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Mobile Marketing: It's Never Too Early to Start

  |  June 11, 2009   |  Comments

Mobile enables brands to engage with consumers where other channels cannot. But that first requires some planning.

Poof! That's the sound of the mobile line item disappearing from your media plan.

Mobile marketing is being left off of media plans when the budget and numbers just won't stretch. That "whooshing" sound is the un-checking of the box on the last line item as it's flushed from the final plan. Is that because mobile doesn't perform as well or have enough reach to compare to online display?

It's Already Too Late

The answer is mostly, no. The problem is that mobile is being left to media planners and buyers to incorporate into complex media plans where each line item is fighting for enough budget to sustain leverage and clout in the market. Because mobile is often the least understood and recognized, it's the obvious choice for downsizing.

Mobile marketing is more about consumer touchpoints than media math. Before the question of whether to use mobile gets to the plan level, which is fraught with tough decisions and fights for survival, marketing leaders should be planning to use it far earlier in the decision process.

Mobile Is Wherever Your Customers Are

A lot has been written about the growth and impact of mobile consumer adoption, the launches of hot new devices, and the inevitable "so where is mobile, I've been waiting for 10 years now?" And it's all true. But there's a fundamental misunderstanding (is under-understanding a word?) of the roles for mobile in a marketer's plan.

Mobile is relevant at many of the points at which your brand touches consumers (the touchpoints). And most of those points don't factor into a media plan. There are all kinds of customer service, frequently asked questions, location-specific, transactional, and loyalty program moments best served by reaching customers via mobile devices.

Marriott hotels has publicized a great case in which people stranded overnight by snowstorms searched for and booked available hotel rooms because the hotel brand had the mobile tools to handle the immediate and very location-specific demand. That revenue and brand favorability couldn't have been driven by a line item on a media plan; it reflects a plan to be relevant at key consumer touchpoints.

Marketing Directors Should Own the Role of Mobile

If you're a marketing director planning budget allocations, leaving out mobile touchpoints beyond display advertising will risk missing interactions that consumers expect, but also can overlook opportunities to be engaging where other channels cannot.

The beauty of mobile is that it combines the organization of our PC operating systems, with the vast and fast access of the Internet, and adds a killer app -- location awareness. That means a consumer has a powerful, untethered computer, with access to the Internet, which also makes interactions relevant to where she's standing. That's not a media buy; that's a very significant change in reaching consumers and applying brand messages and promotions to the situation rather than to where the inventory happens to be.

Therefore, it needs to be planned up front, in the beginning when we analyze how consumers behave, when we decide how to reach them, when we know what we want them to do, what we need to say to them, and what to do when they talk to us. Leaving mobile as an experimental, last-minute effort inevitably produces a media plan with a line item not coordinated with other channels, has too few impressions to make an impact and too limited a scope to deliver on a powerful emerging channel.

Poof! Missed opportunity.

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Eric Bader

Eric Bader is a partner in BrandInHand, a full-service mobile marketing and media company that serves global brand marketers, partners with agencies, and assists emerging media companies. BrandInHand's clients span the consumer goods, financial services, technology, and retail industries.

Prior to forming BrandInHand, Bader served as managing director of digital at MediaVest Worldwide. A new media veteran, he was formerly the head of online enterprises at CSTV Networks (now CBSSports) and, prior to that, executive director of interactive marketing at Ogilvy.

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