For every business chasing the multi-trillion dollar retail spend with a mobile wallet product, there are thousands of little to mid-size guys and gals who just want to be serve the mobile consumer.
One way is with Square, which offers merchants a free credit card reader for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. Square for iPad also brings a point of sale system for businesses to accept payments and track inventory.
According to Fast Company, more than one million small businesses and individuals use Square to process credit cards--a number boosted almost solely by word of mouth. Square has no business-development team and no sales force. The publication says that at least 60 of those “Girl Scouts, artists, farmers’-market vendors, political candidates, taco-truck vendors, accountants, designers, and babysitters have never accepted plastic before”.
Intuit’s GoPayment is in the space, as is the newest competitor, PayPal, which earlier this month launched PayPal Here. The product allows merchants to accept payments by swiping cards in the card reader, scanning cards and checks using their phone cameras, or manually entering card information into the app. They can also send an invoice and set payment terms directly from the app.
Another way small and medium-size businesses can succeed is by adding a mobile call to action in marketing materials and advertisements. For example, maid services have had to recruit more help after a spend of less than $1,000 as part of a radio ticket promotion brought more clean-the-house requests than the business could handle.
My favorite mobile success story involves Ford local dealers who found new prospects and customers with the least sexy of mobile products – text messaging. By adding an SMS call to action to traditional media, Ford generated a 15.4 percent lead conversion rate.
Here’s how it worked:
Customers watching a Ford Fusion television commercial could text “Fusion” to a short code to receive local offers. They were then prompted to text their zip code and applicable incentives are sent to the customer. Customers were then given the option to text their name if they would like to be contacted by their local dealer. Those who submitted names were sent to the local dealer for follow up.
Some mobile products and services, like the ones introduced at the recent South By Southwest conference, mainly drive buzz – which is fine if that’s what you want. But most businesses need more. Often, it’s not the fancy, sexy, potentially expensive stuff that drives the best results. It’s the tactics that give you reach (like the ubiquitous text messaging) and are inclusive for all your customers and prospects.
Mario Schulzke, founder of IdeaMensch and director of digital strategy at marketing firm WDCW, is one of those Gen-Xers who teaches Boomers like me something every day. His insights for us are to keep an eye on the little guy as well as the titans.
“You know, I am not smart enough to tell you about major game changers,” Schulzke says in my new book, Mobilized Marketing: How To Drive Sales, Engagment, and Loyalty through Mobile Devices jeffhasen. “But I can tell you there will be a revolution of incremental innovations that are about to take place.
“It’s so easy nowadays to build your own website, your own piece of software or your own app. So what’s happening is that a bunch of people are starting to solve the problems that they’ve been having in their own lives and industries. We’ll see some major productivity gains in just about every vertical, driven by people solving problems close to their vest.”
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. >