Podcast: Episode 20 – To App or Not to App?

We’ve made it to lucky Episode 20! What? 20 isn’t a lucky number? Well, fine. Be that way. Enjoy the episode.

  • Our Tool of the Episode is Elevate, a fun brain training app where you can play your way to a smarter you. With both free and paid versions, you have plenty of options to hone your mind so you can be the best entrepreneur you can be.
  • In our Deep Dive, we go Shakespearean as we ask: to app or not to app? It’s a buzzword, but hold your horses. You might not want to drop all that cash on an app developer just yet.
  • In our trivia segment, we discuss dating apps, Alexander Hamilton, and try to convince Craig that winning isn’t everything. All this and more on the IWantBusiness Small Business Podcast.

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Can’t hear well or just don’t feel like listening? We’ve transcribed the entire podcast below.

Episode Transcript

Craig: Welcome to IWantBusiness, the Small Business Podcast. We’ve made it to our 20th episode! Woo!
David: Woo!
Craig: Huzzah! (laughs) My name’s Craig and alongside I’ve got David.
David: Shalom.
Craig: You know what I like? Brian Fritz, our producer extraordinaire, is here. He’s laughing. David has really stepped his game up on his greetings. They were very weak early. Incredibly weak.
Brian: Yeah.
Craig: (laughing) Yeah.
David: Unfortunately, the comments all mentioned that.
Craig: Did they? I believe that.
David: Yeah. It was the first 15 seconds and people were just not sold on the welcome.
Craig: Yeah. We were losing listeners.
Brian: Between that and once we started talking about David’s tool all the time, it really opened him up.
Craig: But David has such a strong tool and it is how we open episodes. David’s tool (he starts laughing) is how we get things done collectively.
This whole episode’s gonna be about apps. To app or not to app? Our Shakespearean app episode. Opening up: David’s tool.
David: All right, so before we start getting in to app or not to app, let’s talk about something that I really find is a great app that I use daily. And so I thought I would mention it. Because it’s fun.
Craig: You use this tool daily?
David: I use this app daily. (Craig and David laughing) That app would be Elevate.
Craig: (singing) Elevate!
David: Elevate. We’ve all seen the commercials for Lumosity, where you do the little games and everything like that. It’s on the same kinda wavelength as that.
Craig: What is Lumosity, please hold?
David: You’ve never heard of that? So it’s an app on your phone that allows you to do everything from…let’s say memory or speaking or math…. They’re little one- or two-minute games and stuff and they score you at the end of it and you can earn points…
Craig: Cool!
David: …And they rate you based on the difficulty. And as you move your way through the app, the tasks get more difficult.
Craig: Okay.
David: So maybe it’s about spelling words properly or coming up with synonyms for certain words or maybe it’s math, so figuring out 15% of certain numbers. It’s fun. They’re in fun, little games with fun, little….
Craig: I wasn’t privy to this! I want this app now.
David: Yeah, it’s fun! So every evening I find myself doing it. You try to get the “excellent” score, which gets you the most points. It’s just fun. For me, my expertise is in math, so it puts me at an “Expert” level on most of those and it feels good. But I feel like, for me, it’s really helping me with listening or if you’re too verbose, you read a sentence and you figure out what words you can take out of it.
Craig: Nice.
David: It’s just fun. I feel like it keeps your mind going and lets you do something fun. There’s a free version where you can do three of them a day—
Craig: Elevate.
David: Elevate. And there’s a paid one or whatever. But again, it’s an app that I use every day. It’s something a little different, something to kind of take yourself away for a few minutes while you’re drinking your coffee in the morning or before you go to bed at night. Whatever your off-time. Spend five minutes, there’s more training you can do if you really want to. I usually just do about five minutes of training every day and I feel like a new man.
Craig: I think I’m gonna download Elevate. I want my brain to expand.
David: It can only help you, right?
Craig: Your brain is more expanded than mine.
David: The other companies, they all tell you, “If you do this, you’re gonna improve this by this much.” They’re not saying that, but they’re saying it can’t hurt to keep your mind going. I’m all for it.
