Sean Hurwitz, Founder and CEO of Pixo Group, prides himself on staying in front of the digital marketing trends.
His company has had to pivot a few times, going from console to mobile gaming, and now to offering products and services for the big fish. At every point, they knew when the industry was getting too crowded, when it was time to move on and reinvent themselves.
That’s a skill every company could use.
We recently interviewed Sean and asked about his company’s history of staying front of the trends. Here’s what we got out of that conversation.
When to Reinvent Yourself
Because Pixo Group was such an innovative business, they drew a lot of talent early on. They began in video gaming, creating a game for the Wii.
Since gaming isn’t what you think of when you think of Detroit, they were able to attract people who wanted to be in that industry and didn’t want to leave to go west or east. They drew young talent, people who started with internships that turned into jobs, the whole company growing organically. They were only one of two or three companies in Michigan that were developing games.
But when apps got hot, they were ready. The young talent they had brought in was naturally pushing them towards a newer platform, so they pivoted to mobile app development.
It was a business that no one knew much about—not them or anyone. Yet they had an excellent run of producing mobile gaming apps.
But guess what? Mobile gaming—and the app space in general—is a lot more crowded now than it was in 2009, when Pixo Group got into it. So they pivoted again after they could no longer monetize their own games/apps. They shifted to selling products and services to the big brands and agencies, which is what they’re currently up to.
How did they know to make these shifts?
ROI plays a huge role. They recognized early on that brands were coming on board mobile gaming around 2011-2012, when companies finally accepted mobile/tablets as a real platform.
Yet the wave was short-lived. Companies got a low ROI, because they were just creating marketing apps and couldn’t get much more out of them. We saw a big fall-off in the app boom.
If you look at successful apps now, other than the big games, the apps have to have a particular purpose. Pixo Group recognized the dawning of that trend, and they realized there had to be more than creating games that would be short-lived.
They moved the company into building apps that had a reason for users to have them. Without purposeful apps, you’re hard-pressed to build anything successful these days. That’s exactly why Fitbits and other wearables are successful: they have a clearly defined, specific purpose.
If your apps don’t have purpose, you’re hard-pressed to build anything successful.
So when did Sean know the company needed to reinvent itself? It was a simple matter of watching the industry’s ROI plummet, and getting out while they still could.
More Than Marketing Pieces
The current manifestation of Pixo Group still builds apps, but they are now built for well-defined purposes. We’ll share one example of their work, to give you an idea of how they have successfully adapted to life after gaming.
They built an app for Michigan State University, taking advantage of Snapchat, other trends, their own platform by letting users take selfies and post them to other alumni and students. Pixo Group identified the influencers within that audience, then gave Michigan State access to that data so the school could leverage it.
MSU’s primary goal was their reputation, ultimately. Not football or athletics or academics specifically, but the brand reputation.
They have a campaign called Who Will? Spartans Will. Pixo Group’s platform allows alumni and students to take pictures and write copy about the great things they’re accomplishing in their lives, and those pictures get posted within the stream of the selfie app.
The school had millions of views, and they not only accomplished their goals but are satisfied enough to continue adding onto the app.
That’s an app with purpose.
As a business, you should focus on your core competencies. But you should also realize that sometimes, what’s as your core is a little more flexible than you think.
There will be times when your product or service will need to pivot. It may not be as dramatic of a pivot as with Pixo Group, but it will be important to your business and marketing efforts all the same.
You just have to be ready.
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