Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Metamorphosis


  Version 1.0                      Version 2.0                        Version 3.0

All things must change to something new ...

The Mall Chronicles - Day 2

We are marketing our app at the mall. Sounds intriguing, doesn't it? Well, the experience is turning out to be an interesting one as well - something that is challenging our anti-social, right-brain challenged natures, and thus blog-worthy.

How many of us actually notice the care or the artistry that goes into an eye-catching display at a mall? Most mall-shoppers seem very intent on heading towards a destination. This went against our pre-conceived notion that people at malls generally browse and have time for distractions. Given that the typical mall-shopper is focused on his/her task, how does one break into that focus and evoke interest or at a minimum a fleeting glance of attention? While we do get the fleeting glances, thanks to the atypical set-up of our mall booth, how do we convert that glance into an interval of interest in TrulyShare?  Well, each one of us has an idea and we are experimenting with it all - talk about a real life multi-variate test. One thing though is clear; the people who setup these displays and actually manage to break your focus deserve a lot of credit. There is a science to marketing, the fundamentals of which we are guessing at till we can afford a marketing guru!
So what would cause a person at a mall to ignore a booth? The response will vary depending on the time constraints on the shopper, but assume that most shoppers are not exactly in a tearing hurry.

  1. The booth is not exciting enough
  2. People are confused about the offering
  3. We need a cheery salesperson
  4. There is no incentive to stop at the booth
  5. Nobody wants our app

Let me address 5 first. From the few people who have stopped at the booth, we have mostly received positive reactions. The statement can then be true only after we have talked to enough people and yet have no adopters. Further, we absolutely refuse to even think 5 is possible!

While it is fairly obvious that even the ugliest booth and the most useless app would get some conversions if given enough incentive, such a model is clearly unaffordable. So what is the most advantageous incentive to present to the mall-shopper? Again, this is a ridiculously complicated question and I am sure entire books have been written on this subject. Instead, we attempted to address all other hypotheses simultaneously - stochastic gradient descent, anyone?

Thus, the afternoon was then spent in a flurry of visiting stores to buy products we could stage on the booth. Why buy products, you may wonder. Keep in mind gentle reader that the mall cart is unattended for significant chunks of time between shifts. As much as I love TS, I was not going to leave my favorite handbag in the booth without a 24/7 guard. Also, given that we were already at the 40% mark of our mall-cart design budget, we decided to hit up the low key stores. A quick visit to Goodwill turned up some awesome finds - a vintage wooden wine box, a well-preserved vinyl record of the Carpenters, and a very Jessica Simpson pair of pumps. All items were TS-worthy and have been duly archived there as you can see from the photos. By the way, it was interesting how I felt the need to set the stage for these items before sharing it on TS. I hope everybody feels that way about products they share. TrulyShare is not for the ho-hum, everyday products in one's life, it is about the exciting ones, the ones you want to show off, the ones you care about!  We then wanted to create non-tacky display cases for these items. PVC pipes + spray paint from Home Depot and plastic trays from Dollar Tree, yielded some pretty neat display tables. Excited about showcasing these tomorrow!

We also realized that the poster boards we had on display at the booth where too text-heavy. So we had to make the signage big and have as few characters in it as possible. Nobody has the time to read 15 lines of text despite it being printed on glossy paper, laminated and costing us $200 (sigh). This was a lesson learned from the display signs at the stores in the mall.  So it was back to the trial version of PhotoShop to crank out some of these. Hopefully with the staged products and the new signs we will have reduced the effect of 1 and 2.

With respect to 3, the evening shift was taken up by our enthusiastic marketing intern Amy. Boy, did that make a difference! She managed to get 8 downloads going. Amy also felt that to reach certain demographics we should offer some token incentive. Her suggestion was to give away some small item (makeup for the ladies and Starbucks cards for the gents) to incentivize folks to stop at the booth. At $5 cost-per-acquisition, this would still work out to be much cheaper than any of the online advertising methods we have tried. Of course, we need to account for the overhead in our mall cart rental/set-up though. We will give this option a swirl tomorrow. Along with the improved signage for our ongoing $100 sweepstakes and a free t-shirt for a randomly drawn TS user with at least 5 shares - we hope to see a difference. Of course, we could experiment more along this axis as the marketing campaign progresses.

So, we are all set for our re-launch of our mall cart tomorrow! The incredibly tight startup cycles at play again, re-launch on day 2! Look out for our before and after photos and please, the next time you talk to your cousin who does marketing, give him/her a ton of respect! 

Monday, April 2, 2012

TrulyShare 1.2.1 Released

As some of you may know, we have been building TrulyShare for a few months now. The iPhone app is now out and we would love for you to use it to talk up those products you love! We are aiming to get at least 100 active users in the next few weeks so please help us spread the word. Please forward this to anyone you know who would be interested. As always, any feedback you may have on making the TrulyShare experience better and more meaningful is welcome.

Here is a quick primer on TrulyShare and how to use it.

It only works on an iPhone, so sorry if this does not apply to you. Please send it to someone with an iPhone.

Download it at:

What is TrulyShare?
- TrulyShare is a service that makes it easy for you to share products you love with your friends.

What products are we talking about?
- Think things you can buy at a store. Perhaps a pair of shoes you rock, your new laptop, or that cool watch you want to show off--anything goes, as long as you can buy it at a store!

What does it mean to "love a product"?
- Products continually touch our lives. Each one of us have some products we want to talk up, simply because our lives are so much better for it. Wouldn't you want to spread the love for such products and get your friends to use them as well?

Examples of shares:
- You see a cool shirt in a store and want to ask your friends if you should buy it.
- You are absolutely loving your new laptop and want to tell the world about it.
- Your kid loves his favorite ball and you want to tell your friends about it.
- How about that new pan which serves up perfect omlettes?

Why should you use TrulyShare?
- It's Your Product: You have something to say and we want to help you say it.

- AND, TrulyShare allows you to tag a picture with the product details so your friends can easily purchase products you recommend.

So, how do you TrulyShare?
- This is as easy as 1-2-3-4.
- Step 1: Capture It: Take a picture of the awesome product you love and tag it.
- Step 2: Say Something: Write a short caption for your picture to say why you love the product.
- Step 3: Simply Share It: By e-mail, on Facebook, or on Pinterest.
- Step 4: Wait for the love from your friends to roll in!