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This year may or may not be the "Year of Mobile." The media mavens have been making the prediction every year for, well, we forget. But does the annual decree really matter, anymore? Mobile marketing is on a steady trajectory upward and, however gradually, is fundamentally changing consumer behavior. In 2011 mobile usage grew 30%, compared with 2010, to more than an hour-per-day compared with just 44 minutes for magazine and newspaper reading, which fell a combined 12%, according to eMarketer. Christina “CK” Kerley, who specializes in B2B mobile marketing, spoke with BMA Buzz about where mobile goes from here.
BMA Buzz: Why is it so important for B2B marketers to understand that, in order to execute on mobile, it’s not necessarily about changing technologies but recognizing how technology is changing us, as a culture. Can you elaborate?
Christina “CK” Kerley: The mobile revolution is not about how we are changing technology in favor of mobile; it’s how mobile technology is changing us. It’s changing everything — how we live, work, learn, communicate, research and purchase.
And it’s not the devices; those are just the screens. It’s anytime-anywhere-always-on media. Now that we can get any information at any time, our habits, preferences, expectations and thresholds have dramatically (and permanently) changed. So, B2B companies that don’t understand how mobile technology is changing us (not Vice versa) are failing to align their marketing and communications with the biggest shift in behavior that we’ve ever witnessed.
BMA Buzz: Why do you think B2B companies have been slow to move into mobile and what’s the danger among companies that procrastinate?
Kerley: Given all the B2C coverage on mobile, B2B marketers have not yet connected the dots on how mobile uniquely applies to their audiences — but the opportunities are no less powerful with executive audiences who have been mobile far longer than consumer audiences.
The danger of not integrating mobile into the B2B marketing mix is twofold, spanning ROI and relevance. Think of it this way: Currently there are 5.3 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide (that’s more than the number of TVs, landlines and PCs combined) with mobile set to be ‘first-screen’ for all Web activity by 2013. Since mobile is the one device that is always with our audiences — when was the last time you saw an executive sans a smartphone? — and the one device that’s always connected to the Web, why would any company, B2B, B2C, B2G or otherwise, not look to leverage mobile in order to deepen experiences, provide value and develop relationships with their target audiences.
BMA Buzz: For B2B marketers, what should be the top priorities for developing a legitimate mobile strategy?
Kerley: B2B companies need to (1) identify how to extend their brands’ core value proposition to the anytime-anywhere world, (2) pinpoint how the robust array of mobile tools — across SMS, MMS, apps, augmented reality, mobile image recognition, QR codes and more — could make the work activities of their executive audiences better, faster and easier and, just as with all their other marketing efforts, they must (3) determine how to differentiate themselves from the mobile efforts of their competitors.
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