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App-Easing The Not So 'Smart': Smart Phone Technology For An Unlikely Audience

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App-Easing The Not So ‘Smart’: Smart Phone Technology For An Unlikely Audience

You would think that there are almost no people out there now in the Western World that don’t regularly download apps and even less that don’t have a smartphone.  I have the privilege of working with both farmers and technology in Ireland and can assure you that the above statement is far from true. This post is a quick advice guide on how to help introduce smartphone technology into the life of someone who’s not convinced that they can benefit from it.

Myself and my colleagues had this exact situation.  We knew that farmers would benefit massively from going ‘smart‘ with their handsets and using apps for two reasons:

  1. they love mobile phones as they can talk and text on the move
  2. their work requires huge amounts information regardless of the sector e.g. a tillage farmer needs detailed weather information in order to know when to sow or spray etc.

Traditionally, farmers were not great with desktop technology but the smartphone provided the opportunity for them to get techy with familiar hardware.

Smart Phone technology for an unlikely audience

We learnt a few key lessons about how you introduce smartphone technology into even the most unlikely of audiences and help them to genuinely benefit:

# 1. Make sure it’s not TOO smart

Make sure that your selling points are about the features and what they deliver for the end-user, not about the technology behind it and how they are delivered.

Related: Native, Hybrid, Mobile Enabled, Facebook. So Many Types Of Apps, But What Are They?

# 2. Social Media and Email

Are the members of the audience regular users of social media?  If so, download these apps for them and make them aware that they have been using ‘apps’ all along.  Explain that the simplest of programs like Microsoft Word are applications and that this new word ‘app’ is just a term for application.  No need to be super techy to understand this one

# 3. Personal: News, sport and most importantly specialist interests

Find out what kind of interests your audience have.  e.g. what sports do they like? Which is their favourite team? Now get them to download apps for that team, film or whatever they are into.  If they think there’s fun in it for them they will bite.  Now just tell them that your app is also just like this, except for a different purpose.

Related: Nine Tips To Prevent Your App Becoming A Needle In The 600,000+ Apps Haystack

# 4. Productivity: Saving Time and Money

Find out something that they hate doing.  Is there an app that helps them to save money or increase their productivity.  The goal is simple here, just show them that apps can save time – it’s not just necessarily another time consuming exercise in addition to their core tasks.

# 5. Ease-of-use

When explaining how to use the app, ensure that you explain why it is designed in a certain way.  If they buy into a design process, they will naturally feel more comfortable exploring your smartphone app e.g. we based the layout of our app on the control panels found on machinery and in milking parlours.

# 6. Not another device necessarily

Simplify the smartphone itself for them.  There is nothing overtly complex about the smartphone.  It is just an evolved version of the mobile phone.  Sending and receiving emails is no harder than sending a text.

Related: Using An App for Marketing: Appland Thinking Harnessed By RedOakSnap

# 7. Durability

A perception we come across all the time is the perception among some of the public that smartphones are just not durable, have terrible battery life and are less reliable.

  • If someone refuses to go smart, you can’t get them to use your app.  While the perception is not totally unfounded, tell them to go smart and simply charge the phone every night while asleep.
  • Also, Motorola has an ultra hardcore waterproof Android smartphone called the ‘Defy’.  This is a fantastic option for those that need something more rugged and work outdoors.

# 8. Redundancy of mobile phones

The old feature phone is becoming redundant.  It is inevitable that everyone will have to go smart at some stage.  If talking to someone who’s finding it hard to let go, tell them they have to make this move at some stage, then introduce your app as an example of the advantages of smart.

Related: Building An App Into A Business: An Interview With Lisa Domican Of The Grace App

# 9. Android vs. iPhone

Don’t talk operating systems to people who don’t talk that language.  iPhone vs. Android vs. Windows etc. is intimidating and a shocking amount of people try to sell their app using this jargon to the non-believer.

Can you add to this post? How do you create an incentive to make people ‘smart’? Let me know.

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Image: “Many smart phones with application tiles on their touchscreens/Shutterstock

ME: Marketing Manager, SaaS; co-founder of; Social Media Junkie; MSc in Strategic Management; Opinions my own and they may offend (not intentionally of course).

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  • I think your point on ensuring that it’s not too smart is a critical one – techies are often guilty of creating stuff that no one wants or understands, other than themselves! 🙂

  • Great Post! I sympathise as we work in similar contexts – i.e. not so tech savvy audiences sometimes and they are not easy to reach online- thanks!

  • The point about inevitability is interesting (#8). Ireland is going digital TV by the end of this year, so a non-digital TV will simply not work.
    For now, we can still use the old style phone for calls and texts, but as you say in your article Connor, once anyone realises the benefit of apps and smartphones in general, they will come round.
    My friend declares herself technophobe, yet has discovered Boggle on her new iPad. This has given her new confidence with a piece of hardware that she thought she would never “get”.
    Great points 🙂

  • Thanks Elaine.  That’s it. It really is inevitable – they can run but they can’t hide

  • No worries Elish – if you’re ever looking for some advice on how to push the offline to online just holler!

  • Lorna, in work are launching an ideal smartphone for your hubbie called the Motorola Defy.  It’s Android but also ‘farm-proof’ i.e. pretty much waterproof; dust-proof and shock-proof.  In terms of your idea, well done! That’s great.  We need to do a coffee soon so I can pick your brains in getting a greater understanding of how technology could aid you and your husband on the farm! Would that be OK? 

  • Me included sometimes! 🙁

  • Hide like an ostrich?? I have just seen this – 49% of Irish population own a smart phone. Some more interesting stats here too –

  • Thanks for that Elaine 🙂

  • You should read the Money Bubble by John Rubino and James Turk.

  • Thank you Sian, for the invitation to do this #TYBSpotlight. It was fun and interesting to do. As for you recommending the service, bring it on, Mark will be very happy with the extra business.

  • Hi Kathryn, these are great insights that many originations could learn from. There seems to be an attitude in some quarters that you can fake/engineer authenticity but customers are too savvy and will see through this so it’s got to be real. The key as you say is to “strive for progress not perfection”.

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