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Is That a Brand in Your Pocket?
By: Ted Curtin
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SPECIAL REPORT - Part 1 of an in-depth five-part series capturing key issues and emerging trends from the 2011 Mobile Marketing Association Global Forum in NY.
Is That a Brand in Your Pocket?

Not since the proliferation of the PC has a single technological advancement come along with more potential to change not just the competitive marketplace, but the entire nature of the consumer landscape. The fact is that this revolution, unlike the PC explosion of the late '80s and '90s, is being largely driven by user demand for content and functionality, not corporations and marketers pumping what they see fit through a one-way channel. For that reason alone, we see so many organizations scrambling to catch up to the mobile technology bullet train that keeps moving increasingly faster.

To be fair, though, we’re really not just talking about a single technology, rather a masterfully choreographed symphony of technologies working in concert with one another to deliver information, facilitate transactional exchanges, elicit behavior, and enhance user experiences. The options range from mobile couponing and loyalty programs to augmented or enhanced reality. We’re already seeing widespread use of mobile for real-time price comparisons and smart retailers are employing sophisticated proximity marketing initiatives. With enhanced security built into newer phones, mobile transactions and even mobile giving for charitable causes have begun to take hold.

Always connected and always within arms’ reach, mobile is uniquely positioned to achieve the direct marketing trifecta of delivering the “Right Message” to the “Right Person” at the “Right Time.” Smartphones and feature phones are a potentially constant one-to-one link with your consumers. In fact, you can hardly call them phones anymore. They are information consumption resources, entertainment providers, and even publishing tools in their own right. The growing love affair between people and their devices, combined with some incredible new technologies, continues to raise the promise of the mobile channel.

Relevance Rules in Mobile Marketing
Nothing else provides so much opportunity to connect and engage at every point of the customer journey. Mobile’s horizontal reach spans from brand awareness to driving traffic to potential transactional interaction, but it doesn’t stop there. Its touch points can include extended customer relationships, product support, and spread deep into the realm of brand advocacy through social engagement.

As an example, Near Field Communication (NFC) technology is bound to have an impact on commerce as great as the cash register once did. Google’s Eric Schmidt has said that NFC should revolutionize e-commerce, but don’t think NFC is simply a transactional tool. What if NFC allowed you to see that your marketing efforts led to store traffic, but didn’t convert to sales? What opportunities does this present to further engage this potential customer...or identify misalignment between promotional messages, pricing, or product availability?

And yet, as specifically targeted and incredibly precise as mobile can get, the global reach that mobile represents is unprecedented. In some countries, mobile adaptation and mobile internet penetration are already above PC web access. It’s just a matter of time before mobile outpaces PC access to the web in the U.S.

A Second Chance to Get Direct Marketing Right
Marketers failed miserably with email marketing. With all of the potential information and insight we had, organizations still puffed their chests, “segmented” their distribution lists into mildly homogeneous buckets, and fired off gigantic email blasts as our way to “personally connect” with target customers.

With even more powerful real-time data streams and specific user intelligence, astute marketers better not blow this opportunity to provide real, meaningful, distinctly unique, and unbelievably relevant data that is not viewed by recipients as intrusive advertising, but rather contextually appropriate assistance to help people live better, richer, and more fulfilling lives.

For years we have lived under the shadow of an unfulfilled promise that technology would make life better and easier. Most people would argue instead that technology and computers have made life busier and even more complicated. Mobile has the potential to change that for the better.

Lou Paskalis, VP of Mobile Marketing with American Express reminds us that it is the users’ device. As brands, we are simply guests at the table, but if we provide useful features, relevant information, easy access and personal assistance, we’ll be more than welcome to stay for a while.
Up Next In This SeriesPart II  "Can Digital Technology Actually Save Print?"

MMA Global Forum


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About the Author
Ted Curtin is a recognized strategic marketing leader with over 22 years experience covering online and offline marketing channels. Follow him on Twitter or at TedCurtin.com
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