Mobile Marketing: The Next Big Thing

David Allison predicts that the next new scary channel will be mobile marketing. Brrr you just received a new text message...

David Allison predicts that the next new scary channel will be mobile marketing. Brrr you just received a new text message…

I don’t want to pretend to be some kind of marketing Nostradamus, but I’m going to make a prediction. Once social media becomes mainstream and everyone stops prattling on endlessly about it, the next scary new channel for all of us to wrap our head around will be mobile marketing. Mobile marketing is nothing more than messages that show up on your mobile phone.  For those of you who don’t have this on your radar yet, you need to pay attention to this blog post. You’d best be prepared.

There were 4.1 billion mobile phone subscriptions in the world at the end of 2008. That’s subscriptions – people actually using their phones – so it doesn’t include the ones in my desk drawer that will never see the light of day again. And unlike computers, most people have a phone with them at all times. Moreover, people tend to read text messages immediately, unlike emails or voice mails, which increasingly we save for later.

Now imagine if your company could send updates, links, videos, and sales information to customers and fans as text messages. If you could motivate a sales force with minute-by-minute updates on account wins. If you could motivate a database with special offers, 60 seconds from right now. It’s already happening, to the tune of $391 million in spending on this medium in the USA in (2009). And that number is predicted to grow by 35% over the next 5 years. The privacy act dictates that you can only send messages to those who request it, so don’t be worried that you are going to be swamped with unsolicited text spam, but you will be engaged with mobile marketing as a consumer, if not already, then very soon.

“Mobile is like direct mail on steroids. It’s personal, immediate, and fantastically intrusive,” says Amielle Lake, co-founder and CEO of Tagga Media Inc., a Vancouver-based company that sells advertising agencies a platform to launch these campaigns on behalf of clients (full disclosure: my company, Braun/Allison Inc. has purchased this system, and it rocks). “It’s still an emerging medium, but once marketers see what it can do, they are hooked.”

The Fortune 500 are all experimenting with this. Thousands of geeks in thousands of basements are developing applications for your mobile phone. Major consumer brands are investing significant resources to try and be at the front of the wave. At Braun/Allison we’ve used it on real estate project hoarding and in print ads as a way for pedestrians and drivers to register for more information or prizes (try it: text the word CENTURY to 82442). We’ve used it to promote restaurant chains, and push out special offers (Want a free entree? Text GLOWBAL to 82442). We’ve even used it in a very rudimentary way to promote One Brand Clapping, the very blog that you are reading right now (text ONEBRAND to 82442).

As far as I’m concerned, it should be a response mechanism on every print ad, direct mail piece, billboard, and bus side that we produce for every one of our clients. It makes all mediums interactive. Every one of your customers has a mobile phone, they all know how to use text messages, and they read text messages right away. This will become a part of your marketing program…maybe not today, but someday sooner than you think. Are you ready?