Think Small to Win Big

I’m fairly certain Pete Townshend wasn’t referring to smartphones and tablets when he wrote “Going Mobile” more than 40 years ago, but the dude was right.

Mobile technologies and capabilities have undoubtedly made leaps and bounds over the past few years. Remember how savvy you thought you looked with your BlackBerry (no offense to those who still chat via BBM)? While your Curve 3500 is collecting dust in a shoebox, your iPhone 6 is getting more play than Angry Birds. So, what’s in store for the reigning champions of digital marketing and advertising?

Mobile is no longer a “nice-to-have” in the marketing mix. As it continues to expand its role as a connection and convergence device, mobile should be at the core of brands’ digital ecosystems. However, traditional media like print, TV, and radio still attract the lion’s share of advertising budgets across industries. To put it simply, dollars spent on mobile marketing don’t add up to the time we religiously spend on our devices.

Companies need to shift gears–but not go full throttle into one direction. Mobile marketing cannot be treated like desktop marketing—or any other channel, for that matter. Mobile is more than a medium. It’s an extension of the owner; a vital personal accessory; the one you inevitably say “good night” and “good morning” to; the one who wakes you up in the middle of the night because it needs your undivided attention; the one who isn’t creeped out if you ask for directions or advice. Admit it: You are madly in love with your phone. (Fact: 75% of Americans admit to bringing their phone to the bathroom.)

Consumers who search on mobile devices are more likely to take action. eMarketer conducted a study in May 2014 and found that 50% of consumers who conducted local searches via smartphone visited the store within a day, whereas only 34% of desktop and tablet searchers combined took the trip. Additionally, 18% of local queries on smartphones ultimately led to a purchase. As consumers, our increased emotional dependency on our mobile devices is raising the bar high for brands, and it will continue to heighten as we become more reliant on products and services information that is literally at our fingertips. We frequently switch between our devices throughout the day—desktop at work, mobile on-the-go, tablet everywhere between—to search, shop, communicate, read, and accomplish tasks. We not only want, but also expect, brands to keep up with our wavering demands and quickly provide the information we need whenever and wherever we need it. With this, brands should not focus solely on mobile devices. Instead, they need to create appropriate messaging that suits their consumers’ ever-changing multi-device behavior.

Here’s the magic spell to mobilizing mobile: Marketers must tightly weave mobile into their foundational brand and digital strategies as well as pay close attention to how, when, where, and why consumers are on their gadgets in order to serve them the information they need at all the right moments. Thanks to mobile, we are able to deliver content and advertising experiences that are truly in the interest of the consumer more quickly and conveniently than ever.

Although mobile is the new cool kid on the block, marketers should not zoom out completely on its predecessors. They’re still one big happy digital family.

Making Trust Mobile


“Virtually every commercial transaction has within itself an element of trust,” wrote Nobel prize winner Kenneth Arrow. Arrow’s line describes why banks emphasize consistent and personalized interactions with their customers across all branches– to build trust. Back when an actual bank was central to all banking activity, personalizing customer interactions wasn’t too complex. Executives placed greeters at every bank entrance and favored tellers with the local accent who would address us by name. But as we’ve exchanged our interactions with bank employees for banking apps on our phones, banks have been challenged to adopt their familiar strategy of emphasizing human interactions to our screens.

The technology that enables personalization is consistently improving and I’ve noticed increased personalization in my banking apps. Today, my American Express app, for example, greets me with a message appropriate to my time of day. And my Chase app welcomes me with a background based on my location (as I write this post in the Chicago office, I am greeted with the Chicago skyline). In the words of Chase’s head of digital for consumer and community banking, these apps were built with the intention of “humanizing the [digital] experience” aka giving the customer a digital experience similar to the retail experience, a concept that technology has only recently been able to realize. While the app will never replicate human interaction, it has the potential to master personalized interactions on a scale that is impossible for a bank employee (who can easily forget information or get stressed on the job) to do.

As banks seek to regain our trust after the Recession (Gallup), their increasing ability to create a consistent brand experience across all mediums for their customers is great news. Not only do they signal a bank’s excitement to help us where we are – whether online or in the store – they also bring consistency to the bank’s brand experience, an important part of building brand trust and loyalty (Journal of Consumer Research). The banking industry’s ability to use mobile for building customer trust is certainly something we can expect other industries to replicate.


New Media. Same Truth.

Research shows 90% of people move between devices to accomplish a goal. As people spend more time on their mobile phones, reaching them “on-the-go” will continue to increase in importance.

Yet the small screen, like all media, provides its own set of challenges and opportunities. Some to-remain-unnamed brands, as seen in Example A focus on the challenges.

