A New Definition for Mobile Marketing

by Susan Zweibaum on March 2, 2011

Years ago when I first started working in marketing and promotions mobile marketing meant literally a mobile event, often a truck or promotional vehicle.  I worked on many of these traveling exhibits that delivered an interactive experience for the consumer.  We handed out samples, supported PR events and delivered unique and interesting experiences for the consumer to engage in the brand.  Those in experiential marketing may still consider this mobile marketing.  To the new generation of marketers it means something else entirely.  To them, mobile marketing means the use of mobile devices such as IPhones, Smart Phones and tablet PC’s in marketing efforts.

Because of this difference in definition, whenever I see the term mobile marketing used in an RFP or in a job description I have to read it carefully to know which mobile marketing they are using.  Usually, it is not the mobile marketing I started my career with, but mobile media.  In fact, when I see the term mobile marketing now mean a vehicle I am often surprised. 

Then there is the changing face of coupons.  Once upon a time, a coupon was something in an FSI, Catalina or direct mail piece.  Now, we have online coupons, Groupon, Living Social and in-store Modiv media that provide discount offers to consumers through the internet, on a phone, on a retail scanner,  etc.  Couponing isn’t simple anymore. 

As marketers we need to be aware of and on the forefront of all the changing technology and terminology that is emerging.   In order to reach the consumer in this vast new media market we need to connect with them in the manner they are using media.  We must cut through the clutter in new and innovative ways.  Each new technology or website is an opportunity to drive a brand message and incent the consumer to purchase.   Does that mean that the “old ways” are cast aside?  Not at all.  The new marketing vehicles (no pun intended) simply provide new opportunities to broader our touch points to the consumer.  It means our toolbox is bigger and we have the ability to leverage the right tool to help meet the brand’s goals.

How do we do that since we older marketers didn’t exactly grow up with the technology?  Simple – we need to ensure that we get educated in what is now out there, what the new terminology means and be able to assess its potential along with our existing tools.  Listen to the vendors calling you up, read the articles and test the programs out yourself.  I recently joined Groupon just to see how it worked.

 I recently met a small business owner in the CPG world.  His company does well, but manages with a small staff.  He told me that he lets his young guns handle all the social and online marketing because he just doesn’t know how it works.  He learned his craft in the days when the internet was in its infancy.  I applaud how he is letting those that know do, but these young guns don’t have the marketing strategy experience he does.  My point is, we need to learn how all these new marketing vehicles can help drive our businesses and incorporate them into our broader strategies. 

Maybe social media isn’t right for the goal you are trying to achieve, maybe it is.  Maybe your target audience is older and likes clipping coupons vs. downloading them.  You won’t know unless you take the time to understand what these newfangled things are all about and how your target demo responds to them.  If you do, you won’t look silly and confuse mobile marketing for mobile marketing.

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