Gaining marketing experience from scratch: The Rob Shoesmith story

May 11, 2011
Tech

The growing market for mobile device applications has changed the way some businesses promote products and services to customers, and it has changed another thing too – the way some marketing professionals break into the business. One example is Rob Shoesmith. Shoesmith got his start marketing mobile applications by promoting an app he conceived, but […]

The growing market for mobile device applications has changed the way some businesses promote products and services to customers, and it has changed another thing too – the way some marketing professionals break into the business. One example is Rob Shoesmith.

Shoesmith got his start marketing mobile applications by promoting an app he conceived, but did not develop. MEDL Mobile, a mobile application design studio based in California, launched the Problem Halved app in 2009, which is a venue for users to enter and help solve a variety of problems. Shoesmith submitted the idea for the app, and dozens of other app ideas, to MEDL Mobile’s App Incubator, which allows anyone to submit ideas for apps.

Shoesmith said it took the company a couple of months to complete its development process, and during that time he spent 30 to 40 hours a week researching media outlets and contacts that might be interested in covering the app, as well as preparing a news release.

However, 29-year-old Shoesmith, a Coventry, England, native who went to the University of Derby for Internet Marketing before dropping out for financial reasons, decided to pitch his story with something other app developers didn’t – his own life story.

Shoesmith was a bin man, or, as it’s known in the U.S., a trash collector. Several outlets picked up the rags-to-riches story of a garbage man turned app marketer, and Problem Halved took off. Today, the app has been downloaded tens of thousands of times, Shoesmith said.

iPhone users weren’t the only ones that noticed Shoesmith’s story. MEDL Mobile has since hired him to work part-time promoting other apps.

“Because I personally had a lot of success with my application Problem Halved a couple years ago, and MEDL saw that I sort of had like a knack and passion for it, they asked me to help out other people in a similar situation to myself to generate media interest, and a buzz about their apps really,” Shoesmith said.

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In his work for MEDL Mobile, Shoesmith said he worked with other people that had great ideas for apps, and helped them attract media attention by providing a personal back-story with their ideas. Every app is like its own business, and Shoesmith’s experience promoting his own apps can be applied to others to make them profitable, he said.

Shoesmith said he expects his marketing work at MEDL Mobile to become a full-time position in the coming months. When he first found the App Incubator, he saw it as a way to get his foot in the door.

“I knew that if I went to a marketing or PR agency and said, ‘Look, give me a job,’ with no disrespect to people that do that type of job, I wouldn’t think that I would get to the next stage,” Shoesmith said. “So I thought I’ve got to think a little bit outside the box.”

While his workload increases with MEDL Mobile, Shoesmith said he is also planning a stunt to coincide with the release of the iPhone 5, which has been rumored to release in October. He plans on camping in line in front of the Apple Store in London on Regent Street awaiting the release of the new iPhone. Shoesmith has begun soliciting products and services from companies for his stunt, and hopes to attract significant media attention.

So far manufacturers have sent him a bag for his gadgets, a Paper Jamz guitar and recycled clothes pegs to hang up a line of laundry, he wrote on his blog. Restaurants have agreed to deliver food, a fitness trainer has committed to helping him stay in shape while in line, and a salon has agreed to style his hair.

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“The whole point of the experiment really is to see how much free products and media attention I can generate indirectly from Apple, because Apple is such a hot topic of conversation online on tech blogs and in mainstream press,” Shoesmith said. “So I’m just seeing how absurd it can be.”

Shoesmith said he’s going to blog from outside the Apple store. He said he may have a lot of time on his hands, perhaps 48 hours. Shoesmith said he may ask companies to provide entertainment on the streets. He said all the products will be donated to a charity after the experiment.

Shoesmith’s path from bin man to app marketer illustrates an unconventional career path in a cutting-edge technology industry. He pursued his desired profession in Internet marketing by following tried-and-true methods, despite not completing a college degree.

“If people want to change jobs or get into a new vocation, then a lot of it can be self-taught, and you don’t necessarily have to spend thousands of pounds on college education,” Shoesmith said. “Yes, it is useful, but sometimes you do need the practical application of actually going out and doing stuff rather than being shown examples. It’s all well and good to have the theory behind a subject, but it’s the actual doing that makes the idea great.”

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Christopher Brinckerhoff

Christopher is a freelance reporter in the Chicago area. His work has appeared in multiple publications including Patch, Printing News and, of course, Appolicious. To learn more please visit http://www.christopherbrinckerhoff.info.

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