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How mobile can help business-to-business marketers and retailers

June 6, 2011

Lori Colman is founding partner and co-CEO of Colman Brohan Davis

By Lori Colman

Many business-to-business marketers still remain tentative regarding mobile marketing, unsure of how to use mobile tactics. They may also believe that the medium is relevant primarily for consumer brands.

With smartphone adoption predicted to hit 50 percent this year, and as evidenced by the onslaught of tablets, the mobile device as first-screen-status is imminent – even for business marketers.

Need more convincing? Consider:

 More than half of devices connected to corporate networks will be mobile by 2015

 Mobile is already the preferred method to accomplish many tasks, especially social media engagement

 Mobile search is now an $8 billion industry, accounting for 11 percent of total search

Relevance in target audience’s lives
As Generation Y and Millennials move into the workforce, their on-demand lives come with them.

Already more than 75 percent of Americans take work-related devices with them on vacation, blurring the work/life division completely.

The top business uses currently for mobile devices are to search for information and view Web sites, access social media, texting, using applications and dealing with email.

Are your customers seeking ways to be efficient? Are they on the road a lot? Are they harder and harder to reach via traditional media?

If “yes,” then a mobile strategy is probably right for you.

“How can we make ourselves more relevant and our customers’ lives easier?” is the key question to ask.
Think about ways to help your customers stay engaged, make a decision, perform tasks and stay up to date.

As with any marketing initiative, mobile should be linked to your company’s business goals:

 Do you want to acquire new customers? Consider mobile search, mobile ads, QR codes and a mobile-optimized Web site and video demonstrations

 Engage with existing customers? Look at judicious use of SMS (text), news feeds and service links

 Penetrate new markets? Enhance your presence at trade shows through social/mobile campaigns that garner excitement and bring people to your booth or presentation

 Improve customers’ productivity? An app may be in your future

Mobile is not just for customers, either.

Your sales teams can be equipped with great presentations, including video content, all delivered via tablet.

Mobile communications – location-based apps and SMS – can improve the productivity of a remote sales team.

Big time for small screen
According to Forrester Research, by 2013 more people will access the Internet via a mobile device than through a PC.

What looks great on a computer screen – your Web site, emails, PDFs of brochures, even video – are often dreadful on a mobile device.

“Optimized for mobile” means content is easy for the mobile user to read and navigate – snappy, creative and to-the-point.

Boil your elevator speech down to the essentials. If you include video, make sure the subject matter is full-forward and easily viewed on a small screen.

It is easy to get in trouble if you do not play by the rules, and there are a bunch.

In essence, SMS is considered a form of telemarketing and regulated as such, so opt-in – and not via a third-party – is essential.

CAN-SPAM rules guide location-based programs. An ad is still an ad no matter how delivered, so if a disclaimer is needed you must find a way to include it.

Finally, there are privacy laws. Check out and the Mobile Marketing Association for best practice.

Finally, it is a good idea to have a marketing and communications attorney green-light your effort before hitting “send.”

BEGIN WITH a review of your business goals and an understanding of your audience’s behavior.

Develop programs based on audience needs and media consumption. Test, track and build a history.

Mobile marketing is moving toward mass adoption at an amazingly accelerated rate.

Right now, no one is an expert, but in every B2B industry, the first brands that adopt this medium will get lots of attention and, more importantly, a head-start on learning what works.

Lori Colman is founding partner and co-CEO of Colman Brohan Davis, a strategic branding and integrated marketing firm in Chicago. Reach her at

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