Technology

From Thin Mints to Seafaring, Groups Pinpoint Audiences with Apps

By / Mar 5, 2013 (Stockbyte/Thinkstock)

What do Girl Scouts, sailors, and taxi drivers have in common? Their organizations have pinpointed what customers or members want in a mobile app—leading to better brand visibility, higher sales, and increased member engagement.

“If you’re going mobile, your need to really understand your audience.”

That was just one piece of advice from Bob Panger, senior director of information systems at the American Marketing Association, at the Emerging Technology Trends conference in Chicago last month.

Whether you’re implementing responsive web design or creating a new mobile app, you need to know who you’re trying to appeal to and what they find valuable, Panger told attendees at the conference, sponsored by TMA Resources, Inc. “So if you go [mobile], it’s going to be something that they’re going to want and that they’re going to use.”

How can you do this? Here are three recent examples of industries building mobile apps around what their customers value.

The Girls Scouts of America, in what might be a dream come true for Thin Mint lovers everywhere, recently launched a new mobile app that uses geolocation to find the nearest Girl Scout cookie booth.

“We don’t go to every single retailer, so there were a lot of people who just wanted to know where they could go” to buy cookies, Girl Scout volunteer Melda Carter told Biz Report.

Building on the success the Girl Scouts saw last year after instituting mobile payments for cookie purchases, the Cookie Finder app provides mapped directions, as well as dates and times, to locations where troops will be selling their trademark goodies.

The Cruising Association, which provides resources for more than 4,300 cruising sailors, launched an app to help its members better navigate the seas. With the Captain’s Mate app, members can view thousands of industry cruising reports—which include information ranging from an out-of-position buoy to marina restaurant reviews—as well as upload their own reports.

The British association has seen the number of reports received quadruple since the app’s launch last year, and five times as many members are uploading reports.

The Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association, though it has not created an app of its own, is encouraging its members to adopt mobile technology as soon as possible.

TLPA CEO Alfred LaGasse told USA Today that mobile apps allowing people to track taxis and other transport vehicles are a confidence builder for customers.

“Consumers simply like seeing the vehicle and knowing approximately when it will pick you up,” said LaGasse. But he warned that apps should not be a requirement, “because transportation clientele come from all walks of life and not all have smartphones.”

Have you identified ways to provide something valuable to your members in an app? Share your ideas in the comments.

Correction: Due to an editing error, the original version of this story incorrectly identified the sponsor of the Emerging Technology Trends conference. The conference was sponsored by TMA Resources, Inc. Associations Now regrets the error.

Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. More »

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