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From Mobile Marketer – We have seen annus horribilis ad finem, now what?

Oct 6, 2009

Published in Mobile Markteter on October 5, 2009

A couple of weeks ago I had a great email exchange with someone I met online. Not that kind of online exchange, but in response to one of my opinion pieces.

Ten months later, Dave (who is also a contributor to Mobile Marketer) and I still have not met in person, but we have developed a lovely rapport – exchanging ideas on everything from how to fix the world, to writing a book on self-sufficiency to what is wrong with our industry (he is a marketer too).  A lot, we have agreed.

Let us start with resounding cop-out of the past annus horribilis – the recession.

It seems that anyone and everyone is, has or was using this as an excuse for their company’s ills – poor sales, fewer customers, loss of clarity. Take your pick.

To be sure, as an agency owner I have been affected too, but the truth of the matter is that marketing has imploded at the very time when “disruptive technology,” “forced innovation” and “reinvention” have become the catchphrases of the day.

Isn’t this cyclical? We grow, we learn, we stumble, we rise, we fail and then we start over, but with new visions and ideas about doing what we were doing in a far better and stronger way than before.

Creative destruction, right?

Old’s not mobile
Whether or not we can fully blame the capitalists for these boom-bust cycles is to be argued – are they in charge of market forces or are we? But it is part of our evolutionary process to fail, learn, adapt and change, and the reason why we are tweeting and texting today instead of faxing and telexing.

That is the conclusion we came to, and I have paraphrased some of Dave’s words here:

“So many marketing disciplines are going through major evolutionary changes with this recession. Many terms have baggage associated with them. Anything that is reminiscent of glut or waste is shunned.

“Marketing is associated with spending on advertising. Advertising is associated with blasting users with brand impressions that can’t be quantified. Market Research is associated with asking customers what they want in a world before you could watch their every move online via analytics.

“PR is another antiquated term that has become old-fashioned in the past few years. PR used to mean blasting out press releases and setting up interviews. Consulting has become a dirty word too.”

In reality, marketing is strategy, positioning, branding, competitive landscaping, and market-making.
Marketing is everything except engineering. It is the business.

So it is expected that these terms are being reconsidered, but the core value of what these disciplines are designed to deliver has never been more important.

Very insightful and very reflective of to what has happened to our marketing world over the course of a year, would you not agree?

Bottom line is that while we are running around trying to reinvent and find new ways of understanding what makes consumers respond to our marketing messages – sentiment analysis, come on guys! – the core values of all marketing disciplines, whether we are talking about direct, voice or online, are the same.

Deliver relevancy and value, and create and nurture special relationships between businesses and consumers.

So where is the mobile connection? Right here in 140 characters. Well, almost.

Measured results, immediacy, cost-effectiveness, value, engaging interactions, highly targeted marketing and reaching a receptive audience who actually choose to receive your messages.

These are the touchstones of marketing initiatives. If your marketing strategy is hitting even just a few of these, you are likely calling it a success. But these are the qualities that are inherent to the mobile channel.

Dialed in?
In terms of marketing, mobile boasts a unique combination of immediacy and intimacy that traditional channels cannot touch.

More than ever, mobile is proving that it has the ability to connect with consumers immediately – when brands need it most– and not three months down the line.

And you are going to witness this over the next six months as more big brands start acting, instead of waiting for others to make the first move. Why now?

Because they have no choice or be left behind.

That, and the prevalence of the mobile device makes this possible. Everyone has one or wants one, but everyone has one at hand.

This closeness makes mobile’s delivery intimate in a way that no email or banner ad can come close to.
Mobile, if done right, is a natural relationship builder.

Provide relevant messaging or offers, respect boundaries and consumer privacy, and create easy avenues for feedback and customer commentary, and you will have laid the groundwork for a positive, long-term relationship. Which is more than any television spot can deliver. No wonder the 2009-2010 upfront season was down by more than 20 percent.

As the recovery gets underway, the concrete results (read: sales) generated by good customer relationships will trump other high-overhead, flashier marketing and advertising tactics.

Direct connections and welcome, expected messaging will become more important to business growth than nebulous, oblique brand-building exercises and expensive media blitzes.

Mobile provides the platform for these strategies, without the superfluous hype –such as sentiment analysis – and other BS marketing buzzwords trying to make a breakthrough.

No, the only breakthrough brands should be thinking about when it comes to marketing as we head into the recovery phase is how they can integrate mobile into their strategies, to begin increasing their asset base once again and start to  build  and re-build solid relationships with their customers, old and new.

Because it is relationships that will determine which businesses prosper and which barely hang on through what is certain to be a long, slow recovery. And mobile can make those relationships happen quite quickly. It will soon ring a bell.

Mobile Marketer, October 5, 2009

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