Craig: I agree with that. And you said a couple things that really pertain to what our concept tonight—today is. Tonight, today, who knows? You could be listening at night!
David: Yeah, but there’s sunlight right now.
Craig: Yeah, but people could be listening at night.
David: They could.
Craig: So, to app or not to app? That is the question.
David: Is it?
Craig: It is! Because “app” itself might be the buzziest, most overblown word in all of tech. First of all, “app” is just short for “application,” right? But when people are talking about an app, they’re talking about something on your phone that is one of the little things you touch. Right?
David: In the App Store—
Craig: Yes. You either get it from the Android store or the iTunes Apple Store.
David: We’re not talking about the Windows App Store?
Craig: They have one?
David: Yeah, they still do.
Craig: They still do. So why are apps and the word “app” so buzzy and overdone? It seems that pretty much any client we speak to—small or large—they either want an app, have had something that looked like an app, or want to know more about an app and how they can have it.
David: Right, it’s in a five-year plan.
Craig: Yes.
David: Where it’s like, “I’m gonna want this, this, this..and the app.”
Craig: And I want to be very clear about our position for the IWantBusiness podcast as well as Clarity Creative Group’s position. If you are a small business, you don’t need an app. Now, I know that’s strong. It’s a strong position to take.
David: Wow. Taking sides.
Craig: But I’m gonna let David explain some of it in that…all I’ll start with is, why Elevate was your tool and an app that you use every day. You’re gonna use an app that has a function you need.
For me, there’s apps I go on every day. I like to check HODL, which is a cryptocurrency stock tracker. I go on my bank. I go on The Chive. Those get used daily, for me. And everybody has apps they use daily.
Why? Because they serve a function. My bank gives me my banking information. HODL tells me where the cryptos are. Chive makes me smile or laugh or whatever. Elevate gives you that something in the morning or evening to stimulate your brain.
But if you’re a lawyer, for example, or an insurance company, and you want an app, what the heck’s it gonna do?
David: Right. Where you now assume that, because people download it, they’re gonna use it and it’s gonna be on Craig’s top 5 apps that he’s using today on a daily, weekly, monthly…let’s go, yearly basis. Is that what you think they’re thinking they’re gonna get?
Craig: I think that most small businesses, even small to medium businesses, think that an app should be a part of their marketing. Because they use apps. But again, that missing piece of the puzzle is, what function does this serve? What question does the app answer? Does it do anything for you?
The reason we use apps…and to be honest, I have a lot on my phone that don’t get touched a lot, because they’re not really making it into my, “I need to do this function today.”
And if you don’t have a function, and really, for 90%+ of businesses, there won’t be a function that the app’s gonna do! If the app’s gonna tell them the same things that you could have found on a regular website, who the heck’s gonna touch that more than the first time they download it? Why would they? What could they get from it?
Again, I use the reference of the bank. And that one, to me, is always gonna be used for me. Why? I can deposit checks. Mobile deposit. To me, that’s an amazing app.
David: You know what I like about our banking app is you can even login with your fingerprint.
Craig: (sings) Fingerprint! And I can do that for Fidelity, for investment tracking and for things like that. I think there’s some apps that are pretty much never gonna go out of style and even as tech advances, there’ll be a reason for it.
But the reason the app works is, using the bank as an example. Online banking still exists. You can log into your bank on your laptop. But you can’t deposit a check.
David: No.
Craig: But you can on the app! And you can do some things on the app you can’t do elsewhere.
David: Missing functionality.
Craig: That’s right. That’s what I wish was the buzzword: missing functionality.
David: So it’s almost like, “I have an app because it solves this functionality.”
Craig: That’s right. And if you go through your phone right now… I mean, I could pull my phone out, I have so many apps that really don’t serve a purpose. The ones that go on the most would be the banking; the Facebook app, obviously, works really well because it serves a function. People want to be on Facebook. Instagram is the app. They don’t even have a good desktop version. So that’s an example of a company that is geared toward the apps. Snapchat: geared toward the app. There’s no real website to speak of.
David: Right, it’s all app-based.
