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?)

1 comment:

  1. hey steve! nice blog. very well written and engaging!!

    i think images or photos would also help bring readers into each post :)