version
  • Allowed the app user to share your content via Facebook & Twitter
  • With the $99 version, you could monetize your app if you wanted


  • You had to have ads on your footer banner
  • They are new in the space…not a lot of feedback (good or bad) about them yet
  • No push (send messages to app subscribers) yet

Mother Apps (


  • Clearly vetted — Guy Kawasaki and Chris Brogan among others use them
  • Free if you allow ads (which you can share in the revenue), $99 a year for the no ad version
  • They’d do all the work of submission to Apple etc.
  • fast — you could have your app in the Apple Store within 7-10 days of submission


  • Not a lot of customizing can be done — pretty much your blog feed, your Twitter feed and one other option (most use YouTube it seems)
  • No push (send messages to app subscribers) yet
  • No Droid or Blackberry versions yet (but their site says they are coming soon)

AppMakr (


  • Lots of big names are using them (Inc., Seth Godin, AllTop)
  • Very fast turnaround (Could be available in a day or two)
  • $200 one time fee
  • They’d do all the work of submission to Apple etc.
  • Phone tech support available ($120/hour)
  • Can customize the app’s tabs


  • No push (send messages to app subscribers)
  • No Droid or Blackberry versions yet

Mobile Roadie (


  • Vetted and used by people like Dan Pink and Ashton Kutcher
  • Incredibly easy interface and content management tool
  • Publishes with built in multi-language support
  • Has push capabilities
  • Already building Droid apps too
  • They do all the work of submission to Apple, Droid, etc.
  • Lots of viral features — users can share your content via Facebook, Twitter, e-mail
  • No ads


  • Most expensive of the bunch — $500 set up fee ($200 more if you want push)
  • $29/month fee


I’m sure there are other vendors out there — these are just the ones we looked at.  As I learned more about what was available, I was also able to sort out my own priorities.  Here’s how they shook out:

  • Ease of use — I wanted a content management system that I could handle on my own
  • I wanted to be able to share more than just my blog feed and tweets
  • I didn’t want to be limited to iPhone users so I wanted to publish for other platforms like the Droid
  • I wanted the push functionality
  • I wanted to be able to customize the navigation (both labels and order)
  • I wanted users to be able to share (Facebook, Twitter etc.) my content from the app
  • I wanted to be able to link to my books (with easy access to buy)

In the end, despite the higher cost — I decided on Mobile Roadie.  They offered more customization and the ability for me to really include a wider variety of content in my app.  But it was their content management system that really won me over.

In another post this week, I’ll give you a tour of just how easy it was for me to add content and create the look/feel of my app.

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5 ways to building a committed team

February 26, 2010

96784066-1 If you want a powerful, profitable company — create a powerful team.  If you want to create love affairs with your customers — create a passionate team.  If you want to leave a legacy — create a committed team.

Your team.  Nothing reflects on a business owner/leader more than the team they build around them.

So in this world of disposable everything — how do you, with genuine intention, bring that mythical team to life?

Let them have a voice:  There are few things more frustrating than having no control over your environment.  Whether it's how to handle summer hours, what charities your company will support or how a customer service policy should be amended — ask them.  Ask them and listen.

At MMG, 90% of the company decisions are made collectively.  I toss the problem/opportunity on the table and we talk about it.  When we think we've covered all the bases, we find consensus and move forward.  About 10% of the time, it's a decision I feel I have to ultimately make — but I want the team's input first.  So I ask.  And listen. 

Don't be afraid to use the "L" word: My friend Steve Farber teaches us in his brilliant book Radical Leap that the word and the emotion love belong in business.  That there's nothing wrong with loving your team, your clients and your work. In fact, I'd worry if you don't.

Make it mean something:  I don't care what you do — it has a higher purpose.  Jim Collins calls it a big, hairy audacious goal. A true BHAG is clear and compelling, serves as unifying focal point of effort, and acts as a clear catalyst for team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal; people like to shoot for finish lines.  If you don't have one….your team needs you to create one.

Celebrate the big and little wins: This doesn't have to be "send the sales force to Vegas" sort of celebrations although there's nothing wrong with those either.  It can be as simple as gathering everyone together for a quick high five.  At MMG, we have a drum that when someone has big news (new client, big project successfully completed etc.) — we bang the drum and everyone comes to the conference room to hear what's up.  It's about taking the moment.  (And we're not always good at it either, so cut yourself some slack…but make it part of your culture!)

