Saturday, December 25, 2010

Where Mobile Cannot Succeed

Mobile cannot solve everything. Witness Hyundai, trying to use mobile to help take their brand upscale. The new model is the Equis, and the concept is that the owners manual is an iPad app. The iPad comes included when you purchase the car.

Neat idea. But there's a problem.

Hyundai makes some pretty nice cars. But they haven't yet overcome a brand image that is left over from when they made some pretty crappy cars. So while a premium car is nice to have, it's going to be difficult for Hyundai to sell. And the iPad and app is nice to have too, but that alone is not going to give Hyundai brand recognition on par with Mercedes Benz.

In fact, even Honda, Toyota and Nissan haven't tried to compete directly with Mercedes Benz. At least not with their primary brand names. It took the launching of Acura and Infiniti and Lexus brand names, with separate dealer networks for them to be able to compete. This is what Hyundai should do.

It's expensive to launch a new brand and a new dealer network. But it's even more expensive to wait for your brand to outgrow something as negative as Hyundai experienced in the 80s. Even though it's already been 20 years, it could take another 20.

I do think that they make some good cars. And I applaud their efforts with the iPad and app. But I don't think that alone is going to make Hyundai the next Mercedes Benz.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How the Mighty Have Fallen

Or, are falling.

Email was, just a short time ago, the primary method for marketers to interact with their consumer on a one-on-one basis.

However, recent research has demonstrated that in most age categories, email usage is on the decline.

So what does that mean? It means that email is starting to take a back seat to texting and social networking. Most especially in the youngest age categories. Instead of kids being cool for having an email address (10 years ago), now they are cool for NOT having one. Email is the new tin-can-with-a-string. And one thing that we know about young people is that over time they get older and move into the primary purchasing age categories.

With the convergence of social networking and the mobile environment (watch for a post on this soon), it means that marketers need to be going mobile.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cinqo de iPhone

Recently we reviewed rumours of a new iPad. It seems that a new iPhone is not far behind.

Expected in April or May in the US, the iPhone 5 has reportedly begun production in China. Of course, many will wonder what new features the iPhone 5 will have. Personally, I just want to know how many Gizmodo employees are going to he hanging around bars at closing time in the Cupertino, CA area.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Apple is consistent with their release of updated items almost exactly 1 year after the last version. Given this, we should expect a new iPad in the spring of 2011.

DigiTimes, a Taiwanese newspaper, recently reported that Foxconn Electronics (a manufacturer for Apple) will begin shipping version two of the iPad in March. Given the recent activities regarding the Samsung (Android) and Blackberry tablets, Apple may be keen to stay competitive in this category.

So what new features will the iPad 2 have? To discuss this, we can review what the first iPad didn't have, primarily a USB port and a camera for video conferencing. What are your thoughts?

Apple has sold over 14 million versions of the original iPad. One wonders how many owners of the current iPad will purchase version 2.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

More Location

Back in September I wrote a post about location-based mobile marketing activities. Turns out I'm not the only one who thinks that location offers the greatest opportunities.

Given the nature of mobile devices, especially that they are virtually always on and virtually always with the consumer at the time of purchase decision, location technology is quickly growing into a huge opportunity for marketers.

It seems that the writers at the Mobile Marketing Association have been reading my blog. A recent article by Vanessa Horwell agrees with my thoughts. Entitled Location-based Marketing is Poised for Growth, it predicts that location based marketing activities will grow from this years projected $200 million to a staggering $6 billion in 2015.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Cellular Phone - the Wave of the Future?

This spot from 1988 is terrific. Most of the predictions are spot on. Enjoy...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Text 313131 SWISS

Swiss Chalet recently launched a mobile coupon promotion. I noticed it advertised on the back of a bus here in Calgary. The headline at the top of the ad proudly pronounced:

Text 313131 SWISS


Being rather involved in mobile, I gathered that the coupon could be had by texting 'SWISS' to 313131. But not everybody is going to know this.

It's great that mobile is being tried out by a franchise like Swiss Chalet, and that they are using text-message coupons as an entry point to reach the consumer. But seriously, what were they thinking putting that as the headline?

It's a real shame, because some significant money was probably spent setting up the campaign and even more so promoting this across the country. Some corporate executive, at the end of the campaign, is going to look at the results and conclude that mobile couponing is not effective.

