Service Is The Killer App On Black Friday and Every Other Day

By Saturday, we knew from the likes of comScore, PayPal and IBM approximately how many dollars were spent on Black Friday.

 Service Is The Killer App On Black Friday and Every Other Day
It is a bit more difficult to gauge the activity around Small Business Saturday, an “event” American Express created in 2010 to bring shoppers to small and medium size business.

To encourage consumers to shop locally, Americann Express offered 100,000 cardmembers a $25 credit for shopping locally. The National Federation of Independent Business reported that about 500,000 small businesses around the country participated, bringing in approximately 100,000 million consumers.

Beyond that, American Express will not discuss incremental revenue generated by the promotion.

In a report from Inc. Magazine, store owners in Wichita, Kansas, and Athens, Alabama, for instance, saw an increase in foot traffic firsthand because of Small Business Saturday. 

Also, the magazine said that there were about 200,000 mentions of Small Business Saturday on Twitter. By comparison, there were just under one million mentions of Black Friday on Twitter.

Regular readers of this blog know how I believe that small and medium size businesses need to provide the mobile experiences their customers and prospects expect. From payment to wi-fi to deals, mobile makes these entities competitive.

I still believe the killer app is customer service. It can’t be matched via a mobile phone or computer. Over the long weekend, our family frequented a small restaurant. The waitress treated us like royalty, so much so that we asked to speak to the manager to make sure that he knew what he had in his help.

Sure, we could’ve ordered food in via mobile app. While that has it’s own cool factor, it is nothing like a superb experience delivered by a service pro.

According to a survey by Ipswitch’s Network Management Division, online shoppers have no patience for poor website experiences – 92 percent surveyed said they have abandoned a website because of a disappointing experience.

Contrast that with in-person quality service – and the customer will come back often.


This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

 Service Is The Killer App On Black Friday and Every Other Day

Will Square’s Success Make Other Businesses Pay?

Will Square’s Success Make Other Businesses Pay?

News that Square is processing $10 billion in payments annually has ramifications for small to medium sized businesses everywhere.

Visitors to this blog know I’m hardly in the business of hype. I’m not suggesting that every SMB go all in on mobile immediately.  What I am saying is that the $10 billion shows that there is enough activity to push to the forefront the need to determine whether any business has customers that may choose to go elsewhere if the option is not offered.

To review, Square offers a card reader that turns a mobile phones into payment devices. It charges businesses $2.75 per transaction and splits the fees with Visa, MasterCard, and banks.

Square isn’t the only game in town. As Reuters reported this week, in recent months, eBay Inc's PayPal and Intuit have both released their own card readers, while retail giants including Wal-Mart and Target have announced a joint venture to develop their own mobile payment offering. According to Reuters, Visa and AT&T also have projects in the works as does Google, which is focusing on its Google Wallet product.

Beyond current consumer expectations from small to medium sized businesses, the urgency to figure out a mobile payment solution is heightened with the news that Square and Starbucks teamed up to offer customers Square’s mobile payment application. The companies are giving Starbucks patrons in 7,000 U.S. stores the ability to use the mobile payment application, Square Wallet, a way to quickly and seamlessly pay for lattes, cappuccinos and more.

Customers simply download Square Wallet to their iOS or Android device to set up an account. Square Wallet is linked to their debit or credit card, so there is no need to reload a balance. Customers tap “pay here” and scan their QR code – similar to the customer experience on the existing Starbucks mobile payment applications. Their digital receipt appears instantly.

What does Starbucks have to do with small to medium sized businesses in a category other than coffee? With more consumer experiences will come more pressure on SMB to serve the shopper just as efficiently.


This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.


Will Square’s Success Make Other Businesses Pay?


Notes From A Mobilized Marketer - The "Suckers For Apple Products" Edition

Jimmy Kimmel called consumers "suckers" for buying so many similar Apple products. Parody but how true for you? Or me?

Meanwhile, Apple has doubled its ad budget to $1 billion a year.  What's the value of "free" pre-product launch buzz unique to the company?

According to multiple reports, Microsoft is testing its own brand smartphone. There are risks in pissing off their partners, but too much is at stake not to make a run under full Microsoft control.

Speaking of Microsoft, Oprah said this about the Surface tablet: It “feels like a Mercedes-Benz to me, people!” Her stock isn’t what it once was, but what’s the worth of her comment in terms of sales?

Mobile giving could account for 20 percent of Sandy relief efforts. Text REDCROSS at 90999 to donate $10 to the relief efforts. As a reminder, more than 90 percent of those who contributed via mobile to Haiti relief were new Red Cross donors.

