my turn


Mobile Alone Is Not A Marketing Strategy

Technological advances have a way of simplifying our lives while simultaneously generating expectations that never existed before and adding complexity we never dreamed of. One of the best examples is mobile, and the impact that the now-ubiquitous cell phone has had on our lives. It's hard to imagine how we ever got through the day without a mobile phone and the instant communication it offers.

As smartphones become the norm -- smartphones being those devices that have an operating system and keyboard, and are really pocket-sized computers -- we now expect to not only communicate at will but also to connect to the Internet with all it has to offer when and where we choose.

Marketers have been watching mobile closely, waiting for the day when they can focus all their scarce resources on the mobile plan, and toss the rest of the "old media" out the window. It appears that 2011 will be the answer to those prayers.

But wait ... not so fast. While mobile is the biggest thing to come along in marketing since the Internet and television combined, it's far from the Holy Grail some believe it to be. Certainly, mobile deserves a clear role in our overall marketing strategy, but it is just one more medium to add to the mix. This means that the pie is now split even more thinly, because none of those "old media" touchpoints should be discarded.



What about print? Most print industry experts project the $200 billion global print market to grow by a full percentage point or more this year. What about television? While fragmented, TV allows greater targeting of an audience that spends an average of 40 hours per week watching the screen. Find someone who spends that kind of time on the phone.

The true value of mobile is in its always-on, always-connected, always-with-me nature, and the fact that it can help tie together those other media elements in a consistent manner that engages the target market more effectively. Mobile will continue to disrupt the marketing world, but it will replace nothing.

Mobile will also allow true real-time measurement of media effectiveness, for itself as well as other channels. As technologies such as Near Field Communications and augmented reality become widely available, they will add to the power of mobile, but instead of replacing other media, they will allow those elements to be more measurable and more effective.

If you've been waiting for mobile to finally arrive, 2011 is your year. But if you were hoping for this arrival to simplify things, you're going to be disappointed that life just became more complex, not less so.

An effective marketing strategy must now include mobile as an important element, with connections to all the other existing elements. Not only will mobile need funding, but making the most of what it has to offer will require greater consistency across all media. The benefits of mobile have yet to be clearly defined, but there's little doubt that they will be significant. Be warned: simplicity is not among those benefits.


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