Saturday, February 28, 2009

Mobile Marketing - Who Pays?

What a missed opportunity.

Like a lot of Canadians, I'm a hockey fan. Specifically, I'm a Canucks fan. Now that I live in Calgary, I'm starved for Canucks broadcasts, news and updates. Specifically at this time of year, I'd like to know about all the trades as the team gears up for the playoffs before the March 4th trade deadline.

So I started looking around to see if I could receive text message alerts when the team made a trade.

I went to the Vancouver Canucks website. Buried deep in the website I found the Canucks Mobile page, and learned that the Canucks do have a text-alert system. But it is all inclusive of live game alerts, goals scored etc. Now I don't get to watch too many Canucks games in Calgary, but when I do I usually record them on the PVR and watch them the next day; I don't want live updates of the game stats. So maybe lots of other people may want that service, but here's the worst part - they charge 15c per message to the consumer.

Let me get this straight. I'm a fan, I support your brand (even in this Flame-ridden Calgary market), I want to stay up to date with information about your brand, and you are going to charge me?

Forget that!
(If you happen to work in the Canucks marketing department, this is the time to call me for a discussion about text-message branding and costing models.)

Next stop was the TSN website. Maybe they could keep me updated about trade-deadline activity. Except I couldn't find anything.

How about Sportsnet? Ok yes, they do have a text reminder service. It's completely buried in their website and very difficult to find, but it's there. Specifically, I can subscribe to my favourite team (Canucks) and Sportsnet will keep me up to date with the latest team news.

Then I read the details. They're suggesting it will be 15-20 messages per week. Plus, they're going to charge me 25c each message.

Attention Sportsnet marketing department: Your entire branding goal is to be the authority on all things sports in Canada, especially hockey. And if it isn't, it should be. Here's a chance to confirm to me, a consumer of your brand, that you are indeed the authority on my favourite pro sports team. Don't charge me $5 per week to do this.
(Sportsnet marketing people - same message as per the Canucks above.)

First off, almost nobody needs 15-20 messages per week from thier brand of choice. For most brands, 4-6 messages per month is best. It is possible that in some sitations, some consumers (and this does include hockey fans) may want more than that. If it were me, I would let the consumer decide how many. Imagine that you sign up to receive text messages and you get a webpage with a list, each item with a checkbox next to it.
  • live game reports (every goal, as they happen)
  • live game reports (every penalty, as they happen)
  • period summary reports (once after each period)
  • post game summary reports (once after each game)
  • player trade reports (as they happen)
  • special event reminders (approx once per month)
  • contests/promotions (approx once per week)

If the Canucks offered the above options, the consumer could customize their brand interaction frequency to their liking. A simple user profile would allow them to come back and change their preferences at any time. This is really a no brainer.

Next, don't charge me money. So far in Canada, wireless networks do not charge for incoming text messages. For marketers, this is an ideal situation. There's no reason for your brand to charge them either.

The Canucks or Sportsnet (or TSN for that matter) could achieve much better traction with their consumer by providing this for free. Yes, it would cost them some money. But we're talking pennies a message to entrench their brand into the primary personal communication device of their consumer.

I know what you're thinking. If the mobile marketing model for consumer-pays is, for the most part, going to go by the wayside, are brands required to cough up the cash to keep themselves close to their consumer?

The short answer is yes.

The long answer is that they already do this, and pay very large amounts of money. Brands utilize television, outdoor, print, online and all kinds of other expensive methods. Many of them send us junk mail, which often goes from our mailbox straight to the round-file.

Let's compare to the cost of design, printing and postage to blanket everybody in a postal code, in the hopes that a certain percentage of consumers will be interested in your message. Clearly, mobile can offer a much more immediate, direct and targeted message for pennies a piece. And it can deliver that message to consumers who actually raise their hand and ask to be kept up to date with your brand. No wasted costs on consumers who aren't interested in your brand. This begins to sound a bit like a marketers dream.

So in the case of the NHL trade deadline, I'd still like to find somebody who would keep me updated. The Canucks and Sportsnet are both missing the boat.
(TSN marketing people - are you listening?)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Is Mobile Marketing the new Spam?

Absolutely not. At least, not yet.

A long time ago (way back in the 90s) when email marketing began, marketers were told that they now had direct and interactive access to consumers in an environment where consumer-preference and technology would come together to create strong brand-to-consumer bonds.

Did it happen? No.

Email marketing shot itself in the foot with spam. Consumers grew quickly tired of looking at their inbox and reading about enhancing their man-ness.

Now at the dawn of mobile marketing, will mobile marketers learn from that important lesson? It appears so, at least in North America. The Mobile Marketing Association has a well developed
Code of Conduct that, if followed, will prevent mobile from falling into the same pitfalls as email.

AT&T was recently outed for sending unsolicited text messages to previous American Idol voters. This received significant publicity in the US and set the stage for a healthy public debate.

Mobile has the opportunity to create the strong brand-to-consumer bonds that were promised of email. As long as marketers never spam consumers, only message opt-in consumers, and always offer an easy unsubscribe option. Further than that, mobile marketers must offer relevant, engaging and value-driven communications. If these basic guidelines are followed, the future looks good for mobile marketing.

Crystal Ball

May as well start this off with a bang. So I'm sticking my neck out and making some bold predictions about the world of mobile.

Will see double the mobile traffic of 2008. In fact, mobile traffic will double every year until at least 2013 when traffic will be 60-70 times as much as 2008.

Smartphones will respresent 90% of all phones purchased.

You will purchase a can of coke from a bluetooth enabled vending machine with your mobile phone.

50% of coupons redeemed will be paperless - delivered and redeemed via mobile phone.

There will be 500 million mobile TV subscribers.

Your phone will be your credit card, your AirMiles card, your gas card, your health card and your library card. Plus it will occasionally be a phone.


My first blog. My first post. What I am planning is a discussion of all things related to mobile marketing. Please feel free to comment, or to contact me directly.