Tag Archives: Funding

Share the Love With Our New Referral Program

2 Apr

Are you an existing client who is looking to save money for your organization or add new services, like native apps? Have you been wanting to launch a new tour but haven’t quite had the funds? Now’s your chance to save! We’re excited to announce a new referral program for you and your colleagues! Introduce a colleague and everyone saves when they sign up for our service plans.

OnCell TourSphere App & Audio Guide Referral Program

Do you have a referral for us? Fill out our form today, and as often as you like!

Local Publishers: Selling Ads for Mobile

9 Oct

Publishing isn’t an easy road in 2012. At TourSphere, we speak to lots of publishers looking to diversify their revenue streams, provide more robust advertising options and provide different products for their  readership. In fact, eMarket predicts that mobile ad spending for 2012 will hit $2.6 billion — 80% more than the spend in 2011.

One area that local publishers are finding cost-effective is creating mobile tours that align with the content of their local newspapers, magazines or tourism publications. By providing this accompanying mobile tour, publishers can highlight advertisers, special events or locations around town — and can be appealing to both regular readers and tourists, depending on the content in the app.

But how to best monetize this type of app? With advertising, of course. A mobile tour app that accompanies a newspaper or magazine has the advantage of having a built-in stable of advertisers, but how do you convince those advertisers that adding to their package with mobile makes sense?

If you’re putting together your mobile advertising media kit, we’ve got some great statistics and ideas for you to include.

  • Mobile offers multimedia opportunities. Because TourSphere is equipped to include photos, audio and video, you can create a multimedia ad for your advertiser. Promoting a local restaurant? Geo-locate them directly on your interactive map and do a one-minute video interview with the chef. That is powerful advertising.
  • Mobile offers measurability and feedback. Through a TourSphere app, your advertiser can get customer feedback, or just check out the analytics of the app to see exactly who is utilizing it and from where. The visibility and measurability is a standout trait of mobile advertising.
  • Mobile puts you where the customer is. According to TMP Marketing and Comscore, 75% of mobile searches have local intent, and 37% of local mobile searchers visit the advertiser. A Texterity study showed that 40% of mobile users have made a purchase as a result of a mobile ad, and XAd shows that 52% of mobile ads result in a phone call.
  • Mobile demands immediate action. Mobile Marketer recently found that mobile coupons get 10 times the redemption rate of traditional coupons. And while 70% of online searchers will take action on an ad within a month, 70% of mobile searchers will take action within an hour.

Are you selling mobile advertising? What are your selling secrets?

How to Create a Demo App in 20 Minutes (for free!)

23 May

A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.

— Steve Jobs

Ok, you love the idea of a mobile app for your organization. You pitch it to your ED and get a mildly positive response. Now you are faced with a decision: Let the idea die – or grab it by the horns and make it a defining project of your career.

Life is short. You go for it.

As Steve Jobs points out in the quote above, one of the best ways to get your Director, Board or staff excited about a mobile app is to show them a real-life demo of your museum app. When you show them a demo with some real content that they can see and play around with, it can light a fire in their mind and get them excited about the potential as you are.

One of the great things about TourSphere is you can actually build and publish a demo app – for free! Here’s a way to do it in less than 30 minutes:

Step 1: Pick two Points of Interest (POI) at your museum or site to feature in your app

Step 2: Create a TourSphere account for free and upload a digital image (make sure you are cleared to use them for this purpose) for each POI. If you already havae audio or video clips about the piece that will make it even flashier – but don’t let it stop you if you don’t.

Step 3: Write 2-4 descriptive sentences about each POI in TourSphere.

Step 4: Hit “Test” and check out your beautiful new app on your smartphone.

You can tweak it and fine-tune it and republish it immediately to see how it looks. Once you’re happy with the way it looks and works, you show up to your next staff meeting, present the demo, pass it around for everyone to oooh and aaaah over… and then you make the business case for your app.

I built this demo app in less than 20 minutes with TourSphere.

Making a Business Case for Mobile Apps in Museums

17 May

Much has been written recently (herehere and here) about museums having a difficult time adopting mobile technology. The consensus seems to be that although everyone agrees mobile guides are awesome and make a lot of sense for museums, the actual adoption of mobile apps in museums has been a bit slow.

Perhaps it is time to make a business case for mobile apps in museums. While it is true that museums do not (and should not) operate as businesses much of the time, there are certain circumstances that might benefit museums to think through problems with the same criteria that businesses do: THE BOTTOM LINE.

Let’s face it, if you can show that a mobile app is either going to make $$ or save $$ then the chances of getting the project funded, approved and launched quickly is exponentially higher.

