07 October 2014

Mobile Devices Are a Way for Consumers to Reach Brands -- Not for Brands to Reach Consumers

Here's something advertisers and agencies seem slow to understand:  Mobile devices are not a way for brands to reach consumers; they're a way for consumers to reach brands.

Consider that the mobile device — the smartphone especially — is a very private zone in a person's life.  They don't necessarily want ads of any kind invading that personal space.

But the smartphone is wonderful tool for consumers to invade your space as a marketer.  Via Internet searches, shopping apps, social media and conversations with friends, they do it whether you invite them or not.

So why not invite them?

Use Mobile to Invite Customers and Prospects

Customers and prospects can contact you via certain smartphone apps.  The most-maligned is QR codes.  In the picture below is a QR code I saw this past weekend on the back of a service vehicle in Chicago.  I can't think of any better example of consumer-UNfriendly QR codes than this photo from WTF QR Codes which also sums up why I avoid them.

Not much of
an invitation
At the other end of the customer convenience spectrum is Messaging — SMS, MMS, P2P and other emerging tools.  Most of these are built in to a smartphone and very familiar, but there are also newer apps like Kik that would be handy reaching a younger audience (like Ad Majorem's teenage children).

There's also social media, of course, but only invite people to "Follow Us On Twitter!" if there's a darn good reason.

If you are extending an invitation to consumers at retail, it may be time to look again at NFC.  Could it be coming back thanks to the iPhone 6?  I've been bullish on NFC ever since my first project back in 2012 but it's been traveling a stubbornly slow adoption curve.

Ask for an R.S.V.P.

Sorry to torture the "invitation" metaphor a bit, but using "R.S.V.P." as an abbreviation, here are some principles to keep in mind:
  • Response is the goal.  You're not going to rack up millions of "impressions" via Mobile (you might) but you may invite millions of customer interactions.  In other words, the quality of your audience, not the quantity, is what matters.  Think app dowloads, not ads served.
  • Start with your consumer.  When and where might they be looking for something useful, informative or entertaining?  That's your chance to engage.  This Forrester video describes how American Airlines designed their mobile app around their customers' travel experience.
  • Voice must be …inviting.  This past year during a radio interview, a local political candidate invited people to text him for more information — which I did, only to get an auto-reply asking for donations.  Since when do you invite people over and then ask them to pay?

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