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Getting awareness and organic downloads for an app is hard.

Really hard.

So if you’re trying to get downloads for your app, the last thing you’d probably think of trying is to create another app to promote your original one.

But that’s what I just saw a company pull off with a lot of success.

So let’s take a look at what they did…

A few days ago, I saw a tweet from the founder of Calm, an app that helps with meditation and relaxation.

An app that can tell how many times you check your phone sounded like an interesting and scary idea.

I was really curious to see what my number would be so I went ahead and downloaded it.

When I went to the App Store page, I was surprised to find that Checky was actually made by Calm. Now this is the only other app to be produced by Calm, and at first glance they are seemingly unrelated, so naturally I became interested in what they were up to.


I gave it a download and opened it up. And at the bottom of the screen was an ad for Calm.  I watched it for a minute to see if other ads would swap in, but the ad never changed. This was something to take note of because unlike other apps, which will rotate in ads from various companies, Checky only shows banner ads for Calm.


Really? An App to Promote Another App?

That’s because they aren’t trying to make money off of Checky by having ads for other companies.

They’re using Checky as a way to get free advertising for Calm.

It’s the most basic example of cross promotion.

At first glance creating a new app in order to get more downloads for your other app may sound like the worst. idea. ever.

It’s hard enough to get exposure for an app, why would you build another one?

But hang in there with me, we’ll get to that.

There has to be alignment

Checky aligns with Calm and it’s genius. It’s not just a random idea that they thought would garner a lot of traction. It complements their core business mission which is – to help busy people learn to relax and be mindful. And making you aware of how often you are on your phone helps feed into the desire and need to become more mindful of your actions and energy.

This strategy obviously doesn’t work if you create a separate app that attracts a different group of people who completely differ from your core “pocket of people.”

Why do they need Checky? Why not just focus on the Calm app.

For one, it has a much higher “shareability” factor than their core app.

Most people aren’t going to post to their Facebook or Twitter about the meditation track they’re listening to. But thousands of people have used Checky’s pre-populated Tweet to share how many times they checked their phone the day before.

This leads to more people discovering Checky, and as a result Calm.

Calm is more helpful and something a real business can be built on, but Checky is more viral.

Checky is so hot that it just got featured on Colbert and a handful of other news shows. In terms of shareability and free press, Calm could never compete.

Turning Checky Downloads into Calm Customers

So how do they translate Checky downloads into more Calm downloads and customers?

The banners are a start.

But they can do more than just having a basic banner ad at the bottom of the screen.

They could see if you’re checking your phone a lot and send targeted push notifications that say “You’ve checked your phone 140 times so far today. Feeling stressed? Download our other app Calm for a short relaxation break.”

But with that strategy you would have to walk the line there where you aren’t annoying people with notifications or you run the risk of people deleting it.

Can you pull a Checky?

This is a good strategy for apps and other software businesses.  Kiss Metrics, an analytics software for businesses, did something similar with their free mobile app for tracking Google Analytics data.

Now, they aren’t going to get national press for a Google Analytics app, but among their target market it spread pretty quickly.

They say that books are the business cards of consultants and speakers.  I see basic, high-utility apps becoming the business cards of software companies. Tweet it

But it doesn’t even need to be an app.  And you don’t have to be a software company.

AdWords expert and marketing consultant, Perry Marshall does this extremely well.  He builds tools that complement his business, help his customers and bring in new people to “Planet Perry.”

In addition to his new book, 80/20 Sales and Marketing, he launched 80/20 Curve is a complementary resource to the book and serves as a high-utility tool that people will get a ton of value out of and share with one another.

He also created this split testing tool that shows you if your A/B tests are statistically significant or not.

What would a small, light weight app or tool look like that aligns with your business and solves a single problem for your customers and prospects?

Build that!


me-in-circleBen creates + optimizes advertising campaigns on social networks to drive leads, sales and downloads.