So here are 7 business considerations for determining if  a mobile app makes sense for your museum (for the purposes of this post I am going to refer to visitors as “customers”):

  1. Replace an expensive audio guide contract: Does your museum have a contract in place that is currently costing thousands of dollars per year in licensing, equipment maintenance, or staff time? If so, switching an old audio guide into a mobile app may save LOTS of money in the long run.
  2. Lower demands on staff: If your app can answer questions (i.e. “Where are the restrooms?”), cut down on the staffing needs (consider cutting back on the number of live tours given daily) or ease the burden on your staff, then guess what? You are saving your organization $$.
  3. Increase the time customers spend at your museum: The longer each customer spends in your “store” (museum) the more revenue you are likely to generate – via eating onsite at museum cafes, shopping in the museum store, etc.
  4. Generate buzz among customers: If customers have an exceptionally good experience, they tell their friends about it, the tweet it, post and ultimately they act as evangelists for your museum.
  5. Mobile Apps engage those elusive 25-35 year-olds: How many meetings have you sat through where the topic of an aging donor base has come up?  If you can engage them now, they will grow up to be your future donors and patrons.
  6. Increase Memberships and/or Donations: By providing a link to your membership or donation page within your mobile app you are providing users with a way to directly support your organization monetarily. Including it in your app allows customers to make a donation even after they leave your site.
  7. In-App Surveys allow for direct visitor feedback: It’s expensive (and invasive) to have people milling about your museum with clipboards in hands asking visitors questions.  If your app can do this on-going you will have a better data set and won’t have to pay extra for it.
Have you tried to make a business case for mobile in your museum? Was it successful? Chime in with your thoughts and opinions.

Photo (C) 2009 Andreas C Randow

Funding Your Mobile App: Grants, Sponsors & Private Donors

18 Aug

One of the most stressful issues facing museums is: What to do with all of those extra funds lying around… right.  If you’re like most organizations,  the first question that usually comes up when you begin thinking about a mobile app for your museum is, “How on earth are we going to find the budget for this?”  So I thought I’d share how some of our clients have funded their mobile apps.

The good news is, if you want a mobile app for your museum, you can find a way to get outside funding to make it happen.  Grant sources are out there and they want to help museums and cultural organizations embrace technologies that attract a new generation of visitors.

Private donors:

It may come as a surprise, but this is actually the most common way our clients have  funded their mobile apps.  Here is how it usually comes about:

The Education or Interpretation team gets really excited about getting a mobile app for their organization.  They present it to the Executive Director or a Sr. Executive and everyone agrees – this would be AWESOME!  So, now you have internal buy-in.  Typically, the concept is then presented at a Board Meeting.  When making this presentation it is imperative that you make a solid business case for it – it’s not just about using the latest technology trend in your museum.  It is the fact that Mobile Apps engage visitors on a deeper level, keep them in your museum longer, appeal to the 18-35 audience and tell your museum’s stories in an awesomely emotional format.  You can also mention that launching a mobile app often results in lots of PR and media coverage (here, here, here and lots more…).

If you want to give your Board a real feel for an app, you can even create a demo app. You can create one for free using TourSphere in less than an hour, and then let your Board play around with it themselves. In our experience, giving them a real, functioning demo is way more effective than saying “it’s gonna be so cool”.

There are usually 1-5 people on the Board who LOVE the idea and say, “We NEED this.  Let’s find a way to make it happen.”

Ask your Board to get the word out to their network of benefactors and/or donors to see if anyone would be interested in funding this project.

In our experience it’s not uncommon for a Board Member, a patron, or even a volunteer to get passionate about the idea and want to underwrite the entire thing.  The cool thing is that you can then put the donor on the tour as part of the content (either as the donor or simply as a “lover of the arts”) and you can give them the option of being recognized or not in the audible credit, “This mobile app is made possible by the generous support of….”

Grant sources:

If you’re in the early planning stages of your app and you need a big budget, a grant is an option for you.  Most grant organizations require a lengthy application process, but if you’re thorough, patient and diligent, it can pay off.  Here are a few grant sources which our clients have used to fund their projects in the past:


Although corporate budgets are tighter these days than they were a few years ago, mobile media is an exciting industry and many organizations are willing to put a portion of their advertising or sponsorship dollars towards mobile initiatives.  Sponsors can be integrated into the app in a variety of ways (without hijacking your visitors’ experience):

  • Short video clip within the app
  • Logos on appropriate screens within the app
  • Audible mentions at the beginning or end of an audio tour
  • On maps and brochures accompanying the mobile app
  • On earbuds or lanyards

You get the picture. You can be as creative or as conservative as you want in finding places to promote your sponsor without disrupting your patrons’ experience. Your marketing department is usually aware of the larger, generous businesses in your area.  I recommend getting together with your marketing department, sharing the mobile app concept with them and working together on a plan to approach appropriate organizations in your area about a sponsorship.

So, there you have it.

Getting outside funding is not only possible, it is very common – and can be a great career-booster.  You bring an awesome project to fruition and learn about accessing outside funds – something that (in my experience) is useful no matter where you work or what you do.

If you are interested in more details and hearing exactly how some of our clients have funded their tours – give me a shout and I can connect you directly to our clients so you can ask them yourself.

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