How to Develop a Mobile Strategy for Your Small Business
Mobile marketing is not only changing the way major companies target consumers, it's also making it easier and more affordable for small businesses to compete against much larger brands across a broad number of industries. For this reason, the adoption rate of mobile marketing among small businesses has grown substantially in recent years. Madison Avenue now widely regards mobile marketing as an integral part of contemporary marketing for businesses both large and small.
What is Mobile Marketing?
According to the Mobile Marketing Association -- a global non-profit trade association representing all players in the mobile marketing value chain -- mobile marketing is defined as "a set of practices that enables organizations to communicate and engage with their audience in an interactive and relevant manner through any mobile device or network."
While the basic concept of mobile marketing -- reaching customers via their mobile phone -- is relatively straightforward, mobile marketing (and its tools and practices) has grown so sophisticated that many small business owners are understandably apprehensive about venturing into mobile territory. But luckily for those with the courage and foresight to go mobile before it’s too late, the first step in formulating a sound mobile strategy also happens to be the easiest.
Become a Student Before Becoming a Practitioner
If you think SMS is something you were vaccinated against during childhood, you're not alone. Although mobile marketing seems simple enough in theory, the tools of the trade are now as vast as they are diverse. But even if you've never engaged consumers via the mobile channel, there's never been a better time to get started. Step one: Head to your nearest bookstore to find a contemporary beginner's guide to mobile marketing. Several titles are available and any will give you a good, basic understanding of what you're getting into.
Determine Your Mobile Marketing Objectives
You already know your business. And now you've got a basic grasp of mobile marketing. It's time to reconcile the two by putting mobile marketing to work at helping your company where it's weakest. Are you looking to cultivate better customer relations? What about driving awareness of an upcoming promotion? Would a mobile version of your website be of value to your customers? Whatever your aims, mobile marketing can help. Although there's no end to what mobile marketing can do, a great deal of time, money, and energy can be conserved by first determining how mobile marketing can best assist your business based on its current marketing and promotional needs.
Going Mobile Means Going Social
Mobile marketing and social networking are a match made in heaven. With inexpensive and powerful social media tools providing businesses of all sizes with invaluable marketing leverage, mobile marketing strategies can often be driven exclusively by the skillful use of social networking platforms. Whether you employ cost-effective social networking tools like Twitter or invest heavily in a mobile application built for your business, social networking is aptly regarded by many as the backbone of contemporary mobile marketing.
Tap The Tools That Fit Your Budget
Employing the mobile marketing tools that best suit your budget may seem like a no-brainer, but many entrepreneurs and first-time business owners fall prey to the erroneous notion that a mobile marketing campaign must be costly for it to be effective. In reality, mobile marketing is only as expensive as you make it. From a few hundred dollars in a do-it-yourself effort, to a hefty six-figure investment requiring the help of veteran professionals, there's a mobile marketing campaign out there that can fit any budget. Only spend as much -- or as little -- as it takes to reach your previously established mobile marketing objectives.
Play It Safe and Keep It Simple
While there's no shortage of mobile marketing trendsetters in the modern advertising world, that's not something you need to concern yourself with today. When it comes to successful mobile marketing in small business, it's more important to follow than it is to lead, particularly with regard to established tools and practices. What works well for other businesses in your community will likely also work well for yours. This is why many small businesses employ text message marketing as their first mobile marketing effort. Unlike email marketing, mobile text message marketing enables small business owners to deliver exclusive offers, digital coupons, and other promotions or invitations directly to customers’ mobile phones. To that end, a growing number of consumers are becoming increasingly more comfortable with receiving text messages from the businesses they patronize. For this reason, mobile coupons now have a substantially higher redemption rate than their paper counterpart.
Constantly Evaluate Your Return on Investment
Without question, the biggest misconception about mobile marketing is that it's the silver bullet for all your company's marketing needs. Unfortunately, mobile marketing doesn't automate your marketing. It requires commitment, consistency, and competency. And there's an excellent possibility that your first mobile effort won't be your best or your last. Measure your return on investment every step of the way and be ready to tweak or trash your current strategy in accordance with your findings.
Don't Put All Your Eggs in Mobile Marketing's Basket
According to many of today's top mobile ad gurus, the biggest mistake small business owners make when first employing mobile marketing is believing that it can and should replace all other forms of advertising for a company. The initial rewards of mobile marketing may not be substantial. But with time and no shortage of trial and error, mobile marketing can result in greater brand exposure than you've ever experienced with traditional advertising. As a result, many companies now rely almost exclusively on mobile marketing for their advertising needs. But they didn't right away. And you shouldn't either.
Michael Essany is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.