It's a great example of how mobile activities need to be properly supported by other media. And the failure of that media will ensure the failure of the mobile activity.

Another problem: after I sent the keyword to the short code, I got the coupon back from them. Great, now I can go redeem the coupon at Swiss Chalet. But they neglected to ask me permission to send me further coupons, specials and notices. Another waste. The entire point of mobile is to develop two-way, interactive relationships with your consumer via their most-used electronic device.

I didn't have a camera with me, but I'm going to take one with me wherever I go for the rest of the week and try to find a bus with the ad. However, if you see it and send me a photo, I'll be sure to post it up here with proper photo credit.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Point of Sale Fail

Some studies have shown that 70% of final purchase decisions are made at the point of purchase. In some categories it's likely much higher than that.

I recently went to the local grocery store to purchase some taco chips. I was taking them to a gathering of friends with some homemade guacamole that I was planning to make. As I studied the various brands on the shelf, it struck me that a real opportunity is being lost by marketers of taco chips.

So imagine for a moment that you are a package of taco chips on the shelf at the local Safeway. Consumers walk by you all the time from 8:00 AM until midnight. All you want is for someone to pick you up and take you home with them. How do you convince them?

Some of these consumers are specifically looking for taco chips but don't have a specific brand in mind. They'll stop and inspect the taco chip section and make a choice. Others will notice the taco chips on the shelf as they are going past and make a impulse decision to purchase some.

How do we convince them to choose you?

To do this, we have to understand taco chip consumers. The purchase decision process for taco chips (and everything else) looks like this:

1) recognition of need
2) information gathering
3) review/assess options
4) purchase
5) product usage

Without doing comprehensive research, we can make some assumptions about taco chip consumers, specifically in reference to stage 5 above. Taco chips are a social food, served in a shared bowl. They are rarely eaten plain, but most often with salsa and/or guacamole. Taco chips are a common food at social gatherings. In my case, I had planned to make some homemade guacamole to take to a friends house.

What is the core need of the consumer, in this case? Well primarily as consumers we all want to feel good about ourselves and our purchases; in this case, a pat on the back from friends about the tasty chips and guacamole.

How can you, as a package of chips, help me with this? The answer is dead simple.

If you provide a point of sale reference to a tasty guacamole recipe, this will likely sway my decision. But printing and supplying recipe cards at the point of sale is expensive (and not terribly environmentally friendly). The answer is a simple 2D barcode on the package which will send my web-browsing mobile phone straight to your guacamole-recipe mobile website. I can scan the barcode right in the Safeway aisle, immediately viewing a list of all required ingredients to purchase while I am shopping.

Of course, taco chips are just one of thousands of categories in the grocery store. With so many purchase decisions being made right in the aisle, and such a high percentage of consumers who have mobile devices in their pocket while they are making those decisions, nearly any product in any category at the grocery store could benefit from some form of mobile marketing activity.

Most, however, don't pursue this. Such a shame.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

This Just In...

Marketing Daily is reporting on a Forrester Research survey that claims that the mobile device is the most used electronic device.


I hope they didn't spend too much money figuring this out. They could have given me just half of it and I would have told them the same answer.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Location, Location, Location

Mobile Marketer Daily recently published an article entitled 7 Key Trends Mobile Marketers Need to Know. This was a review of a keynote speech by Noah Elkin, senior analyst at eMarketer New York.

Go ahead and read the article. Or I'll give you the Cole's notes version here:

1) Mobile usage has become pervasive
2) Mobile devices and platforms have experienced dramatic evolution
3) The device market is shifting in favour of smartphones, and the US is driving much of the demand
4) Increased ownership of smart devices is driving mobile internet growth
5) Communication modes are undergoing a significant shift
6) The base of mobile content users will continue to see strong growth
7) Tablets are changing the face of mobility and computing.

Mr Elkin is correct in all respects. But I believe he has missed one large trend. He speaks briefly of location as a component of #5 above. I think it is more important than that, deserving of it's own category:

8) Location is everything, and marketers are starting to utilize this feature.

