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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Social Media and Your Neighborhood Cheese Shop

by Susan Zweibaum on February 23, 2011

Recently, I have started “friending” some of my favorite local stores that I go to repeatedly.  I had been slow to the practice wondering what the point was (I am not one of those early adopters), but have discovered that I like seeing the updates of the “special of the week” or announcement of a big store event.  Whenever my favorite gourmet cheese shop downtown posts the special cheese they are sampling it often gets me into the store to try it and ultimately buy it.   I used to get all of these via email, but find I like the Facebook announcements.  So, what does this say about social media and how local businesses use it?

In this recent article businesses indicated that they are increasing their use of Facebook, but other sites such as Groupon, Foursquare and Living Social are not being used to their full potential.  (Click on image to go to article)

Additionally, the survey indicates that consumers do react to local deals and information to drive them into the store (just like I do).  What then is the disconnect between consumer behavior and retailer marketing methods?

What I have encountered speaking with local retailers as well as small local businesses such as real estate agents and consultants is they just don’t know what these vehicles are or how to use them.  They don’t have any real money to spend and are fearful of taking the leap.  What’s more, they are all really concerned about the time it will take to utilize things like Twitter, blogging and online offers and they claim lots of technology ignorance.

There are always early adopters both from a marketers and a consumer standpoint.  Those that fall into this early adopter camp take the biggest risk, but also can reap the biggest rewards.  The younger generation is more likely to try the new technology especially mobile marketing and these are often the ones who are spending the bucks. Moreover, it appears based on some recent research that fewer and fewer of this younger set are using email, thus, making email blasts potentially obsolete.  They use texting or email on Facebook instead so you need to talk to them where they consume the media. 

If Twitter and Facebook are getting more of the lion share of local online marketing it is most likely because they are low-cost (free), easy to master and part of our daily vernacular.

When I speak to these small retailers and small businesses I use a variety of techniques to get them into the modern age to use social media to grow their businesses. 

  1. Help them get over their fears:  Not easy, but it is a matter of not just explaining how things work, but actually demonstrating the ease and speed with which these things can be done.  Share some data on success stories and survey data and they will be more easily swayed.
  2. Provide a reasonable timeline:  Building a large enough database through viral marketing techniques takes time.  Even if they use their email list to drive more eyes to the offers it will take a while for those other than the early adopters to start acting.  Don’t expect an immediate response.
  3. Test Offers:  Building on the “it takes time” idea, the first offer doesn’t always work.  It often takes a few different offers until you find the one that will resonate with consumers and drives them to purchase. Keep trying until one gets the ROI they want.
  4. Start Slow and Add On:  If the business is entering social media for the first time they should start slow and get comfortable.  Most likely they have a website.  Start by adding Facebook and Twitter and connecting to the website.  Get them familiar with the vehicles and then slowly add on additional offer sites.  Balance it with some SEO and paid search at a local level where they are more open to spending.  Then test replacing a direct mail piece with an online offer.  Show the potential ROI of doing the social media over the direct mail.  It will probably be very eye opening for them.

Eventually, from a retail perspective it all comes down to customer service, product offerings in store and the economy.  Do those things right and you have a great chance to succeed.  Additionally,  if local retailers then leverage emerging social media marketing tactics as a way to drive growth on top of  the basics they are more likely to increase their success.

Would love to hear of examples of how social media has driven local retailer success.