Their strategy appears to go along the lines of:

Marketing Manager One: “We have a small space. What do we do?”
Marketing Manager Two: “Boy, I don’t know. That is a small space.”
Marketing Manager One: “Could we trick someone into clicking on our link?”
Marketing Manager Two: “Interesting. But how?”
Marketing Manager One: “Let’s make it look like they have a friend request on Facebook. Even though they’re in The Weather Channel app. That could work”
Marketing Manager Two: “Who cares if they’re annoyed when they get there. They’ll be there. We’ve accomplished our task. We’ve overcome the challenge.”

It’s amazing that this kind of work is considered, much less approved. On the other hand, there are brands that focus on the opportunities, as seen in my favorite-mobile-ad-yet in Example B.

Lowe’s looked at the small space and (a) thought about what the consumer was interested in getting – the weather (b) tied themselves to the context – a nice spring day (c) didn’t get in the way – fit within the established graphic approach and (d) thought differently – staying away from the standard solution.

It’s expectedly unexpected. It’s well played all around. And it almost makes me want to garden.

Interested in more stuff I find interesting? Follow me @casey_flanagan on Twitter.


Why you shouldn’t be surprised about Facebook + Instagram

It’s probably safe to assume that by now you’ve heard the breaking news about Facebook acquiring Instagram for a whopping $1 billion in cash and stock.

A short matter of minutes after the acquisition was announced Monday morning, the interwebs were a flurry and Twitter was trending with chatter about the merger. Many were shocked, but if we reflect back on the relationship between Facebook and Instagram this acquisition should come as no surprise.

Facebook is currently the largest photo-sharing site in the world. In fact, an average of 250 million photos are shared on Facebook every day.

Facebook’s recent release of enlarged photos, milestones and cover photos in the Timeline roll out demonstrates their belief in story telling through rich media. Pair that with ongoing upgrades to their mobile application, which emphasize check-ins and location-based tagging within status updates. And voila! It’s easy to see how Facebook could benefit from a location-based photo-sharing platform. Sound familiar?

Cue Instagram.

Instagram, a social media darling formerly powered by a strong staff of six, was valued at a mere $100 million just one year ago. Earlier this year their value tripled to $300 million. And mere days ago it jumped again to a valuation of $500 million.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook chief executive, explained his jump to the $1 billion acquisition in his own Facebook post,

This is an important milestone for Facebook because it’s the first time we’ve ever acquired a product and company with so many users. We don’t plan on doing many more of these, if any at all. But providing the best photo sharing experience is one reason why so many people love Facebook and we knew it would be worth bringing these two companies together.

Believe it or not, Facebook and Instagram have been deep in discussions for quite some time now. Last August, Facebook shared plans about the addition of a photo filter application on its mobile application. There were even statements made about Facebook’s failed attempts to acquire Instagram last summer.

This time around, Facebook learned their lesson and made Instagram an offer they simply could not resist, and we couldn’t be more excited. The best of mobile photo sharing is yet to come. We’ll just have to sit tight and stay tuned. In the meantime, continue snapping candid photos of your food and friends, apply whimsical filters, and share on.

Beyond Stats: Key Takeaways from MIMA Mobile

A team from Laughlin Constable’s Milwaukee office spoke at last night’s Milwaukee Interactive Marketing Association event. The event, “Mobile in the Real World,” promised to go beyond the usual litany of mobile stats. Instead, the event focused on real-world examples of mobile strategies, executed well, and how those examples can be extended for other brands and industries.

The panel featured Mobile Mavens Brian Doherty, Deb Hernandez, Dennis Jenders and Sean Barry. They walked through the current state of mobile, what’s on the horizon, real world examples of how to successfully deploy mobile tactics and gave an overview of the key ingredients of a successful mobile approach.

So what were the key takeaways?

  1. Mobile will overtake the desktop. Key drivers: the prevalence of mobile devices and faster networks. It is projected that by 2015, mobile web will surpass desktop usage (Morgan Stanley). Mobile can no longer be thought of as an “extension.” ESPN takes this notion a step further and considers mobile their “starting point.”
  2. There is no out-of-the-box solution. The first step to evaluating your opportunities within mobile is to look at your stats, find behavioral patterns and determine what works for your brand. Best practices should be considered as guidelines, not grocery lists. Every mobile solution should be based on a combination of your business goals, the end-user, device considerations and resources (time, budget). In other words, what works in one context won’t work for everyone. There are no formulas. Examine each tactic, channel and opportunity as it comes.
  3. Relevance, context and content rule. The user controls the mobile experience. That experience is shaped by their time, their desire, their need, their direction, etc. Knowing and understanding this is crucial. Ensure that you build content, messaging and interaction around this premise.
  4. It’s about the user. Interactive design – especially mobile – is about fulfilling a want or need. The user is often looking to complete a task. So, do not present your offerings in the way you are structured as a business; present your brand in the context of your user’s needs. Don’t allow your mobile initiatives to fall short of the user’s expectation.
  5. The only constant is change. A new device, technology, app, or trend will always be on the horizon. That’s the fun part. As you keep pace with bleeding edge technology, ensure that you see the forest from the trees. Measure, evaluate, test and repeat.

