How My App Got a TV Spot – iPhone App Marketing

I never anticipated that the app I developed, Shake a Snack, would get a spot on television (as archaic as it is), but it did, and I thought I’d share some thoughts on how you might be able to get similar coverage, whether it be on TV or on the internet.

The app was featured on a Dallas TV station in an ‘App of the Week’ spot. They talked about the app and showed a demo of it using a YouTube video I had posted. I think the folowing factors contributed to the coverage:

  • Issue a press release. This was my first time issuing a press release, and I am now kicking myself for not having done it before for my startup’s DVD releases and other notable events. I think this is how the TV station found my app. I chose to use PRWeb for press release distribution, and opted for the most expensive option, ‘Advanced Features Plus.’ I later found out from PRWeb support that the ‘Advanced Features’ option will reach pretty much the same audience and media outlets as the ‘Plus’ option. The main difference is that you can’t add a video to your release. Even though I chose the ‘Plus’ option, I didn’t include a video, so I guess I wasted a bit of cash there. Lesson learned.
  • Give Your Press Release a Title That Evokes Curiosity. The title of my release was ‘New Snack App Helps Curb Visits to the Drive-Thru.’ Not having done much promotion before, I was pretty happy that I came up with this title. Notice how I did not even use my startup name or app name in the title. At first this may seem like a bad idea, but what if I had said ‘JuggleFit Releases Shake a Snack App.’ Would anyone really care? The media is looking for a story, something that can help them get their job done under a deadline. JuggleFit is not a household name (yet!), and the app name, while catchy, wouldn’t really draw anyone to click on the title either.
  • Keep Your Press Release Title Short. I don’t know the perfect formula for this, but I looked at all the press release listings on PRWeb and noted how many characters were displayed in the title listings – around seventy. I wanted my full title to display, so I kept it under that limit and used forty-nine characters. Of course, displays on other sites and news wires have their own character ranges, so keep it as short (and sweet) as you can without sacrificing the quality of the title. Reporters are pretty busy, so I would think they quickly scan the titles of releases. If you don’t grab their attention immediately, they most likely won’t read the release.
  • Make a video demo of your app available. While I didn’t add a video to my press release, I uploaded a video demo to YouTube and also placed it on my app info page. I’m guessing that without the video, the station might not have covered it. They used the video in the spot and did their own narration on top of it. To make my demo, I downloaded the Camtasia free trial and recorded my app running in the iPhone simulator, narrating as I stepped through the app features.
  • Contact as many app review sites as you can. While I think the press release is what got the TV station’s attention, there’s a chance it might have been the review of Shake a Snack on the front page of 148apps.com. It seems plausible that the reporter doing the ‘App of the Week’ spot might go to that site and pick one of the apps for the feature. 148apps was one of the many review sites I emailed, closely following their instructions and suggestions posted here. I did email them a promo code, since it seemed like they were one of the top review sites. In the first line of the email, I said ‘Here is a promo code for Shake a Snack.’ I recommend providing the code up front to the top review sites (unless they explicitly say not to) since it makes it pretty convenient for them to download your app right then and there. There are a bunch of review sites out there, but here are a couple more to get you started: AppCraverThe Unofficial App Weblog, Appmodo.
  • Create an app with a wide appeal. Let me first say that, I think you should create the app you want to create, whether it has wide appeal or not. Shake a Snack was something I was passionate about, and had been talking about doing for a while. I finished coding it before doing any research on marketing an app. However, I do think the fact that my app addresses the needs of a wide audience, namely, healthy eating and simple recipe solutions, might have influenced it’s being covered in the TV spot. While I intended for my first app, JuggleFit Tracker, to appeal to a wide audience, it does not and will not until I succeed in making my startup a household name. However, it does appeal to the niche juggling crowd, and has done well without any marketing. But as you can see, it would never get on a TV spot at this point.

Here are links to the TV Spot and my marketing efforts up to this point:

Shake a Snack TV Spot
Press Release
App info page with the video demo.

I will try to keep the buzz for Shake a Snack going by continuing to email app review sites, as well as magazines editors and bloggers. I may even try a few TV stations….

For more detailed information on marketing your apps, I would highly recommend The Business of iPhone App Development: Making and Marketing Apps that Succeed by Dave Woolridge. It has a comprehensive list of app review sites, advice on writing a good press release, and other ideas for creating quality buzz. I haven’t yet come across anything in the book mentioning how to get your app featured in a TV spot, though!

If you have any other tips for iPhone app marketing, I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

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