Mobilizing your Brand


This post was originally featured as a guest post on think (here). I put it together for a good friend of mine, Jason Markow (@jmarkow). His blog focuses on helping entrepreneurs. The content of the post is based on a lecture I’ll be giving at the Rocky Mountain Direct Marketing Association on January 13th. (I’ll post the details when they have them up on their site.) Enjoy!

Just in case you’ve been under a very large rock lately, mobile usage and mobile marketing are going to take off in 2010. I know. I know. You’ve heard this before. But this time it’s true! Between the explosion of the iPhone app market (and others) and the dramatic increase in mobile usage we are in for some amazing growth over the next several years.
The numbers:

  • 25% of Facebook users access Facebook via their mobile device.
  • Increase of 34% in Internet usage in 2009 (Teens, seniors and women)
  • 55% of mobile Internet usage is via the iPhone, 22% from Android with 12% from BlackBerry
  • 244 million users in the US aren’t on a smartphone

There are numerous considerations when mobilizing your brand. Here are but a few.

Know your market – This is obvious and yet many get hung up on wanting to do something new. Especially entrepreneurs. Is your target market utilizing mobile devices? If so, how? Are SMS alerts the extent of what they will need or is MMS a must. What about applications? There are a number of research firms that can help you get the information you need and partnering with a full service mobile agency such as Textopoly is a great place to start.

This brings up the subject of utilizing On-deck vs. Off-deck methods. This subject alone is worthy of several posts if not a short novel. In general, it is best to think of On-deck solutions as the AOL of the mobile space. You access the Internet through a preconfigured (by the mobile carrier) portal and are shown content/brands determined by the carrier. Think Motorola Razr. Off-deck is what we think of as the mobile web. Think smartphone users; iPhone, Android, etc.

Usability – It is important to realize that usability is marketing. The Internet is an on-demand medium and if you “get in the way” of your customers, you’re not marketing to them appropriately. The challenge of usability increases with the mobile Internet due to limited screen real estate and a different user interface. No mouse and limited keyboard. That is why the touch screen has been such a blessing. Fortunately, mobile Internet usage is more task focused. People use their device to find restaurants, real estate opportunities, movies, etc. People do surf the web using their mobile device and it’s considerably less than the terrestrial Internet. This means that you need to present only essential information in a way that is clear and easy to navigate. For more advanced users that have downloaded the latest and greatest mobile browsers like Mobile Firefox or Skyfire, you should also, always give them to the chance to access your standard Internet site via their mobile device via a link on your site.

Mobile is complimentary – Businesses that utilize mobile, drive traffic via traditional methods such as commercials, customer loyalty programs, online ads, etc. A mobile campaign done by Hooters (yes Hooters) in Fairfax Virginia used television commercials to get people to sign up for their Mobile Text Club via custom short code and increased sales by 34% during the campaign with a 25% coupon redemption. It is hard to imagine a purely mobile campaign and yet as smartphones become more capable, it will happen. For now, think holistically.

Search based advertising – The most successful method of advertising on mobile devices is search-based advertising. It has the highest click through rate as compared with an abysmal .30% of mobile banner ads. Currently in-app advertising for the iPhone is having incredible success, but in my opinion this is due to the newness of the medium. When the Internet first started out, click through rates on banner ads were around 50%. Now businesses feel fortunate if they get over 3%.
Mobile is a personal medium – A person’s mobile device is an extension of themselves. Rarely are they without it. They share personal information with friends and loved ones via the device. Spamming users with vanilla offers will be met with more backlash than you can imagine. Think of the device as a tool that your customers can use to build your business. How do I get them the tools to market my business? (Just remember your product/service needs to be worthy of recommendation. That is the had part.)

App vs. Mobile site – This is the question as of late. Again, you should always go back to your business model and knowledge of your users. What devices are they using? Are you blue-ocean-strategizing about getting the smart phone demographic? Then an app may be in order. Photokast compiled a great document outlining the lessons learned from creating an iPhone app. One of the best resources for getting analytics on applications across Apple, Blackberry and Android, is Distimo. This will help you make a short-term decision. Long-term, you’ll need to be everywhere. Also, when you start to programmatically address your business needs with respect to technology, make sure that you consult with someone really really smart to architect your information in a way that it can be data-driven and pulled into multiple mediums. Updating information once and having it populate your site, your application and your mobile site is the goal. No matter what you decide make sure that your offering is usable.

Mobile Media should be for the mobile – Repurposing a video shot for television is a great way to irritate your users. When you create video content for mobile remember the limitations of the device. Small screen. Video should be shot like a 50s western. Subject dead center. Close up on the actor(s). I recommend shooting everything you’re thinking of doing with your iPhone 3Gs first. That will give you an immediate sense if it is going to work. (Also, use 720p format. Easy to push to HDTV.)

Brick & mortar? – Does your business have a brick & mortar component? If so, location based services such as couponing & mapping will prove invaluable. Help them find you. Ask permission to know where they are if you develop your own application. This data will help determine where you should place additional marketing opportunities and will lead to many many other opportunism. You may chose to piggyback on existing mobile social networks such as Foursquare or Brightkite. They already have a user base and talking with them about how you may be able to increase your revenue/loyalty is advisable. They already have one half of the opportunity solved; the users. You bring the other side; the business. Also, it may be beneficial to go mini-gorilla-marketer and put your businesses information in applications like Yelp, Wikitude or MasterCard Priceless Picks. All three allow users to enter information that other users can find.

Twitter – This has been Twitter’s year. What most forget is that Twitter is one of the easiest ways to get updates to your user’s mobile device. Just remember that Twitter is micro-blogging and that it’s true strength is not distribution; it’s communication. Be prepared to monitor what users are saying about your service and participate with honesty in mind. Corp-speak will get you nowhere.

These are some of the primary things to consider when thinking of mobilizing your brand. Mobile provides a new arena for entrepreneurs to promote compelling services/products and now is the time to get involved. It’s imperative that you consider this evolving medium to grow your business and remember to have fun.

By Michael Myers