There's an App for That

My iPad

A couple of years ago, my kids put the full court press on me to get them an iPhone.  It actually became a game that got a little out of control.  The on-going conversation was best summed up by the phrase: There’s an app for that!

Here’s how it worked.  Each kid would take turns asking a question.  For example, Dad are you dating anyone?  I replied I just met a nice person and before I could get another word out of my mouth, one child would say, don’t worry, there’s an app for that.  Need to know how or when to break up?  Yep, you guessed it, there’s an app for that!  And on and on it went.  It was a moment in father-son relations that I shall never forget.

The kicker is little did I know that they were right!  If an application can be imagined, it exists.  In fact, in the two years that have passed since my kid’s got their iPhones, the proliferation of apps continues at a record pace!  Apple’s app store saw 20 billion get purchased just in 2012 and is about to cross the 50 billion threshold.  Start browsing around in the App store and let me know what you find.

But the other day, I experienced a new wrinkle while I was using my “Waze” GPS app that truly caught my attention.  As I drove by a Taco Bell, I received my first geo-fencing advertisement right here in Boardman, Ohio.  I was shocked!

Geo what you say?  Let me explain a bit more.  The technology exists for a business to set up a digital footprint to communicate information to passing consumers who have smart phones or tablets.  You see these phones are GPS enabled.  In a recent article that appeared in Business Insider, there is an estimated 770 million of these phones in existence today.  When your phone enters a specific geographic area, you can now receive a text message only for a product, service, or a coupon designed to capture more business.

Now my imagination was set on fire.  I began to ponder the opportunities to utilize the combination of smart phone technology and apps for brand development and marketing.  Drilling down even further, I thought of some exciting possibilities for political campaigns and mortgage banking.

Politics:  Elected officials, candidates, and political organizations have begun to use social networking and apps in limited ways for messaging, fund raising, and negative advertisement.  Now, a unique opportunity exists to take it to the next level!

First and foremost, use a combination of new and old media, to brand a candidate or party platform around an area of expertise or voter identification.  We live in a world where information is communicated in 140 character tweets, Facebook posts, links, QR codes, and now geo-fencing texts.  Modern information sharing tools can easily be used to break down complex issues into digestible reports that inform and retain the interest of voters.  Op-eds, emails, blogs, and video blogs should be used to provide more detail for those readers who desire greater information.  This approach will cover all age groups.

Second, why not think outside of the box and talk about your personal life such as favorite cooking recipes, fishing expeditions, what inspired you to public service, and your life improvement goals.  The member of Congress who represents the district in Ohio where I live, Representative Tim Ryan, posts all the time about the importance of mediation in his life.  That’s perfect!  You may or may not agree with Mr. Ryan on all issues but I bet you will find his thoughts on mediation to be of interest.  I hope someone starts posting about their yoga practice next!  And please, engage your audience and comment on other pages, retweet tweets that catch your interest, and direct message your followers.  There is a digital world to engage so why be shy?

Both of these points can be accented through the use of videos published on YouTube.  I know the tendency is to use professional grade productions.  But there is plenty of charm in making your own video’s and truly talking directly to your constituents or voters right from your living room or office at anytime of your choosing.  Just think of the possibilities after a big vote in Congress and you want to explain your position in a five minute or less video?

Mortgage banking:  Mortgage bankers, with few exceptions, use interest rates as the sole way to separate themselves from the competition or engage potential customers.  Or even worse, I hear ads by Quicken Loans that emphasize speed to closing.  Whatever happened to being thorough?  In either case, interest rates or loan processing speed are hardly what a company can use to brand a business.

Here are some ideas worth considering:  Identity Theft Avoidance, Loan processes, and Economic Information.  Becoming an expert in any one of these three areas will separate yourself from the competition.  Nowhere will you find a single mention of interest rates or normal mortgage banking jargon.

Imagine how a client will react when you are seen as the source on how to avoid and recover from identity theft.  Likewise, the loan process mortgage bankers know like the back of their hands– from application to funding — is truly a mystery for most borrowers.  Informing and teaching your clients how the process really works can help address the one complaint loan officers here the most from their clients  — a lack of communication.  Economic data is everywhere and yet unfocused at the same time.  You do not have to be an economist just use the social networking tools at your disposal.  Articles from Flipboard should do.

In short, your imagination may well become your biggest ally in terms of keeping your pipeline full of quality loan applications.

While there is an app for nearly everything imaginable, nothing will replace a well thought out digital strategy to engage people from all generations.  Remember younger folks live and die by the information that they receive through their smart phones, tablets, and apps. Twenty-first century information technology is just like the rock and roll music of the 1960’s, and 70’s for our generation that caused such a stir with our parents.  We may go crazy watching them text, but the fact is they are light years ahead of us.

For me, it will always be a passion to keep up with change.  I personally hope the next time I visit Washington, DC that I  I get a geo-fencing message from Rep. Tim Ryan welcoming me back to the Capitol Hill as I drive past the House office buildings.  Or better yet, to let me know of an important debate on the House floor.

I bet there’s an app for that!

Author: Robert Katula

What say you, the people?