Most people, when they forget their wallet at home, borrow some cash from a colleague and get through the day. When they forget their phone, they go home and get it. People simply cannot be without their phones at all times. Since it's always with them, it offers marketers a way to know where their consumers are.

Although it sounds a little 'big-brother', in reality its a good thing for marketers and consumers alike. Location, combined with permission-based marketing, is a recipe for relevancy. Consumers will never complain about privacy or intrusion when the message sent to them is both requested and relevant.

For example, if you like to shop at the Gap, and you are always on the lookout for the latest jeans, you wouldn't mind a message from the Gap when you were near one that informed you of the latest product lineup or sale. You would only get this message if you agreed to receive them in the first place, and if you changed your mind you would be able to unsubscribe and never be bothered again.

Self-selected consumer messaging plus a device that's always on and always present with the consumer equals a whole new marketing ballgame.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Google Ownes

I came across this chart on the Mobile Inc blog. It pretty much sums how to decide on which search engines are (is!) most important when developing optimization.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mobile and the Environment

Somebody asked me the other day about how mobile activities in general, and mobile marketing activities specifically, are impacting the natural environment.

It's a good question. Certainly used and outdated electronic equipment such as phones, PDAs and other mobile devices leave an impact on our planet. And these days, it seems that any phone is out-of-date and will need replacing at least every two to three years. Canada has over 21 million cellular phones in service and replacing each of them every 2.5 years, on average, puts 8.4 million phones into the landfill every year.

However, each phone is capable of delivering literally millions of advertising impressions during it's 2.5 year life cycle. These impressions, if not available electronically, might otherwise be delivered via print media.

And it's not just advertising. It has been estimated that one Sunday edition printing of the New York Times consumes 75,000 trees. Over 90% of that paper ends up in a landfill, along with all the toxic inks that have been put on it. Those 75,000 trees, if left uncut, would filter 4.5 million pounds of pollutants from our atmosphere every year.

So by purchasing the mobile device such as an iPad, and canceling your daily newspaper subscription, you are helping the planet. And that's good for everybody.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Apple this, Apple that.

No doubt that Apple is one of the biggest players in the mobile arena. It's leadership with mobile devices is indisputable.

In January, there was the much anticipated iPad announcement, with all the usual Apple dog-and-pony show. A while later they were at it again, this time with the iPhone 4 and iOS 4. Now just yesterday, a third big announcement with, get this... new iPod Touch, new iPod Nano, New iPod Shuffle, new Apple TV and new iOS version 4.1.

Try saying that 10 times quickly.

Leading up to the big iPad announcement in January there was much anticipation, speculation and discussion. This was good for Apple. But how many times in one short year will consumers pay attention to another 'big' announcement from Apple? And even more so when the big announcement isn't a big announcement at all, as in the most recent case, where it was a series of smaller ones with no real focus.

Nobody can deny Apple is a leader. But to maintain that position, they must continue to produce what made them successful in the first place: elegant technology products that are simple to use and give 'street cred' to its consumers.

Monday, August 30, 2010

How long?

Yes it's been many months. Sorry, I was just that busy. I have a little more time now so I'm going to resume posting here. Hopefully I will share some information that will be useful to you. Stay tuned...

Friday, January 29, 2010

Reaction to Apple's iPad

The iPad has been announced. It's not an iPod Touch, and it's not a laptop. It's something in between.

So what are the reactions? Following the blogosphere in the past few days, here's some general comments that seem to be commonplace:

1) It's cool. Great show-off-to-your-friends factor.

2) No camera. Why wouldn't Apple include a camera? Mobile videoconferencing would seem an obvious application.

3) Does not support Flash. Now this is really a sticking point. Steve Jobs called the iPad the best possible web viewing experience. Except that for every web page that has a Flash header, the iPad will just display a dull grey box. How is that the best possible web viewing experience?

4) No USB connector. Yes, the iPad only has the iPhone 10 pin connector. While a USB connector should have been included, this has enabled Apple, and it's hardware developer partners, to launch a whole string of support items.

5) iPhone OS. Not OSX, or some new platform, but iPhone. So how will you work on that proposal document while on the airplane travelling to a conference.

Processing power for the iPad comes from Apples new A4 chip (unrelated to Audi). The big question in my mind is will this new chip come inside the 4G iPhone, scheduled for release this month?