Mobile Strategic Planning Is Not Optional

Josh GordonMany companies are choosing to sit back and take a "wait and see" approach to strategic planning for the mobile communications channel. There is comfort in the notion because the technology is evolving so rapidly it appears as though attacking the channel in a piecemeal fashion is the right approach. Marketers, however, must resist this temptation and craft a complete, inclusive, and well thought out mobile strategy.

As with many of the challenges facing modern and sophisticated marketing organizations, the old battle of “who owns what” comes into play when thinking about developing a mobile strategy. Mobile, because it is still new(ish), often gets lost in the fray. Mobile is, arguably, the most direct and personal line of communication a brand has with a consumer. Therefore, a strong case for marketing shouldering the responsibility of the mobile channel can be made. But realigning can be hard.

I recently read about DuPont’s substantial 1921 management shift in Richard Tedlow’s Denial. The then-venerable company was facing a crisis as it added new products that were different from its core competencies. The personnel in the entire organization was aligned functionally, and not around products. As a result, DuPont’s sales for its newest product line – paint – were flagging, and the company was losing money in that division. When DuPont made the long, slow transition to an product centered alignment (which was ideal for that era of business), rather than personnel function, sales for paint improved dramatically – and even survived the Great Depression.

Marketing organizations have a similar decision to make now as mobile is a mandatory marketing channel. Will the direct digital arm of the marketing organization be aligned by channel discipline – email, Web, mobile, etc. – or will it be aligned with a focus on the customer? If customer focus is the mantra, then mobile must be owned by marketing.

If marketing rightfully owns mobile, then a complete plan – including a breakdown of a separate mobile marketing mix – is crucial to sustained success in the channel, and with the consumer.

Take a quick pass at successful retailers, for example, and it is easy to see which organizations have embraced planning for mobile, and which are employing a piecemeal strategy. Macy’s has an excellent mobile strategy that spans the mobile Web, device specific apps, and a smattering of SMS at a more local level.

Of course mobile strategy and success is not limited to the retail sector, either. I have seen cable and telecommunications giant Charter Communications have success by leveraging an entire mobile strategy that spans SMS, the mobile Web, and apps. The hallmark of each tactic is an intense focus on creating convenience for the consumer, which is smart given that mobile is best suited to deliver on that all-important marketing mandate.

Mobile success is possible when a deep understanding of the personal-nature of the channel is diffused throughout the marketing organization, and therefore a major influence on the strategy. Marketing must own mobile, and it must earn the right to retain ownership through smart planning and superb execution.


  1. Posted July 6, 2010 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    Completely agree that companies MUST have a mobility strategy in place. This is not just in terms of mobile applications for B2C (e.g. creating an iPhone app), but also how they deal with mobility internally as another IT endpoint. This is why we created The Enterprise Mobility Forum, to provide that education resource and community dedicated to enterprise mobility.

    • Posted July 6, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      Completely agree that apps are a single entity within a larger mobile strategy. It seems that some organizations create such momentum behind “getting an app” that the bigger picture – and bigger opportunity to connect with customers – can be completely missed.

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  1. […] a Good Mobile Strategist Recently I wrote about how a complete mobile strategy is not optional for marketers expecting success. At the heart of that strategy must be a complete understanding of […]

  2. […] that marketers avoid the urge to attack the channel in a piecemeal fashion, and instead create a holistic mobile strategy that focuses on the […]

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