Rob Shoesmith: From binman to iPhone app entrepreneur

The old adage goes that everyone has a book in them. These days, everyone has at least one app in them too.

Rob Shoesmith's app concept, Problem Halved, allows users to post their problems to a network. Fellow app users can then comment and ultimately resolve the issue. Problem Solver has seen hundreds of downloads this year, reaching the number two spot on the UK iTunes app chart.

"I was one of 12,000 people to send in an idea," says Shoesmith. "I wanted to come up with an idea that was scalable but also helped people. It was such a lucky break. I knew that if I'd tried to get the app developed on my own, and told people I was a binman, no one would even look at my idea."

Now the binman has turned app marketing maverick, championing new apps and pushing for a MEDL Mobile alliance, a sort of union for app developers.

But are there more apps waiting to burst out of Shoesmith's imagination? "Definitely," he says. "I would like to start my own business one day and make them all happen. But for now, I'm in no rush. It's about making contacts in the industry and learning all I can. I've discovered I'm pretty good at marketing apps and I really want to repay MEDL Mobile for giving me that crucial first chance."

Here are Rob Shoesmith's top three marketing tips for small businesses launching a new app:

Reach out on twitter

Twitter is one of the best ways to connect with the press. A lot of the time you're dealing with a saturated market; technology journalists get loads of media requests from app developers. Find individuals on Twitter, see what they are already talking about and submit a relevant comment. People are more responsive on Twitter when their email boxes are full of spam.

Collaborate

If you are launching an app at the same time as another company aiming for a similar demographic, join forces. It much easier to cross promote apps across a network. That's the idea behind the MEDL Mobile alliance.

Plan

Always prepare the marketing plan before you launch the app. Lots of developers are great at creating the technology but they have no marketing knowledge. You need to have a hitlist of sites, publications and journalists prepared. You want to target them while the app is brand new and fresh. Not a month later when the buzz has died down.

Find out more about Problem Halved

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