Happy New Year!
Occasionally on this blog, I like to write about stuff that doesn’t directly relate to helping you with your health and fitness.
As you’ve probably noticed, one of my favourite fitness endeavours is running. I actually just signed up for the Toronto Goodlife Half Marathon, which takes place May 4, 2013…my 6th half marathon.
Anyway, I haven’t posted articles as much as I would have liked the past three months. Part of the reason is that my time has been consumed with a project.
My idea for an app to help runners with their fueling was born in June of 2013. Since August, I have spent lots of time focusing on creating, designing and figuring out how the app world works. I did hire a developer to make the app, but regardless…it took up much of the time I usually allocate to this blog.
The app is called Fuel My Run. If you want to check it out, it’s available for iPhone (and hopefully Android in the spring).
This post highlights some the lessons I learned and thoughts I had after going through the app creation process.
Let me know what you think.
Marketing is Tough
I am a science guy and really wish there were was equation like E=mc2 for marketing. Truth be told, I don’t know that I’ll ever be great at marketing. From what I have read, listened to and learned from my super smart wife (she works in digital marketing) – marketing is about communicating your product or service’s value. It’s also identifying and connecting with you customer. It’s about telling a story.
So when I had the idea for an app to help runners fuel properly, I took some time for deep thinking. Why does marathon runner really want? Do they really care about how much fuel they take in during a race?
No. But runners do care about being the best runner they can be, finishing a race strong, maintaining their pace late in race and avoiding the dreaded “wall”.
Theodore Levitt said it best when it comes to this idea of your customer wants.
“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole in their wall!”
Simple is Hard
It’s extremely difficult to keep things simple.
In the early development days of Fuel My Run, I made a massive list of features I thought were necessary.
Time, distance, pace, split times, maps, integration with lots of popular running apps, social sharing capabilities, login via Facebook, altitude, interval calculations – the list went on and on. Then, top this off with the fact that I hadn’t even addressed to main point of the app – fueling!
More features, more features, more features…hold on!
I took a step back and created two lists. Essential features and “maybe later” features. I got a lot of clarity from this process. Fuel My Run would include a beautiful clean design and these basic running features (plus the fueling aspect):
- Average pace
Simple is hard.
Tell People What To Do
Figuring out how the fueling aspect was going to work was a bit trickier. Again though, I got some great advice from my wife and Jason Fitzgerald of Strength Running.
People want to be told what to do. Hold their hands.
What an epiphany this was for me.
With this advice, I developed two sample fueling plans to get runners started. A half marathon and full marathon plan.
People Will Interpret Things Differently
When I came up with the three different types of runs a user could choose, I thought I had figured it out. I had “Quick Run” for those that wanted to go for a run of any distance, without any fuel, sample plans for half and full marathoners and a reminder mode where a user can create a custom fueling plan for their upcoming race.
I received a text one Sunday morning from a friend that was testing the app out for me. He told me he entered his fuel, but the timer would not start. Crap.
Turns out, he didn’t read the instructions for the type of run he was trying to do. And this guy is a tech-savvy runner dude. If he didn’t get it, did I have to go back to the drawing board?
Thankfully I didn’t, but his experience certainly made me re-visit the instructions I created in Fuel My Run.
Never as Good, Never as Bad
I launched Fuel My Run on December 3, 2013.
I had a press release, emailed a boat load of contacts and The Next Web had agreed to write a short blurb about the app on launch day. Bingo!
This seemed all pretty good to me. At a price of $1.99, who could say no? Turns out, a lot of people.
My sales on day one, when I was hoping for 500 sales, turned out to be a measly 35.
$47.94 in profit.
Initially, I was pretty choked.
As time went on the day after the launch, I started feeling much better. Me, an exercise-science, fitness-geek with no marketing or business background whatsoever, created something that 35 people thought would help them become a better runner. Cool.
It got even better. I received an email from a couple of people that had questions.
One guy had diabetes and thought my app might be able to help him manage his blood sugar during his runs. He and I went back and forth a few times over email and I provided him with my ideas of how Fuel My Run could help him.
And that’s when it hit me. Sure sales and money are nice, but helping a runner do the thing they love, to their full potential – now that means much more.
Sure, another $500 in sales on launch day would have been awesome. But who cares. Impact and helping matter more.
I’m glad the launch of Fuel My Run reminded me of this.
Are Paid Apps Dead?
Before building Fuel My Run, I asked some readers/subscribers to complete a survey. One of the questions asked how much they would be willing to pay for an app that would help their fueling. 15% of the respondents said that they would find such an app useful yet they would not be willing to pay anything for it.
I am not sure if this is a reflection of the times or that some people simply don’t value digital products or services as much as they say they do.
I found it interesting that 76% of all Apple App Store revenue in the U.S. was generated using in-app purchases (source). Also, 91 of the top grossing top 100 apps are free to download and then make money using “in-app-purchases”.
Will Fuel My Run ever go free? Truthfully, I am not sure.
The app cost me just over $6,000 to develop and I would like to recover those costs. I feel that it certainly adds more than $1.99 in value to a runner and with that, it’s a bargain.
Over To You
What are your thoughts on using apps for health and fitness? How much are you willing to pay? What are your favourite health and fitness apps?
Leave your comments below.
Thanks for reading.