When I was a child I remember visiting my grandmother early on a Sunday so we could spend most of the day together cooking for our traditional Sunday family dinner. At 8PM she would leave the gathering to go sit down next to the phone in her den. The phone would ring and it would be her sister calling from Central America at this agreed upon time. With the rise and ubiquity of mobile phones today this type of scheduled engagement has all but disappeared. We can now reach out and "touch someone" anytime no matter where they are.
Marketers are still trying to figure out what this ubiquity all means; with this new opportunity comes many myths when it comes to marketing to these devices. Mobile will be the next biggest thing in consumer connection but it has much growing up to do.
Here are four myths that are prevalent today:
1) The mobile phone is a stand alone marketing channel
I was talking to Jean Berberich, Consumer Solutions Innovation Mobile AdLab, from P&G the other day and she was telling me that the "Mobile does not stand alone. It's really a strategy not a channel. It's a response and measuring tool that spans across all traditional marketing channels. The mobile industry (vendors, carriers, agencies) is still trying to figure out what the "brands" mobile consumers really need, and what compelling need we could offer that drives the consumer to engage and continue a relationship with a brand. How many successful on-going mobile brand campaigns are you aware of?" I could not have said it better-- thank you Jean.
2) Everyone is watching video on their phones
Mobile video has been hyped in the press and interest across the industry is very high. The reality is there are few people participating in mobile video. MobiTV (the biggest) has approximately 1.2 million subs but if you believe a report (can you name the report?) by Knowledge Networks only 50 percent of subscribers are actually using their subscription. Mobile video is coming but the killer application has yet to arrive.
3) It takes 12-14 weeks to get a mobile campaign going
This is true if you are doing an SMS based campaign that involves vanity short codes but it is now possible, using what is called a shared code, to get mobile activated fast. So fast that it can be done in a day or two if you use a vendor with a DIY campaign tool. Examples of a few vendors who have this DIY tool are iLoop Mobile, Soap Box, Marvelous, and Movo. The four mentioned also have some sort of rudimentary CMS which allows you to get a mobile web site up very quickly.
4) Mobile is hard!
When my grandmother who taught me how to cook was showing me how to make a béchamel sauce, she said that it would seem hard at first, but once I mastered the technique it would be a snap! This is also true with mobile: Mobile is so easy it is simpler than doing an email. Like that béchamel sauce everything tends to have a mystery aura to it until you make your first one. Don't let anyone let you think otherwise.
The mobile phone has become ubiquitous, you can use it as a strong strategy piece to many marketing initiatives, and the basic recipe involved in getting to market are easier than one might think. But like my grandmother waiting for her sister to call I am still waiting for the mobile to grow up and stand on it's own two feet.
Gene Keenan is VP of mobile services at Isobar International. .