Mobile: the Bacon of Tech

It’s no secret, I love mobile, smart, cell technology. It’s intriguing and it’s been so for years, even though the year of mobile has never truly arrived. What does that mean, anyway? What will the year of mobile look like? Has anyone ever defined it and if they have why haven’t they shared it with the rest of us? I say the smartphone has hit the grown up mark, since (as the Boy Genius Report tells us) smartphone penetration has grown from 18% in 2009 to 44% at the end of 2011.  Now that’s a big deal. Why? Because media is powered by advertising. Media loves advertising dollars to flow through for their ability to give content to the consumer, cheaply or for free. This is what keeps the masses coming back. Given that and the fact that the power and usability of mobile technology has advanced to the point where they can handle all media consumption and technical uses, mobile has become the bacon of tech.

Yes, that’s right the bacon of tech. Think about it – bacon makes everything better, right? Well, so does your mobile. You can’t find a hot spot in some crappy diner or the airport is trying to make you pay for it? Turn on your mobile hot spot and surf away. Need to catch up on email while in a long line at the grocery store? Pop out your mobile and mail away baby! Plus, you can now pull in news, watch video, check sports scores (or watch the game) or even do your personal banking to make sure you have enough money in your checking account for those groceries! Also, if you want, you can read a book or download some music, plus use it as a pedometer or radio station. Mobile phones can literally do everything and all while fitting in your pocket or on your belt clip.  If you act now, you’ll be able to cash in on the estimated (by cnet) 200 million smartphones and/or tablets projected to be owned by 2015. Lastly, it’s the most likely place where one will merge offline media online.

So, let’s talk about a few ways that a small business can worm their way into a mobile phone so that they can go with the consumer everywhere, all while becoming the most likely business that consumers continually raise their hands for.

Give Shoppers Something to Take Home Digitally

Regardless of the tech height (low or high), the idea of take-homes isn’t new. Businesses hope consumers pass their material along; review the material later and utilize them in their next shopping experience to create loyalty and new customers.

A business can place QR Codes around the store, corresponding to the items where they’re posted. The beauty of this, is the business chooses where the code leads and the business can change it whenever they feel the need. So, it can be a link to a certain page on your mobile website, a coupon, a video or a place to simply to add customers to newsletters or social media business pages. Most of these methods have the ability to take personally identifiable information (PII) down as well, so you can contact the consumer in the future.

Offer shoppers the opportunity to enter in a text short code for a prize/discount/coupon/sweepstakes entrance. This surprisingly low tech, tech is any easy way to get your consumers kinesthetically involved in the process of shopping with you. You can hand them a piece of paper with the short code typed on it, with simple instructions on how to redeem the prize. Loyalty is important and text, with permission, can be a great way of creating it while capturing opt-in hand raisers’ mobile numbers.

Go Mobile with Traditional Marketing

What does this mean? There are inexpensive ways to utilize flyers, business cards, commercials, print ads and out of home communications to engage consumers to earn a spot in their mobiles. One way is to place a QR Code to an application, or location in the Market or App Store where prospects and customers can download your application. I’ve had customers put codes or download instructions on coasters, key rings and other giveaways. It’s a natural way to “intrude” without turning off customers so that they can peruse your offerings at their leisure. Now, you’ve been downloaded and have the ability to engage with your consumer/prospect on their most personal of devices.

Make your traditional marketing a teaser and lead them to a mobile site or application to find out the rest of the story.  Customers are surprisingly willing to engage with a creative story that furthers brand messages because creativity is rewarded with greater brand perception. Greater brand perception typically leads to sales and evangelism.

Create a Great Mobile Experience

Once you’ve promoted your business, make sure that the brand experience matches the commitment it took to download or follow the communication through to other media. The IAB has released mobile ad and app guidelines for all platforms, plus there are a multitude of organizations that will make sure your mobile real estate is optimized for every type of device – whether it be an Android phone or tablet, Apple phones and iPads or any other phone – like feature, Windows or Blackberry.

Nothing will turn your consumers or prospects against you faster than a bad mobile experience so take heed. This is not the time to be laisez fair in your approach to making this a positive interaction. Remember that your emails including newsletters and advertisements alike, need to be mobile friendly. More customers are using their smartphones and/or tablets to review email. Treat all communications you send as such, by working with organizations that will make emails smartphone compatible.

Social is Mobile

The world over, there are four times as many owned mobile phones as there are PCs. Be where your customers are, by engaging them on location-context aware check-in services. Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp, Living Social, Groupon, etc, etc are all places where every company needs to have a presence and deals. These services are often integrated with a person’s Twitter, Google+, Facebook et al. This is totally non-intrusive because the customer finds YOU!

If you have the ability, make sure that you have someone managing those accounts for you so that PR concerns are immediately addressed in a medium where customer service is expected to react as fast as the technology. Also, you can’t beat the engagement benefits of “hanging out” with hand-raisers online. This could be the one greatest reason to create a social brand presence.

In the past I likened mobile to the hub of the wheel, because it acts as the center of a person’s personal connection universe with spokes to every other medium. Taking advantage of that can only increase sales revenue and profit margin. In 2012, though, I’m changing that mantra to the bacon of tech, because mobile makes everything better.

About Therran Oliphant

Therran Oliphant is a strong advocate for developing the academic and practical field of Integrated Marketing Communications. Holding an M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) from Eastern Michigan University, Therran has been a staunch advocate for developing the theoretical, practical and applicable concepts of the field, especially as it comes to digital advertising and media. His main passion is helping marketers more accurately interface with the technology community and ask the right questions to help them accomplish the objectives their brand customers have set. A career in data and advertising technology has allowed him to have a unique perspective on the science of utilizing the right methodologies to systematically ask the right questions that lead to delivering the outcomes necessary for success.