What mobile hurdles are you currently facing? Let us know by commenting below. Or, drop us a line if you’re interested in learning more about LC’s mobile capabilities.

Sean and Dennis, Laughlin Constable mobile experts at MIMA event

The Social Bucket List

Applications and social startups are born at a faster rate than babies in the boomer generation by hopeful entrepreneurs anxious to be the next Mark Zuckerberg and Biz Stone. The majority of these startups never get off the ground, but a tiny fraction of them have the formidable combination of – a smart idea, unmet need, monetary support and most importantly, the agility and wherewithal to adapt and evolve – that ultimately launches them into the arms of Early Adopters.

One startup that’s caught my attention is the freshly released social start up, WhereBerry. The brainchild of Nick Baum and Bill Ferrell, former Google techies, seems like it could have a fighting chance.

Most social networks capitalize on what we’ve done in the past or what we’re doing now. The logical next step is for people to share what they want to do in the future. WhereBerry, which opened to the public last week, allows people to post activities they want to do… someday – from restaurants they want to eat at, to movies they want to see, to places they want to visit – people can organize and store their desires in one convenient place, turning the familiar “bucket list” virtual, and most importantly, social.

As a society of “dreamers” it is in our nature to make plans and set goals. As a rising society of “sharers” it is in our nature to broadcast these plans to friends. WhereBerry seems to have what it takes to capitalize on these popular behaviors. But it is at a fragile and vulnerable state in its growth, where important decisions can either make or break its success. I believe that if they can successfully accomplish the following, they could in fact be the next big thing:

  1. Community & Groups: With the rising popularity of social networks, we not only want to share, we want to be part of a community or group. What users of WhereBerry are going to want next is the ability to join together with others around entertaining, thrilling, educational and delicious activities. Providing users the ability to share plans with smaller, private groups will not only be a feature users are interested in using, but will allow the application to spread virally as friends plan together.
  2. Sharing on Steroids: The sharing is currently very straightforward: add to your list, post to your wall, see your friends’ to-dos in your feed, etc. WhereBerry should evolve the “share factor” by using a more complex formula – connecting people who have similar interests, presenting users with to-dos that seem to match with their trends (and location), suggesting plans their friends have, and more. The key is, users want the service to do the work for them and provide them with value they wouldn’t have on their own.
  3. Competition and Achievements: Based on your bucket list and the items you accomplish, users should be able to achieve recognition or status for their completed tasks (e.g. Advanced Foodie, Dare Devil, Movie Buff, etc.). This brings a level of competition to the utility and drives participation, stretching users to try more and more – and therefore use the social network more.
  4. Businesses & Brands: Selling this idea to brands by presenting the benefits to their business and getting them involved will provide substance to network by providing users with recommendations, deals and rewards, and will be the push to eventually turning this start-up into a money maker.
  5. Continuous Evolution: WhereBerry needs to pay close attention to analytics, use, feedback, and the industry as a whole to learn what users want. They need to quickly evolve, adapt, grow, simplify, and integrate in order to meet users’ rising expectations.

The tech world today is a rough one to survive in, and the get-rich-quick theory very rarely applies. In 3-5 years we may see WhereBerry checking “10 Million Users” off their bucket list. Or we may be asking, “What’s WhereBerry? A new BlackBerry device?”

Right Now Is Right Now. But The Future Is Forever.

Too often marketers write off technology because it doesn’t make sense for right now. And it’s understandable. It’s easy to not care about an upcoming album from a band that is delivered in the form of a location-aware iPhone app. But that’s just that kind of thing that could spark the innovation your brand needs to become the next big thing.

Bluebrain is a Washington D.C. band whose new album is an iPhone app that “changes its rhythms and beats as the user walks around the National Mall in Washington D.C.

Most people I’ve told about this think it is somewhere between “cool” and “cute.” But it’s the kind of thing that could spark an idea that could turn a Tourism council into a lifestyle brand. Or could reinvent newspapers into relevant resources on a hyper-local level. In short, it could be a game changer. But only if you go past what it is to what it could be. Right now? No value. Moving forward? Totally different story.

Focusing on the short-term is a necessary part of any account or brand manager’s job. But the day-to-day is designed to fill up your every day. So keep an eye on the horizon. Seth Godin has a great line:

There really isn’t much a of ‘short run’. It quickly becomes yesterday. The long run, on the other hand, sticks around for quite a while.

