B-to-b marketers—the really smart ones anyway—will lead the way and show consumer-focused marketers how to build mobile marketing strategies that deliver against company objectives and marketing goals. To some readers this may sound strange. They're thinking, “How in the world could the clunky b-to-b guys with low budgets and very small audience targets show the big-budget, audience-savvy consumer marketing guys how to do anything?” Here's how.
B-to-b marketers know their audiences. In some cases they actually know who they are, where they live and work. They have access to their e-mail addresses and maybe even their cell phone numbers. They live in a marketing culture that demands they pay deep respect to their audiences. They understand that they must be very careful about how they approach and market to the all-important recommenders and decision-makers.
The b-to-b market is light years ahead of the consumer world in terms of smartphone adoption and the use of mobile apps to influence purchase decisions. According to Forbes, 82% of U.S. executives carry smartphones, compared with only 28% penetration among U.S. consumers. The majority of these executives consider their mobile devices their primary business communication tools.
Smart marketers will engage their audiences through elegant campaigns that appeal to their interests and passions. They will craft messages that are on-target, seek a conversation, create a conversion and establish preference for their brands with this “executive consumer.”
So here's the point: Don't wait around trying to figure out a mobile marketing strategy. Mobile marketing is not a standalone strategy; it is an extension of the overall brand strategy. And very soon mobile will become one of the biggest elements of the marketing mix.
For decades, agencies and marketers told each other the aim was to establish strong relationships with a brand's best customers. Before the social media tsunami, the definition of “"relationship”" was that the brand spoke (through print, TV and radio) and marketers expected consumers to listen and follow orders.
We all understand those days are over. In an era in which consumers are talking back, asking questions and sharing opinions, mobile marketing is a perfect platform for b-to-b and b-to-c brands to interact and collaborate with their customers. This is a paradigm shift that customers have forced online; now, they want to do it on the fly.
The smart b-to-b guys will get there first. And as the success stories, case studies and measurement examples get broader exposure, the rush will be on as consumer marketers look to replicate the b-to-b mobile strategy as fast as they can. That will be the mobile marketing tipping point that started with b-to-b marketers pushing first.
Patrick Milan monitors consumer behavior and trends for clients of Tunheim Partners, a Minneapolis-based strategic communications agency. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.