On my last trip to the U.K., I spent some time with a taxi driver talking about "the knowledge." London cabbies must go through an intensive training program to fully understand information about London -- the streets, the sites, the history -- before they can jump behind the wheel. On a part-time basis, this knowledge can take up to three years to learn and requires substantial personal commitment.
On the mobile front, I'm frequently asked about where to find mobile knowledge. Given our industry's rapid growth, we're challenged with having enough mobile experts to share the knowledge across the large group of folks looking to learn. The mobile cabs are out there, you just need to know where to look for them.
Here's where can you go for help to build your own mobile knowledge and become the cabby of mobile marketing yourself:
Events. Lots and lots of events! Not only are the events great for building the knowledge, they're also great for networking and expanding your contact database in the mobile sphere. And for those who don't already use them, mobile enthusiasts rely on Plaxo and LinkedIn. Use them.
Webinars. Companies and associations are offering hour-long Webinars specializing in key industry topics. Check one out.
Publications and newsletters. There are many great publications for mobile in addition to this one, such as RCR Wireless News, Wireless Week, FierceWireless, mocoNews.net, and Telephony Online. There are also a number of e-mail newsletters and daily publications that can be delivered directly to your inbox. Sign up for a number of them to track the news in the mobile industry and to learn about case studies and techniques.
Technology enablers and aggregators. Many of the technology enablers and aggregators you might partner with for application or service solutions will also help educate you on mobile marketing as part of their sell. My only advice is to absorb. These are experts who liaise with brands, agencies, and other technology enablers on a daily basis. They know their stuff.
Wireless operator agencies. All players in the mobile ecosystem are ready and willing to help in your quest for mobile knowledge. Again, these are experts who have been in the mobile space for a while and will be able to assist. Reach out.
Consultants. Like every sector, there are consultants who specialize in mobile marketing. Associations and technology enablers can refer you to these folks, who can help educate you or lead your company to some quick wins.
Consumers. Look around. You can learn a lot about what consumers are doing by just standing on a street corner and watching them use their mobile devices to engage with interactive out-of-home advertisements. Ask your friends, ask your kids. They may already be doing it.
Market research firms. Don't forget market research firms. They're a great source of information and education around emerging trends and the market overall.
Like "the knowledge" of London, mobile knowledge takes time to learn. This isn't the Internet. The opportunities, options, features, technologies, and business models vary by wireless media type, geography, and customer. Be patient, leverage the resources available, and have fun! Once you have mobile knowledge, you'll join a small but passionate group of mobile enthusiasts who are always more than willing to help.
Laura Marriott is executive director of the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), which works to clear obstacles to market development, to establish standards and best practices for sustainable growth, and to evangelize the mobile channel for use by brands and third-party content providers. The MMA has over 250 members worldwide, representing over 16 countries. Laura has over 14 years' experience in the high-tech industry. Prior to joining the MMA, she served as Intrado's director of marketing, where she was responsible for the development and delivery of Intrado's mobility products and service. Laura previously served as director of business development at Cyneta Networks and Cell-Loc Inc.