Craig: But how many of your apps did you download and you never really went back to again? And for most small businesses, that would be the usage: once!
David: Or how many apps did I download and realize that all it was was an over-glorified website and the functionality is the exact same? I’m not gonna say, like… I don’t know, I’m not throwing Yelp under the bus or anything like that.
Craig: Yes you are.
David: But pretty much their app is 90% of their website, so—
Craig: It doesn’t give you anything else! It doesn’t take you to that next level.
David: I mean, there’s some login stuff and some other things. But for me, a casual user, I don’t need the app downloaded, I just need to be able to search and I’m happy.
Craig: Games aside—we’re not really counting games under here, because again, those are geared toward a completely different sector of phone usage.
David: And let’s be clear, they use, usually, a language or a coding that isn’t web-focused so you can’t get away with…. You can’t build a website that also supports that and is mobile-friendly.
Craig: Right. Because I don’t want some people to say, “I play my games all the time, those apps are great.” So this is games aside, this’ll be for business.
David: But Angry Birds! You’re not gonna expect that to be a website.
Craig: And you can’t expect the success of an Angry Birds or a Facebook app to your app. And here are some stats that didn’t blow my mind because, again, my position, our position, is to not app. (laughs) To app or not to app?
No, for most people.
Now, have we met some people that have a big concept, a big idea of how they want to distribute either content or build a community with a network and an app makes sense? Absolutely! We’ve talked with people like that. But most businesses, especially local businesses, if you have a brick-and-mortar place, an app is very unlikely to do something for you.
Now, I’ll give a caveat. Let’s say you open up a pizza shop. We’re switching gears. We’re done with sandwiches.
David: (disappointed groan)
Craig: You open up a pizza shop and it’s doing well. And you don’t want to do the old way, with a business card and a punch card. But you’re like, “I want to be ahead of it!” People are using their phones everyday. You develop a reward app just for your pizza. Fine. Maaaybe your fans would use that. But there’s also other companies that already do that that you could have brought on without development costs.
So again, something you could think of is probably already out there. So there’s so many apps and companies that could help small businesses. You don’t need your own.
David: Without all that upfront cost, is what you’re saying.
Craig: Well, let’s talk about that upfront cost. So how much do you think, David, the average mobile app costs to design, build, and launch?
David: On average?
Craig: Average.
David: I mean, I’d probably say…the range, I would say, is like, starting at the $10,000-$15,000 to the $75…so maybe $35,000.
Craig: Well, I’m gonna throw Brian in here too, because— This isn’t one of your questions, right? But you use apps. You have a smartphone.
Brian: Correct.
Craig: What do you think would be the average mobile app cost? Now, again, unfortunately, this does include all apps. So you got games in there, too.
David: Oh, I should have gone a little higher.
Craig: You’re a little— you’d go higher.
Brian: Yeah. You went too high?
David: I went $30,000/$35,000, which I would go a little higher than that.
Brian: Yeah. Because I was wondering about that, too, because when it comes to all the development and everything that goes into it, it might be $50,000.
Craig: $270,000.
Brian: Wow.
Craig: That would be the average. Can some get done less? Absolutely. And some, shockingly—not to me—way more. Millions dedicated to the app. That’s gonna be the Snapchat. That’s gonna be the Instagram. Some of those big games by Zynga, but those big companies? Hundred million dollars for one app.
Now, how many apps, percentage-wise, from 0 to 100%, would you think would be a financial success this year? Of new apps that come out? That means “make a dollar.” What do you think? Throw a percentage out there. This is staggering—
Brian: Probably less than 50%.
Craig: Fair.
David: I mean, I’m gonna go, like, 5%. Maybe—
Craig: .01% of apps—
Brian: Really?
David: I didn’t really want to say “1,” because I thought it would just sound depressing. I can’t believe it’s—
Craig: .01% of apps will be a financial success in 2018. Make a dollar. Now again, some of the big social media ones don’t need to make money to have value. But if you’re a small business, you gotta figure that out.
David: Doesn’t that just say how many apps are out there that are not even successful?
Craig: Oh my God, so many.
David: It just shows that there’s quantity at this point, rather than quality.
