App Friday: My Little Suitcase

Welcome to App Friday, our weekly link exchange of family-friendly apps. Today we are featuring My Little Suitcase, a kids app created by three parents in Northern California.

What is the game about?
In My Little Suitcase, kids get to choose a trip, pack their stuff, and then head out to the beach, snow, camp or a sleepover. The game, intended for children ages 2 to 6, is centered on a travel theme in hopes of encouraging exploration.

Why is it special?
We like that kids choose which items to pack in their suitcase, giving them a sense of independence for their virtual trip. We also enjoy seeing their curiosity develop when they ‘replay’ a trip with a different set of items. How will the beach scene look now? How will it be the same or different from the last trip I packed? This type of experimentation spurs the ultimate goal, which is to get the kids to imagine their own trips and destinations.

What’s in it for me?
Our team would like to grow this game over time, featuring new items to pack, and new trips to explore. To get your feedback on how to make this the best possible travel game for kids, we are offering FREE DOWNLOADS FROM THE APP STORE ON FRIDAY, MARCH 19th. So go ahead, give it a whirl and let us know what you think.

App Friday Link Exchange
Do you have an app to share, either a personal favorite or one you developed yourself? Please, post it in the link below! This way, visitors can see a variety of apps for kids and families. Include your name (with app name) in the Link Title, your email, and a URL to the app. I’ll go ahead and post the first example of an app we’ve been using a lot lately – Arithmaroo!

10 Ideas for Marketing Your Apps

This post was written by Lorraine Akemann of Keeps Me Smiling, and creator of My Little Suitcase. She is one of the founding members of Moms With Apps, and supports interactive, educational, and non-zombie technology for kids & families. She’s kicking off the launch of this site with a subject that is forefront on her mind…Marketing Your App.

While I am pleased with the progress of My Little Suitcase, I wish I had gone out of the starting gates a little differently. Marketing your app in a store with hundreds of thousands of apps is tricky. If you are thinking of creating your own app, here are some points to consider:

1. QUERY THE EXPERTS. I recently read Crazy Mike’s iPhone App Marketing eBook. For someone who is new to app marketing, I found the book and the case studies insightful and genuine. They share real information on how top apps like Pocket God and Paper Toss cultivated a following. The book also covers topics like effective iTunes store descriptions, email marketing, PR, social media, etc. Required reading for anyone who wants to have a shot at getting noticed on the App Store. In addition, I’ve started following an industry blog from AppsMarketing.Mobi. They feature interviews with developers, and write columns on industry trends. By digging in with experts, you can acquire marketing knowledge in advance of launching your app, which ultimately may result in a more successful app.

2. KNOW THY APP STORE. Whether you are launching on the iTunes App Store, on Blackberry’s App World, or some other Google Android platform, learn how customers search for apps, and how the apps get listed on the store. Try and find out what drives the “What’s Hot List” or “Staff Picks”. Understand how you can be seen amidst 100,000 other apps. What are your categories and how have you listed yourself? You can make changes along the way, so don’t hesitate to run experiments to find out what works.

3. INCLUDE SOME EDUCATIONAL APPEAL. From the perspective of family-friendly apps, if I’m downloading anything for my kids, I want it to be good for them. Highlight the educational value of your app. There is a growing market for kids apps – it’s very hot – but it needs to be good for you too.

4. MAKE IT LOOK PRETTY. Have great graphics. There is too much competition to have crappy graphics. Making it look polished and professional is a minimum requirement.

5. LAUNCH IN ADVANCE. You don’t need the app to be complete before you start your marketing efforts. Build buzz with social media in advance of your launch. Apps like @Arithmaroo and @Tales2Go did an excellent job of this.

6. REVIEWERS ARE YOUR FRIENDS. Read the app review blogs. When it’s time to go live, these folks have the audience you need. Keep track of their posts, submit comments, find them on Twitter, and when it is finally your turn to submit your app, follow their instructions carefully. They are busy people.

7. NETWORK WITH OTHER DEVELOPERS. The most significant benefit of this past quarter has been connecting with other parent iPhone developers. From them, I’ve recognized benchmarks for successful apps and marketing practices. Kudos to our forum here at Moms With Apps.

8. GET PROFESSIONAL WITH YOUR WEB AND SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE. Apps are their own little marketing engines. An appealing springboard icon that can double on your Facebook and Twitter profiles provides an integrated digital portfolio (@MomMaps is a great example). Having this all organized on a homepage with links to your blog, YouTube demos, and customer testimonials is a nice touch.

9. DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF YOUTUBE. Video is powerful. Video reviewers are probably more powerful. Getting a handle on this universal channel should be tops in terms of my 2010 priorities.

10. THINK LIKE A GAMER. This is my most recent addition to the list. It’s the gaming industry that has the highest volume sales and top-rated apps. Me, being a stodgy old parent, entered this industry in her slippers. Time to find that leather jacket and innovate some sharp and savvy marketing techniques.

More ideas? Leave a comment. Let’s go make the ranks!