Mobile Marketing Experts Agree on the Fundamentals

Bryce MarshallLast week I was privileged to join a panel discussion with some of my very knowledgeable colleagues in the mobile marketing industry at Mobile Marketer’s Mobile Marketing Holiday Summit in NYC.
In the session prior to the panel discussion, Tom Davis from Kenneth Cole gave a very compelling keynote address on what their brand has learned in the last couple years with their leading-edge mobile solutions, and what they expect in the next few years ahead.

Between the two sessions, some very clear, consistent points resonated with me. Here are a few of the most important takeaways for brands and marketers – not just for coming Holiday Season, but for the next 12-24 months.

  • Mobile is not mass marketing… but it will be soon
    We are on the brink. If you haven’t been tracking the data on topics such as mobile device adoption in the US, mobile internet access penetration, device and OS types dominating the market, and so on, you may be blind to critical insights on how the consumer marketing and communications landscape is changing right in front of our eyes. It’s true… mobile marketing is not mass marketing today; however, within the next 2-3 years the lens through which consumers will view the physical and online worlds will have fundamentally changed. The wave is forming right now, as more consumers will access the internet through mobile devices than from wired devices (desktops, laptops) at some point in 2013 (as projected by Morgan Stanley).
  • Start small, start simple… but please just get started
    The question is not necessarily what solution or campaign you will have in market this holiday season, or how much revenue you’ll make in 2010. The real question is how much data, analysis and knowledge can you bank in the next 12 to 18 months, ensuring that when mobile is mass-marketing, that your brand will be off of its proverbial training wheels. How many test-and-learn cycles can you complete in this timeframe? So, it’s not the scope, scale and effectiveness of your first efforts that’s important – it’s making the first effort that really matters.
  • Ok, so you’re getting started… but don’t necessarily start with an app!
    The overwhelming consensus among the experts is that apps as a mobile strategy or tactical starting point is tremendously over-valued right now. All credit to Apple’s marketing machine. They have single-handedly created the app-envy syndrome. Otherwise reasonable and intelligent marketers are dumping money into apps without first aligning a tactical game plan that addresses an overall marketing strategy. The panel again and again advised the summit attendees to consider lower-cost, more efficient (and perhaps equally effective) options such as SMS, mobile web, mobile advertising, and others.
  • Don’t throw out your playbook
    The last consensus point I’ll summarize here is very simply that mobile does not necessarily require a whole new marketing playbook. A rallying cry from the panel (yours truly included) is marketers are too quick to throw out their current playbook, under-value their existing intelligence and insight, and forget the cornerstone attributes of their brand. Marketers can and should leverage the bulk of what they already know. The mobile landscape is not 100% different – it’s largely dictated by the same core competencies and strategies that have been proven across digital and retail marketing in the last 10 years. Rather, marketers need to understand the channel, but primarily adapt to consumer expectations and use cases. The consumer’s definition of high-value interactions in mobile may be slightly different than traditional online experiences (access, convenience, simplicity, speed), but once you understand this, many of the same principles will apply.

Getting started is imperative. Huge budgets and huge resources are not necessary – just ask Tom Davis at Kenneth Cole. Consider your objective for the next 6 months to simply get in the market and learn as much as you can now, so your brand is armed when the battle gets serious in 12-24 months.

And by all means, let me know how I can help.

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