Lisa Gordon spent two decades at the top of her field in advertising sales for newspapers and magazines like Time, Real Simple, Prevention and Entertainment Weekly. When her industry took a particularly hard hit as the economic climate worsened, she realized that she needed to reinvent herself, add to her skill set and move forward without looking back. Lisa’s transformation took her from old school, traditional communications to the new high tech and cutting edge world of app development. We caught up with Lisa recently to ask her five questions about her reinvention process.
Your background is in print advertising sales and sales management, how did you make the leap to developing mobile apps?
I spent more than twenty years in businesses related to ad sales. When I started
working in the 1980’s I was in a thriving field with no end in sight. I could
never have guessed what kind of atrophy would occur this many years later.
When my oldest son went to kindergarten I was experiencing a lot of personal
upheaval and was in the fortunate financial position to take some time off to be
with my kids. After three or four years I started thinking about getting back to
work. By this time, newspapers and magazines were closing all over the country.
It was clear that I could not go back to a vanishing industry.
I had had my own business for ten years so the idea of going back into business
for myself was a very attractive one. Having some time off gave me the insight I
needed to break from my rut. I contacted a former colleague and we
brainstormed ideas for more than a year. With an idea in hand, we consulted with
a dear and successful friend who gave us direction. In the end, our app has
nothing to do with any of our original business ideas.
What do you find to be the biggest challenges in starting over in an industry that is not just new to you, but new in general?
Actually the easy part is starting in a new industry. I embrace the challenge of
learning something new. The difficult part is the fact that the industry is new.
There are no real experts yet. The app industry is growing at an exponential
pace. It seems like everyone is learning by trial and error and what worked last month, won’t necessarily work this month. Being part of this Wild West is fascinating to experience from the inside.
For the most part it was born out of necessity. My partner and I both have young children and I have an aging father. Just through our kid’s activities and my dad’s caregivers, new people, acquaintances, really, come in and out of our lives regularly. These people are important to us, but sometimes it is just hard to remember all of the names and how we know them. It can be embarrassing to keep asking people to repeat their names. As a regular user of my own app, I have seen how good it makes someone feel when they are remembered.
You and your partner both have marketing backgrounds. Can you share your thinking on how you’ll go about marketing your apps?
One very interesting thing about this app is when people see it or hear about it they
instantly know how they would fit it into their own life. And, everyone thinks they
are our demographic. The truth is, nearly everyone with an iPhone is our
demographic. As exciting as it is to have the millions of iPhone users as possible
users, such a broad audience is hard to reach. So, we have broken down the possible
users by category and are targeting them individually. So for example, we speak to
“mom” targets differently than we do to our Boomer targets. We will often break
those targets down even further so we can speak directly not generically.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into the mobile app business or any new business for that matter?
- Start with a great idea, but be flexible as to how it can work as an app.
- Get a basic understanding of the app business and the available platforms before investing any money.
- If you are not technical, hire the right people who are. If you are not good at marketing, hire someone who is.
- Never get comfortable with the way things are because they will change.
Both NameCatcher and NameCatcher Biz are available for download at itunes and readers can find more information about the company, Catcher in the Sky, on their website.