In this episode of Out of the Box, our host Jess Overton, Director of Demand at ironSource Aura, sits down with Peter Fodor, Founder & CEO at AppAgent. AppAgent is an award-winning strategic and creative marketing partner for top mobile brands and game publishers.

They discuss the importance of storytelling in your app, building a bridge between your brand and your narrative, and how to leverage user motivation to build a consistent brand. 

Storytelling will take the mobile space by storm

“It's a natural evolution and it comes with the need to stand out from the crowd. If you think of app stores like Walmart, for example, it's a huge marketplace where consumers can easily get lost - there are so many choices."

"Strong brands and storytelling can help people navigate and find the right product, be it an app or a game."

Peter Fodor, Founder & CEO at AppAgent

"Stories are important for the human race. It’s how we learn and understand our world. Stories are also very easy to remember. 10, 12 years since the app store launched, with tremendous competition, storytelling is a way to differentiate yourself and help customers find your app and give the consumer a strong reason to invest their time and eventually their money into what you’re offering.”

Getting closer to classic TV commercials

“When you are just starting out, let’s say you’re launching a new app or game, you can start with very basic ads - showing the product in action and demonstrating what you’re offering. It’s a sort of demo. This will serve its purpose for some time, but then you will see it’s not working anymore - you have to add something on top of that. So, you start adding in emotion through catchy openers or 3D elements to enhance the impression. 

Again, at some point, this is not enough and you need to move to the last stage where you incorporate storytelling. You have to create something that shows the true reason for the app and create some emotional and deep connection with the consumer. This is probably closest to classic TV commercials - telling a story and only in the last second revealing the product.” 

Narrative starts before the first line of code

“Your narrative starts before writing the first line of code."

- Peter Fodor, Founder & CEO at AppAgent

"As a developer, game designer, or product manager, you should define why your product exists, why it’s different, and why people should give their time. You should also understand your audience and their motivators. You can then take this product division and audience insight and create a compelling, unique selling proposition. That’s the core of everything that follows. 

Then you’re developing the brand around it. Once you have the brand, you’re developing a more elaborate narrative. Your narrative is what you’re saying and your brand is who you are. They’re very connected and need to be aligned… 

I very often start conversations with potential clients asking the basics - why they started, what’s the vision, where this whole thing is heading in the future. I try to get back to the roots and if it’s not in place already, I build the brand and narrative together with the developer. So the creative team can jump on something tangible and come up with ideas that match the vision of the developer.”

Consistency is vital

“The brand is the core. Even if you’re not actively developing a brand, you have a brand based on how the product looks, how it feels, what you are posting on social media, what your founder is saying on a TV show, for example. All of these pieces create an impression. This impression is basically your brand. You either develop a brand by coincidence or you're actively nurturing your image and how you want to be perceived."

"Based on this foundation, all of the pieces of communications, be it a post on Instagram, your store listing, the display screen in the ad, the ad on Facebook, should speak the same language."

- Peter Fodor, Founder & CEO at AppAgent

"From the consumer standpoint, they will see a couple of things on their journey - maybe two or three touch points. They are building a mental image of who you are, what you can bring to their life, how you can be beneficial to them. Therefore, consistency is vital."

Leveraging user motivations to broaden your reach

“If you understand the motivations of the consumer early on, you can build a game around it. You can keep it in mind while developing the core game loop. Later on, this serves greatly when developing ads. If you have a specific motivator in mind, it basically defines the concept - for example, how can you show that in Clash of Clans, you are dominating by partnering with other players? That's what makes people the most excited. Or when you are advertising your strategy games, it could be about creation and building this feeling of developing something from nothing. All of your creative concepts should be connected to these core motivators and then they will click nicely with the audience… 

Very often, we have, what we call, branches. For Clash of Clans, there’s some motivation for domination. At the same time, there’s motivation to feel part of a community or a team. You can have different branches that you're exploring. By that, you are broadening your target audience because there are players who are really into being in a group of players and want to collaborate together. At the same time, you can attract another segment of users who want to be the very best no matter how much it will cost. This is the way to get more players.

There’s a framework by Facebook on this - The Big Catch Playbook - with recommendations for UA managers that are heavily connected to user motivation.” 

It all starts with digging deep into your audience

“It all starts with digging deep into your audience, asking them good questions, and even being prepared to meet them face to face or jumping on a video call to ask them tons of "why" questions to understand the true reason they’re using your app."

- Peter Fodor, Founder & CEO at AppAgent

"I think simplicity and clarity over time is what many teams miss because they have fomo. They see a trend, or a fake ad, a new approach, a high-performing ad, and they just go and copy. Using this strategy they will become a “me-too” product. Who cares about “me-too” products?"

Out of the Box marketing

“We are running internal sessions called creative sparks ran by our Creative Strategist Anna Steinke where the creative team summarizes the best performing and most creative ads for the past month. We always have a section that goes beyond mobile marketing and Anna spoke about Oatly at the last one...

The brand they’ve built over time is so inspirational. It’s funny, quirky, very bold and situational. I recommend our listeners to Google “Oatly Slush.” Two years ago, I listened to their Chief Creative Officer, John Schoolcraft, on how to crack consumer marketing without the marketing team and there are such great examples of how to make big moves with little budget and win consumer’s hearts. You’ll be inspired for the rest of your lifetime.”

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