Craig: Exactly. The app stores are just flush with stuff you are never gonna use.
These next two I’ll just spout out: 23% of users will abandon an app after one use. I’m guilty. Guilty as charged. I’ve got some on here—MoviePass, Evernote I didn’t really mess with yet, Word Draw…
David: My statistic that I was reading from 2016 said 17-26% will end up…
Craig: Never using it again?
David: Never using it. Use it once.
Craig: So that’s right in the range.
David: So a quarter.
Craig: A quarter of all people that download your app that you might have put a ton of money in.
David: Will use it once.
Craig: Will never go back to it again.
David: Use it once
Craig: And two-thirds of all apps—that’s 66-and-change%—will not even reach 1,000 downloads in their first year.
So again, is your money well-spent, as a small business, in an app? I think this is one of the few episodes where we are taking a strong position on something. It’s a no. It’s gonna be very difficult for you as a small business owner to monetize the app, to make money on it.
Hey. If you’re crushing it and you’re killing profits in the millions and you’re like, “Wow, I really need something on people’s phones.” Go for it. But for most of us small business owners, that’s not the situation. We’re not dealing in the millions and millions of dollars. Thousands, maybe tens of thousands, whatever. Apps cost a lot of money. On the lowest end, using a service that already builds and replicates apps, you’re still gonna be at a couple thousand dollars.
David: Now, that cost for an app, that doesn’t even include the upkeep on it.
Craig: Right? And updates.
David: And updates that you have to do because iOS 8 comes out and suddenly—
Craig: Breaks your app…
David: There’s a black space right at the top part of your phone and that was never there before and you have to now redesign your entire app because maybe that’s where all your functionality was.
Craig: And this may put us in an interesting light for a potential client. I mean, many people in our industry—we own Clarity Creative Group, we do online digital marketing and web development—would say, “How could you say that? There’s so much money to be made in apps.” There is.
People ask about it and we could pull the wool over their eyes. “Oh, it’s $5,000, we’ll get your app going up” and all this stuff. That’s not our position. We know that there’s no long-term value there for that tiny business here in Central Florida to have that app. So we’re not gonna take the money because they don’t understand—and many people don’t—the upkeep, the updates. There needs to be an infrastructure in place to keep that going for it to work.
There’s an entire team of people working on every successful app you ever use on your phone.
David: Right. They’re actively being updated. Coding…
Craig: Right now. They’re coding. Snapchat just pushed an update to everyone. Whether you knew it or not, it just happened. Their entire team is working on that around the clock!
David: Right, and that’s the only way to keep an app successful and going.
Craig: That’s right. Again, there’s a lot of great apps out there. We’re not trying to take anything away from the app marketplace and how valuable apps are. We are huge app users! Most of our tools that we provide per episode are apps! We love apps! We’re just saying that, if you’re a small business owner, that expense can be better used elsewhere.
David: One of the things we talked about, we talked about in the last episode, I think we talked about it in the episode before that, it’s a trending topic, right? It’s the ROI: return on investment.
Craig: Oh yeah.
David: Okay? We talked about the return on investment of a billboard, we talked about the importance of tracking return on investment. I want to say it’s something around Episode 10 that we were talking about that. In the Setting Your Goals, right?
And I think about the return on the investment of an app. And if you want an ROI… If your marketing budget is 10% and that’s good for you and it’s doing what it needs to, but you still need leads, you still need to get out of it, I don’t think you’re gonna get the ROI that’s gonna pay what you’re gonna pay in to an app. You’re not gonna be able to sit there and get what you want out of it.
I think with time and with energy and a lot of legwork, a lot of energy and efforts, you can get an app going. But I think as a small business trying to get there, I think the ROI on it is not as beneficial as so many other things out there.
Even so much as saying that TV commercial or that radio spot or even those old-school marketing ideas. Maybe even a newspaper ad. That might actually have a better ROI for a small business, that I think they’re really missing out on. And I think as a small business, that’s what you have to think about. Less about what is trending or popular or “I gotta get on this because everybody else is doing it” or even because they’re competitor does it, because that’s not necessarily a selling point when it comes to getting new leads, closed leads, and growing your business.
