Don’t be left behind like so many companies were when the same thing happened in eCommerce.
It seems like only yesterday that people were raving about how easy it is for anyone to start their own blog, build their own website, or communicate through social media. As we move into the dawn of the mobile age, though, there is a new tool to contend with that has been turning the old concepts of marketing upside down: apps.
Affordable mobile devices are spreading like wildfire, and thanks to improvement in both device technology and in the infrastructure and networks that make them useful, mobile phone use has eclipsed desktop use. Naturally, huge companies have begun to target this exploding market with mobile apps, but can the same be said for smaller businesses? Are they being left behind?
As it turns out, not at all.
Smaller, leaner companies are now launching their mobile apps right along with their back office and eCommerce sites
Large, well-funded direct selling companies are getting out-maneuvered by punchy startups that are offering a more advanced mobile tool set with communication, social media assets, and prospecting tools that no one would think they could have so early. They look BIG, while making their larger, more established direct sales competitors look like they’re behind in the times.
What’s the result?
Do you remember Borders Books? How about Blockbuster? Or Mervyn’s? Have you ever even heard of Mervyn’s? These companies and countless others were late to leverage emerging technology made available by the democratization of the Internet. Their leadership got comfortable with doing what made them successful in the past, instead of investing in the technology that could take them into the future.
The results were disastrous.
Of course, it wasn’t a disaster for everyone.
Both the newcomers and established companies that understood the power of the cultural shift saw that the tides were changing and invested in their Internet presence. They realized where customers wanted to get their information and entertainment, and where they wanted to do their shopping.
Today, the pendulum has swung so far over that most people would think you were crazy if you suggested that your business doesn’t need a strong Internet presence. Even if you were just running a lemonade stand, they would assume that you would fail, and they would probably be right.
Now, that same transition is happening with mobile platforms. Today, many direct sales companies are launching their company’s mobile apps at the same time that they launch their company’s website and back office tools. It has become a staple of every intelligent startup.
These young companies are demonstrating an incredible ability to adapt quickly while leveraging the mobile apps that their distributors need and want to grow their businesses.
By doing this, they are leveling the playing field with the larger and more established direct sales companies.
Your distributors and customers will see this. They will wonder why this new, creative startup is able to give its people a company-branded mobile app and your corporate team somehow can’t. They’ll begin to view you as a lumbering old dinosaur, too blind to invest in what the market obviously needs.
In direct selling specifically, we see many companies that are late to the game. They don’t want to move too fast for fear of getting it wrong. They claim that they don’t have time or resources because they believe they need to focus on a website or back office software project instead.
Maybe they simply believe their older demographic can’t really handle the tools and won’t be able to make use of a company mobile app.
This is simply not true anymore, of course. Every American demographic is growing its use of mobile apps exponentially. In fact, the average social gamer is a 43-year-old woman. You never really think of a middle aged housewife playing Candy Crush as a hardcore mobile user, but it’s true.
Is it too hard to implement a mobile app
from a technical standpoint?
The barriers are mostly mental. Technology is very user-friendly these days, and creating your company’s mobile app is just as easy as building a strong eCommerce presence or a social media presence.
My daughter’s soccer coach has a mobile app to communicate with the team parents, show practice and game schedules, and share individual statistics. My friend’s church has their own mobile app where they share sermons, study guides, and schedules. If they can do it, your company certainly can, too. There’s no real excuse anymore.
The BIG lesson we learned from the democratization of the Internet, is that we simply cannot afford to sit still and take no action or we risk being overtaken by new startups that have nothing to lose by adopting technologies early.
We must innovate aggressively and create a corporate mobile app for our stake holders.
Your distributors expect a mobile app from your company, and the longer they don’t have one, the more that sense of doubt creeps in that they might have signed up for what will become the next Borders Books. They might start thinking about jumping ship to one of your younger, leaner, and better-looking competitors.
“There is an app for that,” as the saying goes. Don’t be left out.