Thank them in surprising ways: Again — this doesn't have to be a grand gesture.  Part of the fun of it is the surprise element.  One of the goofier ones that I've done is this simple.  Go buy gift cards for various places (iTunes, restaurants, your local grocery store etc.).  Get enough so you have one for each person on your team.  Then go buy the same number of Pringle's cans of chips.  On the bottom of each Pringle's can — write a number 1- how many ever you bought.   Spread the gift cards all over the conference room table and put all the Pringle's cans in the middle of the table, so no one can read the numbers.

Call in your team and tell them (with love) how proud you are of them or congratulate them on some client accomplishment or whatever.  But…set the mood and tell them why you're doing this.  Then, let each person randomly pick a Pringle's can.  Whoever got the #1 can gets to pick among the gift cards first, etc.

It will take you 10 minutes, but they'll remember it for much longer than that.

Bottom line — building a rock solid team doesn't happen by accident.  It is borne from love, gratitude and sharing a vision that matters.  The good news is — it costs very little and the rewards for you, your team and your clients — is huge!

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A marketing tip from Tiger Woods

February 22, 2010

Tigerpressconf The world is abuzz about the Tiger Woods apology.  It seems like the big question is…"was it sincere?"

What a remarkable marketing reminder for all of us.

We're going to mess up with a client, prospect or employee.  It's inevitable.  Whether it was the result of a bad but conscious choice or human error — for this conversation, is irrelevant.   Let's just nod and agree, sooner or later, we're going to screw up.

Now we can write or verbally deliver the most eloquent apology known to man, but that alone doesn't cut it.  Words are lovely but you know what they're waiting for….a behavioral apology.

Otherwise, it was just gratuitous lip service.  (Which by the way, only compounds the problem!)

What do I mean by a behavioral apology?  It can come in several forms but basically, they want to be able to trust you again.  Being sorry is swell but what they really want is to know it won't happen again.  After all, isn't that the implied promise in any apology.  Not only are you sorry about what you did…but that you're also going to fix it and prevent a repeat occurrence?

So there's the real marketing (and perhaps human) challenge.  How do we genuinely demonstrate our apology and our pledge that we'll do all that we can to prevent it from happening again?

Change a policy/process:  If something in the way you do business caused the problem — then why not learn from the mistake and make an adjustment.  The key here is communicating back to the disgruntled customer that their experience triggered an internal audit and based on what you learned — you've made a change.

Fix it x 2:  You delivered the flowers to the wrong address or on the wrong day?  Don't just re-send what they ordered — up the ante.  If they ordered a dozen roses, deliver two.  Or offer to correct the problem now with an accurate delivery AND say you'll deliver a dozen red roses on Valentine's Day to the person of their choice.  This is about going above and beyond so get creative.

Follow up:  After you've made good on whatever your mistake was — pick up the phone or drop by their office.  Demonstrate that days/weeks later — you are still concerned about having done them wrong. 

Thank them:  I know it sounds weird but it's good manners.  You might thank them for helping you discover a flaw in your process.  Or you might thank them for their patience in letting you work out the proper solution.  You might say thank you for how they handled their complaint (no yelling, biting or kicking) or that they gave you a second chance.

While the reason for doing any of these is to truly impress upon the other person that our apology wasn't just fluff, it shouldn't go unsaid that when you craft a meaningful behavioral apology — you can also generate remarkable buzz and good will. 

Our clients and employees will forgive our humanness and mistakes but they will celebrate and talk about our heroics when we rise to the occasion and craft a behavioral apology of note. 

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Social media = letting others in

January 18, 2010

88012995 Over the past few months, I have been delivering quite a few presentations on social media to groups (conferences, conventions etc.) of business leaders.

One aspect of embarking into the waters of social media that seems to give most of them some sort of tick is the idea that you have to relinquish some control. 

You can't take advantage of the connectivity, reach and viral nature of he beast without also being willing to connect, reach many people and let others share.  It's like wanting to enjoy the sensation of flying over the water in a boat at high speed but without the engine noise. It' the "other people" part of social media that provides its power.

Here's what I think of as social media's price of admission:

You have to be willing to spotlight and amplify other people's voices:

Many business owners seem to want to mute their employees and customers.  That doesn't work in social media.  Not only do you need to "let them" talk but you need to invite it.  You have to allow comments.  You are the topic of conversation somewhere.  This is just about allowing it to happen (and encouraging it) in your digital home.

You have to be willing to be imperfect:

You need to be willing to be imperfect (like Dominos).  You need to be transparent and that takes some courage.   But let's be honest here.  Everyone already knows you're not perfect.  And…will actually respect and love you all the more for just admitting it.  It's not how or whether you screw up.  It's what you do next that matters.

You have to be willing to let others change your direction:

Viral means letting go.  It means tossing an idea or program out into the social media space and inviting other people to pick up the ball and run with it.  Sometimes, they go where you think they'll go…and sometimes they'll surprise you. 