Teens who use smartphones may engage in more sex, according to a researcher who doesn't blame the technology.

IDC says the share of users accessing social networks on PCs will drop from 66 percent in 2012 to 52 percent in 2016. Mobile disruption.

You thought it was tough now getting a table at Starbucks - just wait. The company is testing wireless charging for devices.

Free mobile apps are four times more likely to track location, says security company Juniper Networks.

How cool is this? Given tablets but no teachers, Ethiopian kids are teaching themselves.

Neither Siri nor Maps would lead you to the executive shuffle at Apple. Siri would think you said dapple.

When It Comes To Free Mobile Websites, Do You Get What You Deserve?

Are free mobile websites good for small to medium sized businesses or is there a cost to going that route?

When It Comes To Free Mobile Websites, Do You Get What You Deserve?

Like most things, that depends on many factors, including the complexity of the business offering as well as the expectations of the customer.

Remember, marketers I interviewed in Mobilized Marketing told me that they are seeing brands punished by consumers who are put through a poor or even non-existent mobile experience. 

What brings this to mind is the news that OpenTable, a leading provider of free, real-time online restaurant reservations for diners and reservation and guest management solutions for restaurants, introduced a free service that makes it easy for its restaurant customers to optimize their websites for mobile devices. 

The service, powered by vendor DudaMobile, is being promoted as “quick and easy to use and the before and after results are dramatic without sacrificing the branding and elegance of the restaurant's desktop website.”

If only it were that easy. In a post last week, I wrote about the myths of so-called responsive design. The biggest point I made was that there is no magic method to building once and providing optimal experiences on the web, mobile device, and tablet.

The same is true for DIY mobile web tools.

There is great variation in the quality of small to medium sized business websites, as well as the amount of content created and freshened as needed.

Clearly some businesses have gone the “free” route for their online presences. We know from talking to business owners that results are mixed, with many realizing that you get what you pay for.

Taking a bad web experience to mobile only compounds the problem.

It behooves small to medium sized businesses businesses to look further than price to satisfy its needs.

For more thinking about small business and digital, I recommend last Sunday’s “It’s A Digital World” segment Your Business show on MSNBC. About a dozen were interviewed, including me. I spoke about the passive activity of shopping becoming interactive – and of the large implications.


This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

When It Comes To Free Mobile Websites, Do You Get What You Deserve?


Mobile and Small Business - Stats Cut Both Ways

There was something for the naysayers and for the optimists in an important survey of small and medium size business and their use of mobile.

Mobile and Small Business - Stats Cut Both Ways
On the positive side, SMBs understand the value of building a database of prospects, according to a new survey by well-respected Borrell Associates.

SMBs prefer paying for signups as opposed to paying for mobile advertising clicks or impressions (27% versus to 19% for clicks and 6% for banners), according to the polling of over 1,300 SMBs. But 52% are unsure, which isn’t a big surprise in what are still the early days of wireless.

But proving that those of us in mobile marketing still have convincing to do to drive more mobile adoption, 45% of small business plan to maintain their level of spending, while 27% of medium-sized businesses plan to increase their level of spending on mobile media in the next year, compared to 4% who expect a decrease in mobile spend.

SMBs say that they are not satisfied with the ROI on mobile advertising, but 49% that have bought mobile ads say that they would spend more if a higher ROI could be garnered.

My take?

Big brands say that they will accelerate their mobile spends at higher rates than what businesses told Borrell.

In each case, there is plenty of proof that mobile can work if done smartly.

As an example that was detailed in my Mobilized Marketing book, Fox Chevrolet in Baltimore combined mobile and radio during the recession when it had not sod a car in more than a month pre-Cash For Clunkers.

The program worked like this: Fox Chevrolet bought two weeks of airtime on Hearst’s 98 Rock radio station to run 10- and 15-second promotions encouraging listeners to text in to enter to win the chance to purchase a car for $98.

In total, nearly 500 listeners texted the keyword Fox to the station’s short code. Each was entered to win and given details on how to attend the drawing at Fox.

On a Saturday morning, nearly 300 showed up on the lot and two were given the opportunity to purchase a car for $98.

Although the foot traffic was nice, it doesn’t begin to measure the success of the campaign. With prospective buyers enticed by shiny cars and competitive deals, Fox turned around its fortunes by selling 17 new cars and 17 used cars at full price on that one day.

Another example is the local maid service in Salt Lake City that had to hire more help to serve the demand produced through a text to win sponsorship that cost only hundreds of dollars. 

But as much as we want businesses to get mobile, the offering of proof will take more time.


This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

Mobile and Small Business - Stats Cut Both Ways