I’ve written before that marketers should be constantly asking what technology we’re not yet using. Let’s add another question to that list. What technology exists today that is going to be more “right” for tomorrow. Don’t ask “What is it?” Ask “What could it be?”

If you don’t, someone else will.

Interested in more stuff I find interesting? Follow me @casey_flanagan on Twitter.

Recap: 2011 Healthcare Marketing Strategies Summit

A good marketing conference sends you home feeling smarter and more energized with some new connections and plenty of new ideas. The 2011 Healthcare Marketing Strategies Summit in Orlando this past week did all that and more. This year’s presenters focused on how the significant changes occurring in healthcare are dictating an increasingly strategic role for hospital marketers.

Healthcare Marketing Strategies for 2011:

  1. Healthcare reform has been set in motion–political roadblocks or not. 25 of its 92 provisions were implemented last year. Consumer opinion is pretty evenly divided (as our Healthcare Quality Pulse showed last September) and ultimately will depend on their healthcare experience.
  2. Chances are, the physicians you’re marketing, marketing to or going to are not happy campers right now. But, according to Health Futures pundit Jeff Goldsmith, we better pay a lot of attention to the primary care physician: keeper of the patient relationship now and through whatever happens.
  3. Focusing on the customer experience is a proven marketing strategy. Keynote speaker, Bridget Duffy is an expert. But very soon hospitals are going to get reimbursed (or not) based on how patients rate their experience. And some of our research suggests pre-admission brand perceptions may play a big role in how patients score their experience.
  4. As if they don’t have enough new mandates, hospital marketers see mobile health applications as a way to differentiate, be more relevant and provide better patient care. Guess which viewpoint might lead to a successful mobile strategy?
  5. Most of us see CRM and think direct mail–OK maybe email. But with more sophisticated systems to segment market health needs up front and then track patients on a lifetime basis, CRM may soon be the basis of any fully integrated strategy.

Lots of changes for hospitals, physicians and patients–a well as insurers and employers. But, of course, with change comes opportunity. Check in over the next few weeks for some thoughts on those opportunities for healthcare marketers and let me know what you think, too.

Smart Stats For Smartphones.

“I’ll have my phone on me” carries a very different meaning these days.

We have a saying around the office: In the battle between the TV and the computer, the winner is the phone. And the implications for businesses are flying at us freight-train fast. Smartphone stats are all about “more…”

More users. Based on Nielsen numbers, an estimated 51% of the U.S. population will have a smartphone by the end of 2011.

Spending more time. eMarketer reports that consumers spend an average of 50 minutes a day on their mobile devices. And time spent with mobile is rising faster than all other media.

Enjoying more control. According to Microsoft Advertising and Compete, 46% of smartphone owners compare prices on their phone while in the store.

Recognizing more utility. 56% of respondents to a Deloitte Consulting survey who owned both a smartphone and a laptop agreed the smartphones were replacing “many of the roles” of these computers. This number is up from 41% just three months earlier.

Evaluating more touchpoints. A study from ClickZ reported that 33% of online shoppers also visit online retailer from mobile device.

From more devices. Android has been growing. BlackBerry has been faltering. And Apple has been holding steady (for the moment). According to a recent MediaPost piece, each had about 28% share as of December.

The numbers are in. Your brand can win by going mobile. So what more are you doing?

[More smart stats for smartphones can be found here.]

Interested in more stuff I find interesting? Follow me @casey_flanagan on Twitter.

Mobile Advertising vs. Mobile Branding

We hear a lot about mobile advertising. eMarketer projects mobile advertising spending to top one billion dollars by 2012. Opportunities are expected to come faster and more furiously than ever before. Many will undoubtedly provide a healthy ROI and should be taken advantage of.

But, I think, mobile offers a bigger opportunity than advertising. Great brands provide value. And mobile is a phenomenal channel for doing so. So as budgets get ratcheted up, rather than thinking about mobile advertising, let’s start with what I’ll call mobile branding. Less emphasis on pushing a message, more on delivering a value.

I know that we all know “there’s an app for that.” But those apps are getting more powerful and more valuable. Just look at what is happening in the world of healthcare.

MIT has developed a snap-on lens that allows smartphones to provide mobile eye tests (via @MarkFairbanks). iStethoscope lets you record your heartbeat and email it to your doctor. And Google has bolstered its Google Health, allowing for more visualization of your health – from cholesterol to coffee consumption (via @PSFK). Just connect to integrated mobile apps to plug in more information automatically.

Brands of all shapes and sizes are faced with an unprecedented opportunity when thinking about how to have a presence in a mobile channel. The starting point shouldn’t be mobile advertising. It should be mobile branding.