I'm pretty sure the FourSquare folks (a location based social network) hadn't anticipated that Marcus Brown would create the International Day of the Toilet — and encourage his worldwide network of friends to all create "water closet" venues on Foursquare.  The interesting thing is — will FourSquare shudder at the news or help promote the idea?

There are plenty of other things you need to do to create a successful social media presence.  But…if you can't swallow these three, don't even get started.  Social media is nothing if it's not about inviting other people into the party.

Which of these three is toughest for you?

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Is it in your kiss?

January 8, 2010

Screen shot 2010-01-08 at 12.00.34 AM Remember the song that Cher sang in 1990 called the Shoop Shoop song?  (here's a link to a YouTube video that I can't embed…by the way, check out her boots!)  The song asks the age old question — how you can tell if he loves you so.

According to the lyrics, it's not in his eyes, his charms or even his warm embrace — it's in his kiss. 

In other words… there comes a point in time when you just can't fake it.  Apparently in romance, it's in the kiss. 

But in business and marketing, it's when things get screwed up.

It's easy to fake customer love when everything is going well.  The money is flowing, the product is selling and love abounds.  But, when your back is against the wall — your brand's true colors show.  You just can't help it.

It's like Martin Luther King said (and I am sure he was referencing marketing/branding):

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience,
but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

As we launch the new year, I think every business leader should ask these questions:

When things go wrong….

Because let's face it…our own actions, how our employees act (after all, they are mimicking us) and our policies are a direct result of our choices.  Conscious or not.

If you don't like the answers to any of the above, the time to correct that is right now.  Before something goes wrong.

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What’s your marketing lagniappe?

December 28, 2009

Shutterstock_42375907 My blogging buddy Stan Phelps has always preached the word of having a "marketing lagniappe."  He wrote about it in a guest post back in April and now he's decided to write a book on the topic.

In short, lagniappe (pronounced lan-yap) is a creole word, originating in Louisiana and literally translated means 'the gift.''  It refers to a small unexpected extra gift or benefit presented by a store owner to a customer at the time of purchase. The people of Louisiana have embraced the term and have broadened the definition to include any time a little something extra is given.

Stan's point is that every company should have some lagniappe in their culture, brand and marketing efforts. 

Here's the recipe for creating a marketing lagniappe:

Here are the four main ingredients:

  1. Unexpected – the extra benefit or gift should be a surprise.  It is something thrown in for good measure.  Think 'surprise and delight'.
  2. Relevant – the item or benefit should be of value to the recipient.  Make sure that the item or service is a true benefit.  It shouldn't be a one size fits all proposition.
  3. Unique – if it's a small token or gift, try to select something that's rare, hard to find or unique to your business.  
  4. Authentic – many times it comes down to the gesture.  It becomes more about 'how' it is given, as opposed to 'what' is given. The small gift or extra communicates that you care about your client and you appreciate their patronage.

Let me give you a few examples from the McLellan Marketing Group culture:

Fresh baked cookies:  If you come to a meeting at MMG, you're going to be served warm (fresh from the oven) M&M cookies.  An added dash of double lagniappe — the M&Ms in the cookies are only the three colors (purple, green & orange) from the MMG logo. 

Who Loves Ya Baby Day?  For years, we've had an internal celebration for Valentine's Day called Who Loves Ya Baby Day (think Telly Savalas for those of you old enough to remember Kojak).  Now — we share that celebration with our MMG clients.  On Valentine's Day — each client receives a special Valentine's treat with a note from us — telling them how much we love them.  Yup — love them.  If we don't love them, we don't want to work with them.

Charity Adoption:  Every year, as an agency we put out an RFP (last year we have over 50 applicants) and adopt a charity for an entire year.  We ask some of our vendors to join us and in total, the charity will receive over $100,000 of marketing counsel, design, help and stuff. 

Marketing lagniappes can't be artificially manufactured.  They need to come from the heart (see #4 from the list above).  It's about actually wanting to go above and beyond.  It works because it's genuine. 

Stan is looking for some examples to put in his book.  And I'm betting that many of the Marketing Minute readers (that's you!) have either done or seen some great examples of marketing lagniappe.  

Check out this PPT presentation (be sure to watch the short video embedded in the middle as well) and then if you have some examples — reach out to Stan and share.

Why not tell the world what you're up to?  Or give someone else some props for their marketing lagniappe?  And as you've been reading this, if you've realized that you can't point to something that you're doing to give that "little gift" — I'm hoping that's making you feel a little uncomfortable. 

