Developing a Mobile Marketing Strategy: Delineate A Territory Where You Can Be Unique

David Egger is Lead Marketing Manager for AT&T’s IRU (Individual Responsibility User) Mobility Programs. You can find more blog content from David and other experts on emerging technologies and mobile application on the AT&T Networking Exchange Blog. AT&T has sponsored the following blog post.


Develop your mobile marketing strategy
Samsung Galaxy SIII on AT&T

With so many options to promote your business today and an American economy that seems to be driven by advertising and its revenue, how does a small business develop a mobile marketing strategy and rise above the white noise? Michael Porter offers marketers some great advice for situations like these: “A strategy delineates a territory in which a company seeks to be unique.”

A first-year marketing professor will teach that Marketing is about 4 P’s – product, place, price, promotion.  While I can’t help you decide how to price your products in this blog, I can tell you that knowing your mobile marketing strategy as it relates to product, place, and promotion will help center your mobile marketing strategy.

Look Inward 

The first step in developing any communications about your company is to know exactly what you want to say about your products and services.  You do this by intimately knowing these parts of your business.  What is your product, who buys it, when do they buy it, how often do they buy it, what triggers those purchases?  Examining and answering these questions will get you quite far down the road from your competitors, as these are the questions that high-cost consultants will ask … and they are the questions most business owners won’t be able to answer adequately.

For example, is your product something not even sold to consumers?  Your mobile strategy will be vastly different than a mobile strategy for a consumer product.  Is your product something purchased on a whim, or a planned, expensive purchase?  This will determine how you design your strategy and optimize it for the type of customer that your business will serve best.  Is the buyer of your product someone younger or older?  While the elderly are joining social media in greater numbers, you’ll need to tailor your approach depending upon how your customers approach the mobile space.

Look Outward 

Once you know yourself, learn as much as you can about your competition.  Like all your competitors social media pages, download any mobile apps they may have, subscribe to their text updates.  Take notes on what they are doing, how they are presenting themselves, and how often they are touching customers.  This information will help you to understand norms in your specific area of business, as well as to see potential for improvement over their strategies.  Did one of their posts get lots of feedback and views while another didn’t?  What was different about the two posts?  If you were modeling something to get the same attention for your business, what would it look like?

Most important in looking outward is not to mimic what your competitors are doing, but to find ways to improve upon what they are doing.  You need to find your specific space, the message that will resonate with customers so that you are set apart from the competitors.  This is a different message in every space – a B2B company wants to occupy the role of industry leader, value pricing, superior logistics, or customer service.  A B2C company may want to express a role as a trusted advisor and expert, or you may want to present as a whimsical fun destination – all depending on where your business fits in relation to your competitors.

Stay Grounded 

After knowing your message and your competitors, you should start seeing where you can fit in and carve out your own space in the conversation. That’s where many mobile strategies go awry, as the potential to iterate and improve on competitors’ strategies can often run amok.  You need to be asking devil’s advocate questions to determine if you will really see the benefit from any given tactic.

If your competitor has a mobile app – what does it do?  Would a mobile-friendly website accomplish the same tasks?  What’s the competitor gaining by making it a distinct mobile app, and is that worth the significantly increased cost?  Depending on the type of customers you are pursuing, what your product is and how it sells to consumers, a mobile app might be a colossal waste of resources.  Any tactic could be a waste of time if you aren’t staying grounded and asking yourself if your customers will really care, almost taking on a cynic’s point of view.  Your customers are not dead baseball players – if you build it, they won’t necessarily come.

Execute and Iterate 

Once you know your mobile marketing mix, it’s time to execute.  Execution is never the end;  your execution needs to allow for controls and experiments to enable you to continue learning about your customers.  You can use special offers, different verbiage, alter your posting style, and more to determine what your customers are reacting to.  Does a 10% off coupon drive business as well as a BOGO offer?  Your margins may be the same on both offers, or you may need to correct for which is most profitable.  Do your customers share and like your postings and texts that contain a joke and don’t come off as sales-y, or do you have very price-conscious folks that only share and comment if it’s a special coupon or offer?

Check each of these tests against your idea of where your brand exists in the world.  If you think you’re a high-end lifestyle brand, but most customers  buy only when you’ve got a special offer – how can you work to segment those customers and build a set of loyal, but lower-margin customers, while still cultivating your high-margin customers?   Suppose you’re a value brand, but sales aren’t driving any more business for you – perhaps you could drive more margins by raising prices?

Your mobile marketing mix is not just a one-way street.  You are learning from your customers at the same time you’re selling to them.  It’s like a never-ending focus group with the consumer, allowing you to get better and better at making them happy, and driving more profits for your business.

Did your business follow a process similar to this when developing your mobile marketing strategy?  What are some of the missteps your business has made in implementing a mobile marketing strategy?   Have you learned anything about your customer base you didn’t already know as a result of your efforts in mobile marketing and social media?