Craig: Absolutely. “To app or not to app” has been the question. Hopefully we’ve answered it for you based on what your small businesses is gonna look like.
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All right, it’s that time where we get into some trivia. Episode 19 was a rough one.
David: Almost one of my favorites.
Craig: David finally, finally, notched a win.
David: You know, at some point I’m gonna remember to actually tally up these wins already so we can put this—
Craig: David, the listeners are tired—
David: …This buffoonery to shame!
Craig: The listeners are tired of you saying what you’re gonna do without any execution.
David: I just recall a shellacking last episode.
Craig: “Oh, I’m gonna do this. I’m gonna do that.” The record shows…
Craig: I have won more than I’ve lost. Brian knows this. In his heart of hearts.
Brian: Probably, but we have to actually go back and get the hard evidence.
David: It might be close. After last—
Craig: You keep saying this. It’s never going to happen.
Brian: It’s going to happen.
David: It’s going to happen. (Craig cackling) Somebody’s gonna take the time. [Transcriber’s Note: I will take this task upon myself.]
Craig: Ladies and gentlemen, we have a light-hearted trivia segment at the end of every episode. Thank you for being with us on Episode 20. Craig won the trivia.
David: No, it didn’t happen.
Craig: What do you mean? It’s already over. (All laughing)
David: Brian, let’s get going so we can—
Brian: All right. We have some questions about some apps.
Craig: He’s trying to breeze through that one. (laughing) Get a quick dub!
Brian: We’ll see here. So this one—and by the way, there’s no multiple choice on this one, boys.
Craig: I like it. I’m so ready for that.
David: Ooh!
Craig: It’s three questions, right?
Brian: It’s three questions. Okay, I know we’re all married men, here, but we all know that dating apps have become very popular.
Craig: Oh yeah.
David: I missed the boat on those.
Craig: Right? Me too! I’m bummed about this.
Brian: Well, I actually met my wife on one.
David: Oh!
Craig: Very cool.
Brian: Yeah.
David: That’s an advertisement.
Craig: I met my wife on a website but not an app.
Brian: Well, it was a website…
David: There was no apps then.
Craig: Right, Match.com didn’t have an app. I actually had a Motorola Razr back then. I don’t know if there were apps then.
Brian: I was eHarmony.
Craig: I was on eHarmony.
David: I was texting on a taco phone with my wife. [Transcriber’s Note: Eleven years ago!]
(Craig and Brian laughing)
Brian: What is the dating app where women have to make the first move? There is a dating app that’s out there and basically what they do is they match you with someone and the woman has 24 hours to either send a message  or the match expires.
Craig: Oh, you actually knew this?
David: I did!
Craig: Why did you know this?
David: (awkward silence) …I’ve heard about it.
(all talking together)
Craig: Oh crap.
David: That’s a good way to answer that without saying—
Brian: So it’s all on the woman—
Craig: I know what I wrote is wrong. It’s not Tinder.
Brian: David?
David: Bumble?
Craig: I wrote “Bumble.”
Brian: It is Bumble!
Craig: Oh crap, I got it right! (laughing) I got excited. I knew it couldn’t have been Grindr, that one’s specific.
Brian: Right.
(David laughing)
Craig: Tinder is swiping. How did you know that?
David: I mean, I guess I’ve just heard of it.
Craig: I did write it.
Brian: There you go, you did.
Craig: I didn’t even cheat.
Brian: I saw you writing…
Craig: It was only— It’s the third one I know. It couldn’t be Tinder, it couldn’t be Grindr. I only know of Bumble. There’s others.
David: Yeah.
Brian: There’s a lot of others.
David: That’s the most popular.
Brian: There’s one like “Coffee and Whatever.”
Craig: See, I didn’t know. That was a getting lucky.
David: It’s like the Sadie Hawkins dance of apps.
Brian: Yes. Basically.
So Spotify has become a huge music streaming service, especially when it comes to their app, right?
Craig: I use it every day.
Brian: So in March of 2016, Spotify had 30 million paid subscribers. That’s March of 2016. How many does it have as of January of 2018?
