For marketers, mobile has changed everything. And nothing.
The what remains the same: Move more product. This has been the case for centuries. In a recent interview, Steve Mura, director of digital marketing at Miller-Coors, told me that his goal is the same as it was for his predecessor 155 years ago. Sell more beer.
It’s the how that has changed. With more mobile devices on the planet than there are toilets, and more people consuming via wireless, there are more ways than ever for brands and marketers to reach consumers. This opportunity requires more than mobile marketing; it requires mobilized marketing.
The distinction here is the difference between pushing out thousands of mass daily offers versus targeting mobile users based on their location, their demographic information and their personal interests and then using incentives to open a two-way conversation that keeps them engaged.
For businesses, it is not as simple as just adding one mobile campaign to the marketing mix. The basics have remained constant more than a century and a half: Know your audience and develop plans accordingly.
To learn about your target audience, Microsoft mobile veteran Barbara Williams explains, it’s important to observe.
“This is something really simple,” she says. “If you’re not sure if you should be doing mobile, take a page out of classic consumer research model and do ethnographic research. You can do it on your own. Go to the store, go to the mall, go out to dinner, and sit back and watch people. Just watch. Old school. And you see everyone is on their devices and they are spending quite a bit of time on their devices and they’re not making phone calls necessarily and they are not just doing SMS [short message service]—they are doing a lot of things.
“When you see that happening around you everywhere you go, ask yourself, ‘How can I insert my product or my brand or my message into these experiences?’ Just look at the world around you. And listen to young people who grew up in the digital age. Their behaviors are completely different.”
What Williams is saying is that people spend a lot of time on their mobile devices. Beyond texting and making calls, they download apps, surf the Web and play games. Creative marketers should think about how they can insert their brands into each of these daily consumer activities in a way that isn’t intrusive (or worse, annoying). How about a sponsored mobile game or an app that helps you make your grocery list?
The most successful mobile marketers give consumers options.
In early 2011, Macy’s developed a mobile program called Backstage Pass. The program uses in-store signage that prompts shoppers to “scan the star”—a quick response (QR) code shaped in the iconic Macy’s star logo—to “go behind the scenes” with their favorite Macy’s designers. By scanning the logo with a smartphone, shoppers are presented with access to 30-second videos that provide fashion tips and a behind-the-scenes look at clothes from Bobbi Brown, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors, Greg Norman for Tasso Elba, Rachel Roy, Irina Shabayeva for INC and Martha Stewart.
One of the most unusual aspects of this campaign was its inclusion of multiple mobile channels. The program integrated QR codes, SMS, MMS, mobile video and the mobile web. It even provided a traditional URL for those who didn’t want to interact via their mobile phones.
By offering shoppers so many choices, Macy’s is catering to all of its customers, no matter which device they carry, which operating system their device runs or their personal mobile preferences. After all, a retailer would never offer a sale to only customers driving red sedans, right? So it doesn’t make any sense to only offer an app to those with iPhones.
In the end, mobile devices present a huge opportunity for businesses to engage with their potential customers. But remember, when it comes to marketing, choice is the killer app.
(article first appeared in Seattle Business magazine - http://seattlebusinessmag.com/article/ceo-adviser-hold-phone)