It’s Not Always Easy Being an App Marketeer

A short while ago we decided to see if we could do more for education in hopes that it would extend the iPad’s reach in schools even further and in the longer run give us a broader platform for selling our apps. As we have written about here on our blog before, we have already started an App Evaluation Program for Schools but we wanted to more.

After some thinking we came up with an idea were we would offer local elementary schools a one week partnership with Happi Papi. The schools would get half of all our revenue during a period of one week in exchange for sending home a flyer about our apps in the kids’ backpacks.


No No-Brainer

To us this should have been a no-brainer for the schools. The school would push quality learning apps made especially for elementary school students by a local company. Even though we thought this fact alone would make the schools interested we went ahead and offered them the revenue split deal as well. On top of that we also designed a special contest where parents and kids could solve special Happi Papi rebuses together and win free apps for a year.

We decided to start with a school where one of our daughters goes to Kindergarten. That should be an easy sell, we thought. Well, since this story has become a blog post with the title “It’s Not Always Easy Being an App Marketeer” you might have guessed it already. The school did not want to be a part of this! We were so flabbergasted when it dawned on us that the school wasn’t interested that we had to write a blog post about it.


Reality Bites

Therefore, here is a story of what can happen when good intentions meet reality. Disclaimer: There can be many good explanations for why it happened the way it did so we are not going to name any names here. We’ll simply call the school Bruce Willis Elementary. It should also be noted that this happened in the US. It is almost guaranteed to be different in other countries.

When we approached the school we did not get a no right away, quite the opposite actually. The person in charge of these type of things, let’s call him Mr. Pink, said the school would definitely be interested in partnering with us, it just needed to figure out how to channel the funds.

Mr. Pink promised to get back to us shortly but after two weeks we had not heard from him. We figured that two weeks was a long time even in the academic world and tried to give him a call. No answer – voice mail – we left a friendly message. A week later we still had not heard from Mr. Pink so we tried to give him another call with another little voice mail as a result. Over the next two weeks we left Mr. Pink 5 more messages (a total of 7). We also asked for him at the school’s front office and even emailed the principal. Still no dice.

By now it was obvious to us that the school was trying to make us go away. You see, we had asked the school once before to be a part of Happi Papi’s beginning app endeavor by letting us shoot a video on the premises. Also that time we were promised a prompt answer but never heard back from them. Disappointed and disenchanted we asked, through a note to one of our daughters’ teachers, for our sample flyer back since it had some original game ideas on the back (the parent/child contest). Eventually we were told by Mr. Pink that the flyer “had been destroyed” and that Bruce Willis Elementary was sorry it had not been able to get back to us “in a timely manner”.


Lessons Learned

So, what is a small development company to do when its good intentions are not met with the same enthusiasm and commitment that went into coming up with those good intentions?

Well, in our case we wanted to do something more than just write a whiny blog post. After some brain storming we agreed that we would continue targeting other local schools but also do a little bit of guerrilla marketing at Bruce Willis Elementary!

Therefore, from now on, we are taking every opportunity we can find to unofficially promote our apps at Bruce Willis Elementary. So far we have:

Sent the whole class Happi Papi cup cakes on one of our daughters’ birthdays:

And for Easter we responded to a donation request from the school by sending in eggs stuffed with specially made Happi Papi stickers for the class egg hunt:

Next we are planning on volunteering at the school book fair all dressed in Happi Papi T-shirts. Feel free to post your great ideas for us to realize in the comments below. We promise to post pictures :-)

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  • kristin

    I like your idea of guerrilla marketing!

  • Lisa

    I can understand a bit about the school but not the fact that they didn’t give you an up front reason. For example, I manage an iPad cart for my school. One week of a free app to test out is not a very long time. First I would have to load the app on all the iPads (I only do this once every few weeks because it is time consuming.) Then I suppose I would have to take it off again in a week. Not sure how this works. That is a major hassle for a short gain of a product.

  • Eileen

    In the town where I live, the PTO does fundraiser nights at local restaurants once a month or so they go to a different restuarant & the restaurant agrees to give 10% or so of sales for the night to the PTO (parent-teacher organization). The PTO makes & reproduces fliers that go home with students teling them to go support the PTO by gonig to XX restaurant on XXX night. The restaurant benefits by having more sales on a typically slow night (it’s usually a Monday or Tue night), the PTO benefits by getting a donation from the restaurant. Perhaps if the schools in your area have organizations like this, they would be able to partner with you.

  • Helen

    Working in public schools, I can see that there might be some red tape in trying to work that deal, but the administration at that school is/was really sorry. They should have been open about what the perceived problem was and perhaps you both could have profited after all. My school usually jumps at the chance to make money! Continue to do what you are doing and keep the lines of communication open. If you happen to have the opportunity, perhaps you might speak with the superintendent …maybe another school would be interested, or maybe they will explain the problem from their side. Good luck! Love those cupcakes!

  • Erin F

    I think our school would love to participate. Can we get more information about it?
    I love your educator program! I blogged about your Evaluation Program for Schools today on my teaching blog.
    Thanks for the great apps!

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