Mobile, the new old thing.

Ironic use only please.
Mobile Marketing is the new old thing. It’s been around a lot longer that Social Media marketing, and yet flies somewhat under the radar in the marketing mix of some of today’s biggest brands. Why is that?
Mobile Marketing, in Toronto, but arguably in the rest of Canada and the US as well, is a channel that not every marketer understands. It’s personal. Very personal in fact. It skirts the line between broadcast like email, which can get deluged with spam, and 1:1 which can be geographically specific and targeted from a CRM database.

It requires planning and budget that is different from other channels. If you want to do a billboard, you have creative developed, someone helps you buy the media (in this case the billboard you want) and the outdoor company prints and attaches your creative to the media. Done. At the end of the month, if you don’t want to pay anymore, they take down your creative and it’s over. No more eyeballs.

With mobile, it’s different. You have to think about Short Codes, Apps, or Mobile Web. You have to decide if this is a one-off campaign or a long-term strategy—because that affects the cost. When you have a Short code there are maintenance fees (like owning a domain name) whether you’re active on the code or not. With apps, you need to be very strategic as far as getting your app used by your intended audience, and having a plan in place for things like updates, changes, etc. If your app is a one-off, then what’s the point? If it’s a long term plan, then you better be ready for it. And mobile web, really just your website but without the parts people don’t care about, has its own best practices. Small image sizes, low bandwidth, no flash, etc. There are a lot of things to consider.

But the real question shouldn’t be “What am I going to do in mobile?”… The real question should be “Why?”.
There are enough stats out there to be convincing, but I’m going to take a different approach. Think about what you take with you when you leave the house. House keys, wallet/purse, phone. You don’t leave home without it, and if you do, you’re unbalanced the whole day. It’s on you buzzing from the moment you wake up to when you plug it in before bed. You have your calendar, your email, your contacts—your life. How many phone numbers can you even remember? Your mobile device is part of you. Can you say that about Facebook? Who needs stats when you think about the user of the device in that context.

Now, this can also be a negative. If my device is so much a part of me, then even the smallest inkling of spam and I’m going to lose my mind. I have to pay for this thing, but I don’t pay for email. You have to make sure that if you’re sending someone something—they have said they want it. –and even if they change their mind, you have to make it easy for them to STOP*.
*STOP is the most common SMS keyword to end a user’s permission to message.

Let’s get back to marketing. How can you market to someone if it’s so hard to keep permission and blast messages at them? CRM. You build a relationship with them, you give a little, and in return—they listen. Hopefully if what you’re saying is relevant and worthwhile to them, they keep listening, and possibly even buy something from you. OR, maybe it’s a service you offer, like tickets to your phone, or alerts about missing kids—the user puts up with the occasional commercial message because they enjoy the service you provide.

So who’s doing this, and why isn’t everyone? Here’s what I think:
There’s a certain set of circumstances that encourage the perfect storm of mobile marketing, and here’s what I think they are

  1. A primarily consumer-facing brand
    • This could be Pepsi, or the fire department, but they’re both wanting the eyes and ears of the consumer public. B2B is a little trickier, unless the audience is really broad.
  2. A marketing dept or person-- with budget
    • This is often the biggest road block. “We want to do something cool, but we have to spend money on X,Y,Z *marketing first” *Where X,Y, and Z are channels or promotions that have been running forever, consistently declining in return, but everybody knows how they work and they have a predictable outcome.
  3. A CEO or leadership team open to new ideas
    • This sometimes isn’t important if you have #2 up there. If the leadership doesn’t micro-manage the channel marketers, then things can go pretty smoothly.

So why is Mobile the new old thing? It comes down to being both obvious and elusive. We all know we need to speak to our customers via mobile, but we either don’t know how, don’t have the money, can’t get the blessing of the boss, or a myriad of other hurdles. Those that you see taking maximum advantage of mobile in Canada and the United States?--- they’ve jumped those hurdles.