If you won't make your clients feel special and appreciated…someone else will.

Meanwhile…why not tell us here in the comments the best marketing lagniappe you've ever received?  I'd love to hear some!

P.S.  By the way…I think you can and should have some marketing lagniappe tricks up your sleeve for your employees as well.

Image courtesy of

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Are you good enough to even try it?

December 18, 2009

Shutterstock_32406070 I've been both hustling and bustling to get my Christmas shopping done.  One of the items I have purchased at many different retailers is a gift card.  I'm guessing most of you have bought more than one this holiday season so you know how easy it is.

You select the card design of your choice, you carry it up to the check out, you request a dollar amount and voila, you have a gift card.  Pretty standard.

But not always.

I was at my bank earlier this week, making a deposit when I saw a display for VISA gift cards.  I needed one for a gift so I thought…great, I'll just get it here. 

When I told the teller what I wanted, she was more than happy to sell me the VISA gift card.  Here's how the process went.

I pulled my credit card out of my wallet.  "Oh no, sir.  We can't take a credit card for the gift card."  Turns out they could….but it had to be a cash advance.  So I had to sign a form for that.  I smiled and said, "no problem."

Then, I had to fill out a different form with my name, address, etc. on it so they could register the gift card.  I smiled and said, "no problem."

Then…I had to read a 2 page disclosure and sign it.  I smiled and said, "no problem."

10 minutes later, I had my $50 gift card.  I could have bought the exact same card at my local grocery store or Walgreen's in 30 seconds.

I kept saying "no problem" but — for that bank, it was a big problem. 

  • A problem of lost esteem.  (I'm a good customer and I had to sign 3 different forms to buy a stinking $50 gift card?)
  • A problem of changed perception. (if it takes them that long to sell a gift card…how long would it take them to make a house loan?)
  • A problem of a bad association. (Every time I see that particular teller…what do you think I will remember?)

And they probably made $1 on the transaction, if that.

Many businesses, in an attempt to be everything to everyone or perhaps to squeak out yet another few pennies of profit — do things that they're not good at.  If you're guilty of this — stop it.  If you aren't great at it, don't do it.  And if you know you can't at the very least — be as good as your average competitor — for the love of God, don't do it.

Whenever we step away from our sweet spot — the thing/things that we excel at (and that our brand should be associated with) we do damage. We damage our reputation, we damage our relationships and we damage our ability to be perceived as the best.

Next time you want to add a product or service to your offerings…ask yourself the very difficult question.  Are we good enough to even try this?

If you can't be better than most — don't.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Trends that will influence 2010 and beyond

December 15, 2009

94021801 Ad giant JWT has done a year-end forecast for the past several years and has just released their thoughts on what 2010 will bring.

Here's a glance at the 10 trends they believe will shape this next year.

Searching for Stability
While many indicators point to the beginnings of an economic recovery, consumers will continue to exercise restraint until they see more clear, dependable and closer-to-home signs of stability. Unemployment lifting will be a key barometer for consumers. (Example: People are still delaying big-ticket purchases.)
Reading the Fine Print
Consumers will be working harder than ever, putting more time and energy into finding good values, reading the fine print and learning the ins and outs of nutrition, environmental impact and ethical business practices. (Example: As banks, airlines and other ailing service industries impose a complex raft of fees and conditions on customers, failure to pay close attention will be costly.)
Maximum Disclosure
While manufacturers and retailers have become increasingly transparent in recent years, legal requirements and competitive pressures will force fuller disclosure about everything from ingredients and calorie counts to carbon footprints and sourcing. (Example: Walmart is working with its suppliers to develop a sustainability index for all its products.)
The Devil Wears Packaging
As the eco spotlight focuses on the environmental costs of packaging, brands will increasingly switch to bottles, boxes and other solutions that reduce, reuse, recycle, remove and renew. (Example: Kenco Coffee in the U.K. recently launched Eco Refills, which it says use 97 percent less packaging than its glass jars.)
It's BIC, and It’s Bigger Than Ever
The vaunted BRIC emerging markets are now down to BIC—and while developed nations remain hobbled by the financial crisis, Brazil, India and China are emerging stronger than ever, both economically and politically. (Example: As the appetite for luxury in the developed world wanes, it’s on the rise in China; in October, dozens of French luxury labels, including Christian Dior and Chanel, launched a Web site <>  to promote their brands in the region.)
Trickle-Up Innovation
Products designed for emerging markets are increasingly filtering into the developed world, where consumers are welcoming them as cheaper and simpler alternatives to existing choices. (Example: India’s Mahindra & Mahindra is gaining market share against John Deere, offering suburban lawn-owners in the U.S. a lower-horsepower tractor at lower prices.)
Retooling for an Aging World
As the world’s population grows older than it’s ever been, watch for a proliferation of products and services that cater to this demographic as they strive to live independently for as long as they can. (Example: Thermador has designed a glass cooktop that automatically shuts off when cooking is completed.)
Life in Real Time
The Web is evolving into a constantly updating stream of real-time information, conversation, memes and images. This is creating an increasingly mass culture and shifting perceptions of “current,” moving modern life into the “now.” (Example: During the World Series, the Huffington Post created a real-time hub that collected the Twitter feeds of baseball writers, Yankees mavens and Phillies commenters.)
Location-Based Everything
With more location-based services and advanced mobile and mapping technologies hitting the market, the conversation will become as much about “where I am” as it is about “what I’m doing” and “what’s on my mind.” (Example: Foursquare, a gaming app, uses geo-tagging technology to help users find and share bars, restaurants and other venues with friends.)
Visual Fluency
The ongoing shift from words to images will accelerate, and we’ll see increasingly innovative ways to explain and illuminate complex topics. (Example: The animated online short “The Crisis of Credit Visualized <> ” blends storytelling, journalism and analysis to make a complex topic easier to grasp.)

