The Web For Business.com Blog

Internet marketing observations, perspectives, tips and tricks for your education and enlightenment.


To App or Not to App

Mark Kawabe - Monday, June 30, 2014

When I get asked the same question a few times in a week, I figure I should post the question and answer to my blog.

Thank you to all who asked this week's question: "Should my business have an app?"

In short, my answer is: It depends.

What do you want your app to do for you?

An app that is its own product (think Angry Birds) has a purpose. An app for your business is probably not a product in and of itself. It will more likely be an extension of your business that will make it more efficient in some way to deliver your existing products or services.

This means it will be more beneficial to ask yourself a question different than "do I need an app". The better question is "what information do I want to display and/or collect through a mobile device?" The follow-up question to this is "am I already displaying and/or collecting the information I want through mobile devices?"

From my perspective, those are the basic questions you should ask.

Some additional questions you may want to consider:

  • Do I have a budget to create an app?
  • Can I truly create value for my clients through an app?
  • Will my customers actually care enough to install and use my app?
  • Will I be able to keep my app updated?

Your customers probably aren't clamoring for a new icon for their smartphone. Your app has to matter to them by creating value. Whether you can translate that value into increased goodwill or sales is another question entirely.

The old adage of "Just because you can doesn't mean you should" comes to mind. An app (like a website, a blog, your social media presence etc.) is not a one-time investment of time and energy. My suggestion is to use the tools you have to the best of your ability first before venturing off into new territory. Unless there's a strong business case to be made that says the app is more important than other fundamentals, you'll probably be better served by sticking to the (mostly underutilized) basics of online and mobile marketing.

Did you miss me?

Mark Kawabe - Monday, March 12, 2012

Hopefully, but probably not.

Why would I think that?

I'm a realist.

There are thousands of demands on our attention every day.

Are you seriously going to miss a week of my blog?

Probably not, but that's not the point.

If I didn't blog regularly, you'd RARELY or NEVER notice me.

Blogging regularly gives me an opportunity to have your attention for a moment. Perhaps a little longer if you choose to read the full post.

Apply this idea to your own business. Would people miss you if they didn't hear from you?

Why? Why not? And what are you going to do about it?

My advice: if you're in business for the long haul, then start and keep at a blog or a Twitter feed or an e-mail newsletter or at least SOMETHING that keeps you in touch with your audience.

Gain people's attention by providing value over the long term. When they're interested in your services, they'll know who to call first.

Just my $0.02 for this gorgeous March Monday.

Read this - and act on it! - before your next Facebook post!

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, October 11, 2011

If you're in business, here's a question for you to ponder before your next Facebook / LinkedIn / Twitter post:

In what way will your post build relationships, enhance trust and create value in your readers' lives?

The litmus test: If it won't, don't post. Think of something that will. Then post.

Repeat every time you post : )

Have a happy Tuesday!

Your Enemy is You

Mark Kawabe - Thursday, September 02, 2010

This is related to my earlier blog post about how search engines don't owe you anything.

A client and I were discussing a local company that has managed to crowd out the first page of Google results for a variety of keywords and phrases. My client asked what could be done to compete with this company in Google. Two ideas came out of that question.

One: The "Problem" Might Not Be a Problem

When I did some checking into the popularity of the keyword phrases in question, it turns out there were very few searches registered in Google. In other words, the competition was dominant for phrases that few people used in their searches. Fighting to get a top ranking for an infrequently-used keyword phrase is probably not worth my client's effort.

Two: Doing Nothing Is Not an Option

I strongly encouraged my client to do something with his website. Small businesses don't have a ton of time to keep sites updated. Those who do can gain an advantage over time in two ways. First, the search engines will have more content to crawl so their sites will be more likely to show up for a variety of searches. Second, the HUMANS who come to their websites will be more likely to do business with them if the company has a helpful website - which requires content. Doing a little bit of SOMETHING consistently is better than consistently doing nothing.

Our worst enemies are ourselves. Doing the right things for ourselves takes effort. Just ask anyone who's tried to start and stick with a diet or exercise program. You can make a big difference with small efforts over time. Starting today, what will you do to make a difference in your business?

How much does a website cost?

Mark Kawabe - Saturday, March 27, 2010

What is the cost of a website?

In my opinion, websites shouldn't cost anything. Your website should be a tool to grow your business. If it's doing that, then it's an investment.

If it's not, well, then you should be calling us.

Do You Know Your Sushi?

Mark Kawabe - Monday, March 22, 2010

My dad's a 2nd generation Japanese Canadian. As you might suspect about a guy with this heritage who grew up on the west coast, he knows when his fish is fresh and he knows his sushi. He reminds me that the word "sushi" means "vinegared rice". "Su" is vinegar, "shi" is rice. Pretty simple stuff.

Most restaurants that serve sushi don't have any discernable taste of rice vinegar in their rice. My dad comments that they're not really serving sushi - it looks like it, but you can taste the difference. Most people haven't a clue this is even an issue.

That's the way it seems to be for almost everything these days. We can look at something and think we know what it is - like sushi - but really, we don't have a clue whether we're getting the real deal or something that looks like it. Seeing all the happy people chowing down on sushi in the local all-you-can-eat sushi restaurants, it makes you wonder why it's important. After all, people are happy not knowing the truth, aren't they?

It's gotta be tough to be a trained sushi chef in this world of cheap sushi. These chefs spend years learning their craft. They make the honest-to-goodness product. That's great, but the average consumer doesn't know enough about their craft or the product. The all-you-can-eat sushi places are hopping while the restaurants that sell the more expensive authentic product have empty seats.

Does this sound vaguely like your market? It should. As entrepreneurs we face this dilemma every day. Somewhere, somebody is offering something similar to your product or service for less money. Your challenge is to communicate your value powerfully to the people who will actually care about what you have to offer.

No matter how well you know your sushi, if your market doesn't know what goes into real sushi you need to get to work educating them about the product. What makes your tuna roll better than the one at the all-you-can-eat place? Why does it make a difference that you use snapper instead of the cheaper tilapia? When prospective customers know why you offer more value than your competition you'll get more business. Without education your prospects can't make an informed decision.

The internet gives all businesses access to the same tools but the tools are meaningless unless you can communicate your value clearly and effectively. If you're not doing this now, you can get started right away by looking at your existing marketing and comparing it with your competition's. See how they are communicating their message and look for ways you can improve yours. Keep looking with a critical eye at your approach and over time you'll come up with ways to make your message stand out from the crowd.

Start now.

Get Your Head Out of Your Ass

Mark Kawabe - Monday, March 22, 2010

You are so the same as everyone else that nobody cares.

"But wait - I'M DIFFERENT!!!"

So, how exactly are you different enough that people SHOULD care?

I'm waiting...

...still waiting...

...and waiting.The truth is most of us are lousy at communicating our differences which is a shame, because it's the only thing that's really important. We let potential customers assume we fit the "standards" of our industry and since we've co-operated by colouring inside the lines like everyone else, there's nothing special about us to make people go WOW!!! Yep. Guilty as charged. Me too. Been there, done that. Perhaps I'm still doing it.

But today I'm taking a friend's advice and taking my head OUT of my ass, giving it a shake and looking at myself and my business with a more critical eye. Change is happening all around me anyway, whether I want it to or not. If things are going to be different and better, change had better begin with me.

Or in your case, you. I hope you're enjoying the view and the fresh air. Now get to work on making things better.

For those of you who hate Mondays and want to procastinate until Tuesday or Wednesday when you're in a better mood, the good news is you're right. It CAN wait. The better time to start is now.

Happy Monday!