Craig: Are you giving us whoever’s closer? How is this working?
Brian: Yep. Whoever is closest.
David: 2016 was at 30 million.
Brian: Right. How many does it have as of January 2018?
Craig: Worldwide or USA?
Brian: Worldwide.
Craig: Crud.
Brian: That’s my understanding, is it’s worldwide. But I could be wrong.
Craig: No, it’s a fair question and I just—
David: It’s whoever’s closest.
Brian: Closest to the Pin.
Craig: Closest to the Pin, I think you’re gonna get it.
David: I put 48 million.
Craig: Yeah, you went conservative and that’s gonna work. I wrote 100 million. Because I don’t know.
David: It could have blown up. The worldwide…
Craig: I don’t know, I don’t know.
Brian: The winner is David, but you’re both way off. It’s 70 million. So he’s off by 22…
Craig: Yeah, he’s closer than me.
Brian: And you’re off by 30.
Craig: But I liked where I was at. It was more than double. You said 30 million and it had more than doubled.
David: I was thinking about doubling it, too. I was a late adopter to Spotify, so I thought maybe…
Craig: Oh, yeah, I love Spotify.
Brian: It’s great.
Craig: I mean, I’ve had it for years. It’s awesome.
Brian: Your daily play mix?
Craig: I use that, the daily play mix.
Brian: Yeah, you get three of them, in fact.
David: Oh yeah.
Craig: I’m aggressively on repeat for Hamilton, so…you know.
Brian: Wow.
Craig: Love that show.
Brian: Well, I listen to The Killers all the time.
Craig: Okay, yeah.
Brian: Last question.
Craig: Dammit! David’s up 2-1.
Brian: And you can’t catch up.
Craig: Why not? I can go 2-2. He can get it wrong.
Brian: There’s only three questions!
Craig: Yeah, I know, but I can tie.
David: He’ll tie it. That’s all he can get.
Brian: Oh, that’s true. You guys could tie, okay. According to Apple…
Craig: I screwed that last one up. I went too high.
Brian: …What was the most downloaded app from its app store in 2017?
Craig: Most downloaded app from its app store for 2017?
Brian: Yep. According to Apple, what was the most downloaded app from its app store in 2017?
Craig: Oh no… I used to know this.
Brian: And by the way, I wrote down the entire top 10 here.
David: Oh, can we get multiple choice, then?
Craig: Can you offer multiple points if we get more right?
Brian: No! I want number one!
Craig: (whispering) Stop it.
Okay, so if neither of us get number one, it’ll be closest to gets the point?
Brian: I can allow that.
Craig: Woooow.
David: Okay.
Craig: Most downloads.
David: Yeah, I think I got it. I feel confident.
Craig: I don’t like my answer. I wrote “Facebook.”
David: I put “Snapchat.”
Brian: Closest to the pin is David. It’s Bitmoji!
David: Woo hoo!
Craig: Bitmoji’s number one?
David: That would actually be…
Craig: Yep. Snapchat was more than Facebook.
Brian: Snapchat was two, YouTube three, Messenger four, Instagram five, Facebook six—
David: You gotta think, Facebook’s app has been around for so long. 2017.
Craig: I know, you’re right.
Brian: Rounding out the top ten: Google Maps, Netflix, Spotify and Uber.
Craig: Snapchat didn’t add enough users. I keep reading about that. I guess they did.
Brian: You’re a two-time loser now. Back-to-back, belly-to-belly.
Craig: Episode 19 and 20’s a dark, dark hole.
(Brian laughing)
David: Victory!
Craig: David has won another round of meaningless trivia on IWantBusiness the Small Business Podcast.
David: Listen to Episode 18 and you’ll hear it’s a lot more meaningful.
Craig: Thank you guys so much for listening. Check us out on iTunes. Give us a review. Subscribe. Email us at podcast@iwantclarity.com. We want to hear from you. We’re gonna do some more of this awesome stuff. Stay tuned. Soon—week or two—you’ll get Episode 21, e-commerce vs. having a physical location. We’ll see you then.



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