Use tools like Test Flight to share early versions of apps for feedback to iterate on.

By Shelly Kramer (Founder & Chief Imagination Officer, V3 Integrated Marketing)

I did an interview at SXSW for the Social Media Clubhouse with friends Lucretia Pruitt and Maya Bisineer related to developing apps targeting moms. The session topic was “Leveraging Moms as a 360 Dev Cycle to Better Your Social App and User Base.”

This was a topic near and dear to all of us. Maya, Lucretia and I are all deeply involved in the digital space, including app development, app product launches, marketing apps, testing apps, blogger outreach for app developer clients and the like.

Maya is the creator of MemeTales, a marketplace for children’s picture books along with a super compelling gamified e-book reader for kids. So Maya lives, in a myriad of ways, some of the things we discuss in the interview. Maya has worked as a software developer, architect, and consultant in large corporations for a number of years and launched Memetales in 2010. Lucretia’s an ex-programmer and CIS professor turned digital media/social media consultant and is now in full-on startup development mode on a product that I can’t wait to see her bring to fruition. And then, of course, there’s me – and you’re reading my blog, so you either already know me or can easily nose around and learn more.

We’re all moms. And we’re all moms who use apps on a daily basis, for and with our children.

And the best advice we’ve got – for developers of any app targeting moms or parents — is really pretty simple – include us in the development process. From the beginning.

Don’t assume you know what we want or need, or that we’ll agree on what you think is cool and/or what we can (or can’t) live without – especially if you’re not a parent. I’m not dissing people who aren’t parents – but the truth of the matter is, you have no idea what parents need until you are one.

So, some of the things we think are most important if you’re developing an app that targets a mom user base:

  1. Identify. Identify influencers who love tech and involve them early on in product design. Keep them involved and up-to-date on the product.
  2. Ask – and Give Them – What They Need. If you expect that mom bloggers are going to be your best marketers, ask them what they need in your product that will make them want to share your app/product. Do this early in the process, before your app is in its final dev stages. Often you’ll find the things you think are critical aren’t the things that are important to them. This is your chance to get it right – the first time.
  3. Early Access. Use tools like Test Flight to share early versions of apps and let your users enjoy early access to features if it makes sense.
  4. Listen. Listen to their feedback – they know more about what they want and need than you do! This often the most difficult thing for dev teams to do, but also often the most critical. And by the way, if you ask for their feedback in an insincere way and/or don’t listen when they provide it, well, that’s pretty obvious. And more than a little rude. Do you need to be reminded that these are the very people (and audience) the success of your app depends on? And if they love it (your app) and you, they’ll go to great lengths to help you be successful.
  5. You Get What You Pay For. Shocker! If you’re hoping that mom bloggers are going to comprise a significant part of your marketing ‘team,’ build compensation into your marketing budget. Don’t always expect bloggers and brand advocates to work for free. Like you, they enjoy eating. And they really enjoy being compensated for their assistance if they are working to market your product (or app) to their communities.
  6. Be Gracious. Give credit where credit is due. When you talk with customers, do PR interviews and/or write blog posts and/or share information in the social media realm about what’s going on with your app, give those people involved in the dev process credit for their contributions. Let them take ownership. Let them know how important they are to you. And don’t even try blowing smoke – it’ll never fly with this group.
  7. Be Honest. Keep communication open. Don’t alienate this group of influencers by disappearing (see “blowing smoke” comment above) if you find you need to change your product, strategy, etc. This a group of people who expect and appreciate honesty. They know that sh*t happens and they’ll be your biggest advocates – if only you treat them with respect and honesty.
  8. Support Them. Support them any way you can. If your team of blogger consultants has an idea, listen to them. If they bring you an opportunity and a well-thought out plan that might be something you’d not considered, trust them, and let them make it work. This is often an intrepid group of entrepreneurs in their own right and they might well think of things that never occurred to you – but which could go a long way toward making your app a roaring success.

Okay. That’s a lot of what we covered in the interview, but I’ve embedded it here so that you can give it a listen and see what I overlooked. We would also love to hear your thoughts about involving moms in the development process and what kind of experiences you’ve had. So c’mon … bring it!

This post was originally posted at V3.

About the guest blogger: Shelly Kramer is the Founder and Chief Imagination Officer of V3 Integrated Marketing and Kramer & Co, both headquartered in Kansas City, MO, and doing business with clients all over the world. A 20+ year marketing veteran, she’s a strategist, brand builder, deep thinker, information junkie, communicator extraordinaire, buzz builder and lover of all things related to digital marketing and social media. Follow her on Twitter at @ShellyKramer.