I'm always disappointed when a brand I like isn't using mobile in its marketing -- not in its merchandising, media, or customer relationships. But the good news is that most brands I work with and encounter absolutely have the intent, but they don't know where to start.
So, in an attempt to catalyze some brands into taking their first steps, here are a three ways to get started:
Allocating media dollars to advertising on mobile is an easy first step. Perhaps the easiest advertising play in mobile is to do a brand awareness campaign and measure it pre- and post-campaign using Dynamic Logic or Insight Express. It's the easiest because most available creative units can be converted to mobile specs without starting from scratch, high quality name-brand content sites offer uncluttered and well-targeted inventory, and mobile ad networks such as AdMob, Quattro Wireless, and Millennial Media make reach, measurement, and reporting easy and successful.
If using mobile media for direct marketing or sales is too much to bite off at first -- because the planning or measurement processes are a big deal -- awareness advertising is the place to build momentum. The recent ad effort by Dockers did a great job of raising awareness and getting attention. Its "shakable" iPhone app was fun, unique, worth talking about, and reportedly had the desired impact on awareness metrics.
Integrated Marketing and Site Traffic
Realizing that consumers always have a phone or device in their hands, brands can tag existing media and materials with mobile site URLs and SMS short codes that allow users to interact with the brand at the moment they are exposed to the message. The advantage is that while this method, unto itself, won't necessarily send products flying off the shelves, it will cut down the lag time between when a consumer is exposed to a message and when he acts. Interaction rates and site visits can be tracked directly to the media and can have a big impact on optimization and the proof of engagement marketers need to build up to more investment.
Shift or Complement Existing Functions
Remember printing out a map online to bring in the car or walk around a strange city? It wasn't that long ago, but it was before in-car, portable, and now mobile GPS and mapping became affordable and pervasive. This evolution is great for marketers who choose to use it. Brands no longer have to provide multiple steps and explanations to get consumers to map out how to get to their stores. Brands can now integrate mapping into mobile Web sites and applications, have it refer directly to a person's current location, and provide relevant offers and promotions on a hyper-local basis.
As a first step, plan the role of maps in the brand's drive-to-retail strategy, and invest in making the consumer's mobile mapping process as rich, informed, and beneficial as possible. Multiple functions such as couponing and distributing geographically-relevant offers can be combined into one effort to provide smart maps and can show immediate results.
Many brands stood on the sidelines as online marketing grew because they weren't convinced that consumers searched for products online, did comparisons, clicked on ads, or shared brand content with friends. In the beginning, understandably, it was hard to measure, and processes were complicated and often required resources that brands didn't have. Mobile marketing started largely in the same way, but now the audiences, inventory, activity, and technology are all mature. Brands must take concerted first (or second) steps. Maybe the three ways suggested above will convert that intent into action.
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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.