If you'd like to read about each trend in detail, you can purchase the full report by clicking here.

Here's what I am wondering…which of these trends do you think will have the most impact on your business in 2010?  And…what are you doing to maximize the opportunity?

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Don’t play chicken with your pricing

November 23, 2009

87719758 Remember the old game?  You'd aim your bike or your car at another bike or car and barrel towards each other.  Whoever swerved before the collision was "the chicken."

Lots of businesses play the same game with their pricing.  They lock on with a prospect and offer up their price.  The prospect says something to the effect of…."we really want to buy it, but that's a little expensive. What can we do about the price?"

The metaphorical headlights are in your eyes.  You want the sale.  You know you can do the job well.  So maybe if you knock a few dollars (…or hundreds, or thousands) off, you can earn their business and prove to them how good you are.

Stop right there.

If you do that once, you'll be asked to do it every time.  By playing chicken and being the one to swerve, here's what you've communicated to the potential buyer:

  • My prices aren't firm — you should always negotiate
  • I wasn't being as fair with you as I could have been…I had some pad in my pricing
  • I don't have enough confidence in my product/service to sell it for full price
  • We don't believe in our own brand — we're willing to compete on price

Do you really want to communicate any one of those things to your clients and prospects?  I doubt it.

Instead, here's how to handle price objections.

First — price fairly.  To them and to you. Be confident that you can over deliver on the price paid and be a genuine value.  Don't price to be a loss leader or get in under the other guys.  Charge what you are worth but with a nod of consideration to the market and being competitive.

Second — never apologize or over justify your price.  You can't do either without sounding defensive and you have nothing to be defensive about.  And once you've lowered your price — you will never be able to charge full price again.

Third — acknowledge their concern by helping them stay within budget.  Try something like…."I completely understand your budget constraints.  If you only have $5,000 to spend, let's look at our proposal and see what we can modify (# of options, turnaround time, features, add ons, etc.) to get you down to your ceiling."  In other words….take something away or somehow modify your proposal to accommodate their budget. 

This is you respecting your original pricing AND respecting their checkbook.  In our experience, 90% of the time, you will not lose the sale.  They'll either opt for your modifications at their reduced budget (if their budget constraint are real) or they'll end up accepting your original proposal (if they were using budget as an excuse to try to get you to reduce your price.)

Fourth — recognize that sometimes this is your brand's way of helping you recognize that this is not a good customer for you.  If you just can't make the numbers work for them — they aren't your customer.  Be gracious and if you want, even suggest some lower cost alternatives.

Bottom line is — don't de-value your work by playing chicken with your pricing.  If you are good at what you do, about 20-30% of the time — people should push back on your prices a little. 

I have a very successful friend whose philosophy is…"I want them to gulp a little when they hire us.  We're an investment, not a commodity.  Then it's our responsibility to make sure they come to believe their investment was a wise one."



The speed of change

October 23, 2009

I was checking out a presentation by Frank Striefler from TBWA\CHIAT\DAY & Media Arts Lab which is really smart and thought-provoking (check it out by clicking here) and was completely wow'd by a video he included in the presentation.

Not only is it well produced, but the facts and figures will remind you to stop and appreciate what a remarkable time we're living in.  The world of communications (in the broadest sense of the word) is literally changing before our eyes.

I'd love to hear which statistic or commentary struck you as the most remarkable. 

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