The Tablet: It’s Not Business, It’s Personal

Heretofore I have avoided tablets in my mobile strategy. They’re too…well…what are they? Neither desktop nor laptop nor phone, but a weird hybrid with some of the best features and limitations of each.

Well it’s time to put a stake in the ground. Here’s my take; give me yours and we’ll begin to write tablet marketing history together.

If you don’t already have a tablet, you need to get one immediately. While we marketers are not a good representation of the general public – we pay way more attention to advertising than regular people – you need to experience tablets in order to “get it.”

What you’ll see is that it’s not really a lightweight laptop. If your work day is spent in front of a computer, the tablet isn’t taking its place. The lack of keyboard, processing power, wireless range, ability to multitask, etc. makes it fall far short of our expectations of a business machine. Yes, there are those who will add keyboards and other peripherals to their tablets, but at the end of the day, aren’t they just trying to assemble a laptop?

It’s also not a large format smartphone. People don’ carry it with them 24/7 and, unlike a mobile phone, it’s likely to be shared among members of the household. According to Nielsen’s spring study, 43 percent of tablet owners report sharing it with others.

So what is a tablet?

It’s the ultimate personal entertainment device. You can use it for business, but it really shines during leisure hours. In the kitchen, it’s a cookbook; in the bedroom, it’s a book; on the road, it’s a mini entertainment center; in the family room, it’s a newspaper/magazine – a great way to browse headlines, sports, and sales.

There are myriad other uses, but you get the idea. I enjoyed the characterization of tablets in this excellent article as “…lean-back devices, meaning consumers are more likely to be in a relaxed mindset when interacting with a tablet.” This is supported by the Nielsen Q1 2011 Mobile Connected Device report with 70 percent of respondents saying they use their tablets while watching TV and 57 percent using it in bed.

The best news yet is for marketers. Many of our mobile tactics require no additional effort to be tablet-ready. Your mobile site and email program will render better on a tablet than a smartphone. Check-ins and QR scans are the province of the smartphone and not a consideration.

Effort does need to be expended, however, in application development. Do you need to develop an app for the tablet? Tablet users, while more likely to be young, affluent, and male, are rapidly moving to reflect the general population. Look to your website analytics to get a read on the percentage of customers accessing your site from a tablet to help make this call.

In addition to mobile marketing efforts; sales, customer service, and experiential marketing opportunities abound. Expect to see one-to-one interactions that take advantage of the compelling visuals and portability of the tablet. In the hands of a skilled company representative, this “lean-back device” can get customers to sit up and take notice.

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