In September, 2009, I had a rare opportunity to interview Michael Becker of iLoop Mobile, one of the luminaries in the field of mobile marketing. Michael not only works in the mobile marketing industry; he lives and breathes mobile marketing.
Here's an summary of part one of the 60 minute two-part podcast interview on MobileBeyond. You'll find the links to the podcasts below.
Passionate about Marketing and Mobile
When Michael isn’t cooking “mean lasagna” for his friends, he’s either flying, speaking or writing about mobile marketing, growing iLoop Mobile, one of the preeminent mobile companies in the world or advancing best practices via the Mobile Marketing and Direct Marketing Associations.
To Michael, mobile is the foundation of all communications going forward–whatever the mobile device--for personal use or commerce. He speaks of the “untethered engagement” as the central focus of one-on-one relationship marketing with mobile phone consumers. Unlike earlier days, he denies the previous paradigm (“if we build it, they will come”).
Mobile Marketing and Engagement
While reading Michael’s writings–-some academic–-you quickly sense his desire to change traditional marketing thinking (i.e. “tell consumers what they need; then convince them to buy it”) to “listen to what consumers tell us they want and engage them in a conversation”).
He's written: “We are entering a new era of marketing, one where the traditional rules and models are losing their effectiveness and one where customers have awakened to their new found power and control.”
Doesn’t sound like General Motors, does it?
According to Michael, the Internet and wireless technologies have shifted control to the customer. Customers are part of “value delivery” and high participation. Marketers must create “mutual value delivery” as interactive media, such as mobile, forces marketers to listen to consumers in real time.
Michael believes marketers must develop “collaborative conversations” with individuals who identify themselves as a target market. (Michael has 65 YouTube videos awaiting your viewing. You’ll find the videos well worth your time.)
Multi-Modal Communication Channels
Interactive media provide multiple modes of communication. Each mobile device, per Michael, is a different channel of communication that influences consumer response to marketing messages. An iPhone is not a BlackBerry; an LG feature phone is not a Nokia smartphone.
The operating systems, browsers, cameras, mp3 players, screen sizes are all different and affect direct response and other user behavior. Today’s consumers choose their preferred communication channels–mobile, email, Web, broadcast, or contact center.
If Michael were to re-phrase Marshall McLuhan’s well-known phrase “the medium is the message,” Michael would probably say that “the iPhone is the message” or “The G1 is the message.” (The mobile phone has the highest adoption rate of any communication channel in human history, now at 4.1 billion and growing to 5.5 billion handsets by 2013.)
Worldwide mobile Internet use has risen to 24% and substantially higher in the United States due to smartphones–the fastest growing segment of the mobile handset market. With newspapers in decline, consumers ditching land lines for mobile (80-85% U.S. penetration), brands are shifting their marketing budgets where consumers hang-out. And, in most cases, consumers are with their phones, accessing the mobile Internet, engaging with mobile applications and talking to their friends.
This doesn’t mean that mobile as a marketing channel stands alone. Smart marketers allocate their marketing and advertising budgets to achieve the higher response rates mobile provides as part of integrated marketing campaigns.
The Mobile Ecosystem
Mobile as a marketing tool is relatively young. To some marketers, mobile’s ecosystem of brands, ad agencies, mobile marketing firms, website designers, publishers, carriers, aggregators, ad networks, mobile email providers, application developers, regulators and end-users appears complex and challenging.
However, Michael says the mobile ecosystem is not any more complex than the Internet’s except, perhaps, the addition of mobile carriers. The mobile ecosystem began in 1983 when Motorola introduced the first cell phone and the GSM standard was established in Europe.
According to Michael, when the ecosystem began, it was naturally immature. Since then, the mobile ecosystem continued maturing similar to the Internet’s development.
Listen to an expert, visionary, entrepreneur and educator discuss the history and new era of mobile marketing on MobileBeyond.
(MobileBeyond podcasts are also available on iTunes.)