Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Committing to Mobile Rather Than “Testing”

Do you have a mobile strategy or are you just winging it?

Participating in the mobile landscape is like any relationship; you have to know what you want going into it in order to get out of it what you want. You have to be willing to commit and you have to be willing to compromise in order to have success.

Mobile is growing in importance and the recent acquisitions by Google and Apple of mobile ad networks, as well as the recent announcement of the Google Nexus One, demonstrates that fact. The problem is that too many people come at it from the wrong perspective. Mobile is first and foremost a communications vehicle and the smart marketers are the ones that are using it in that way. Mobile is built on apps and ads, but all these do is provide an easier means of expanding the communication between a brand and the consumer.

Mobile should be used as a support and extension vehicle for other media campaigns by embracing that communications role. It is not something to be planned in a vacuum because it doesn’t perform well as a stand-alone effort. The ads in the mobile space are too small and un-engaging and the applications that some companies develop are always an extension of an application from somewhere else. Customer service apps are an extension of traditional customer service. Mobile websites are a re-purposing of existing content. No brand would begin with the mobile platform as their primary means of interacting with the consumer because the reach and the experience are too limited.

Mobile is also not a primary medium, but rather one that is well used for continuing a conversation that was started somewhere else. I get calls day in and day out from mobile providers that want us to spend money on their platform, but they are typically pitching first and listening second, which does a disservice to the mobile category because it is not building on the strength of the medium. Mobile is a means of extending the conversation and going beyond the browser, the printed page or the television commercial. By integrating a mobile component for follow-up you can provide a measurement element for other campaigns. Text messaging can be used for additional information. Mobile search can be used to get information on the fly. Location based services can provide similar efforts. Even mobile ads that refer to a holistic campaign launched in another medium can re-enforce messaging and convert consumers into consideration (especially when factored in with mobile offers that reach the consumer closer to the point of purchase). All of these elements provide for follow-up that may not have existed before.

To do mobile right you need to be proactive and plan out the goals for your campaign, and you need to integrate it into your entire effort. Don’t plan mobile as a “test” buy in your media plan because it will be just like “testing” a relationship. If you don’t commit to a relationship, it can’t work. You can build a beautiful application but if you don’t promote it and integrate it into your overall effort, it will fail.

If you’re going to commit to a mobile integration in your efforts, be willing to compromise. You have to work within the parameters of where the industry is now, not plan for where it will be in a year. The reason for this willing to compromise is that your audience may not be at the forefront of technology yet and you have to respect them where they are (plus the industry changes so rapidly that you may not be correct on your bets). They may not be ready for apps as advanced as you want to make them and you need to go where they are now. Come to them, get them interested and then take them where you want to go.

And for the people selling mobile these days, please set your expectations properly. Yours is not a quick sell because you need to sell into existing campaigns. Your ideas cannot be planned in a vacuum or you will not succeed. Be sure to do your homework and have a strategy from your side as well.

Strategic planning at the beginning of both sides will lead to easier successes down the line. Don’t you agree?

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