Mobile Commerce: How brands can own the conversation

  • January 17, 2017
  • Caitlin New

As Facebook’s Katherine Shappley said at the National Retail Federation (NRF) convention this week, “mobile is not just a machine or device; mobile is a consumer behavior.” I couldn’t agree more. Think about what we do with mobile. We document and share so much of our lives, we pay bills and for groceries, we check prices and cross reference items while in store, we rely on mobile to wake us up in the morning, track our steps, and tell us personal things about our health. Thanks to this powerful connection, the mobile ecosystem has created a $1 trillion global industry for mobile service providers. This equates to 2.6 billion smart phone users who visit more than a third of the total website visits on mobile. With mobile commerce one of the hottest commodities on the market, there are dozens of mobile start-ups looking to capture this opportunity and many tech or retail giants waiting in the wings to capitalize on their momentum.

In a market where Samsung and Apple are vying for mobile payments adoption, and Best Buy and Amazon are battling for dominance in the omnichannel war how do young companies make any noise? Well the good news is that mobile’s media market is like the universe—ever expanding and hungry for more energy. From media and analysts to retailers, people are captivated by the ways in which mobile can drive more traffic to stores, revenue for services, users to mobile apps, and eyes to brands. And consumers are hungry for convenience and instant access to goods, services, and knowledge.

The opportunity is there, but the answer to gaining visibility in a crowded market is more than a series of media relations campaigns and marketing plans. It’s about positioning your company in a way that allows your reputation to outshine and outlive the supernovas that burn up too quickly.

Raise your hand, and repeat after me
“I will not go to market in a hot air balloon.” In other words, do not launch your company or product on an idea that is made up of more hot air than actual product. Yes, the industry is hungry for the mobile story, but it can see right through the BS. Make sure that your business model has a foundation and a solid set of support beams before shining the spotlight on your company. Yes, many enterprise customers are hesitant or unwilling to go public with information about how they’re using your product. You can get over this hurdle with solid product demos, a roadmap of current and future capabilities, investors or stakeholders who stand behind your work, and a really cool—substantiated—use story.

Sit at the table next to the cool kids
Proximity is everything. The National Retail Federation (NRF) Convention has been in full swing these last few days and mobile has dominated the conversation for the last few years. The changes in the industry have looked something like this: mobile marketing gave way to mobile commerce, which then morphed into the mobile customer experience, which is in the process of bowing to the new queen of mobile — analytics. If you want to stake your claim in the mobile game, plan to be at NRF next year, and do your homework in advance. Find out where the movers and shakers are spending time and exhibitor money and position yourself there immediately. Main floor booth sales start to book up by the last day of the show and if you don’t sign this week, then you’d better start planning for a good spot in 2019 instead.

Do unto others…
Think about how the information you’re sharing about your company and area of expertise could help the industry, and aim to be a resource that adds value instead of fluff. Align your company communications objectives with a ‘helpful brand’ initiative. There’s a lot of useless content about mobile out in the world, so don’t add to it. Don’t create content for the sake of content, do it for the sake of knowledge. Have you had any revelations about the mobile user experience? Share it. Does your mobile product or service collect a wealth of analytics? Put them in context and create content that shares industry learnings backed by the data of your platform. This will get you further than many self-serving forms of content, because it’s helpful to your prospects.

When you’re good to momma
Retailers may be your customers, but the media are your clients. Media aren’t compelled to cover your story, and I promise you they won’t be as enamored with your company as you are. If you approach members of the press as clients, thinking about their unique needs and the experience they have with your company, you’ll develop those priceless relationships. Mobile marketing and commerce companies should befriend the wonderful people at Retail TouchPoints—they’ll hear you out, but give them a good customer use story that benefits their readers to make it worth their while. Mobile payments companies should chat up the fine folks at PaymentsSource—they’re looking for data that shows the mobile payments needle is moving forward. Recode can be a tough nut to crack, but give them an educated opinion on a big picture, newsworthy trend for mobile commerce that’s backed by facts you can support and you might just see some coverage. The moral of this story is, find out what would make your target media happy and do everything you can to deliver.

Keep these points in mind as you’re developing your communications strategy, and be patient. Growing your program should be based on this foundation of transparency, helpfulness, message customization, and networking. When you’ve mastered these building blocks, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a trusted mobile industry resource and maybe even an industry behemoth.

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