I’ve been struck by how mobile everything is becoming. Recently, Adenyo CEO Kevin McGuire spoke in Ottawa, highlighting some of the reasons marketers should pay attention to mobile device users. Here are a few:

  • Thanks to iPads & smartphones using 3G networks, people are getting accustomed to using the internet wherever they are. They just assume access is pervasive; they don’t even stop to ask whether they’re somewhere that has wi-fi.
  • The use of a browser and the proliferation of apps has enabled people to do their work on their mobile devices, not just check emails while they are away from their computer. Many are now using their device as they used to use their computer – they’re doing most of their work on it. Though I wrote this blog post on a laptop, I could just as well have written it on a Netbook or an iPad. In the same way, people could be filling out a form on your website from a coffee shop or the golf course.
  • Mobile devices can receive much more than text information; they can handle all kinds of media. Many mobile devices have built-in recorder, GPS, speakers and a touchscreen. With a Slingbox or DivX player, you can watch movies, TV shows and youtube videos on whichever device you want. Are marketers taking advantage of this?

This is not an article about the trend towards mobile technology. This article focuses on the shift that marketers need to make to stay relevant as everything goes mobile. So how are marketers, particularly those in high tech, supposed to use this mew medium? How can B2B marketers make the migration to mobile and continue to tell effective stories?

Consider that your audience is sitting somewhere other than at their desk when they visit your site or see your marketing collateral. They may be accessing your message while walking to their next meeting or standing at the sidelines of their kid’s soccer game. In those situations, they have very little time to appreciate your beautiful writing and attractive layout. They’re looking for information that can help them and you’re expected to get them there as quickly as possible. Wherever they may be, they expect that they can get a prompt response via the web. So if your contact form asks for their daytime business phone and extension, it won’t instill confidence or convince them that you’re in the mobile age.

Try to create messages that people can take in on their PC and their mobile device. As you do this, make sure you optimize for multiple form-factors. Ensure that screen designs work in both portrait and landscape format and be aware of the Adobe Flash constraint on iPhone.

Since mobile devices were built for two-way communications, people expect that they should be able to do something more than merely look at your marketing message. Thanks to touchscreens, people are getting tactile with your content. The more their fingers tap, pinch or otherwise handle your content, the more they will remember your brand’s message. How can you get them to interact? With so much information around today, messages that use multimedia stand out; they hold the best chance of engaging audiences. When iPad users read a New York Times article, instead of still images, the story is now accompanied by an embedded video clip. Youtube has up to 1 billion video views/day and is the third most-used site on the Internet because people prefer video over text.

mobility_is_here_flickr_bishib70_texting_the_missusEvaluate your marketing materials and think of ways to make your calls-to-action interactive. Encourage people to post comments on your site; using contests or voting-style initiatives as the vehicle. Some companies post audio comments that users have left as messages on a designated 800-number or a video clip that users have uploaded. If your product can be regionalized or can cater to people in one area, look at using location-based and demographic-based ads. Mobile devices come with these capabilities built in; it’s much more specific than the targeting used by traditional media.

If you make technology, think of how you can app-ify your offering. Almost all new software is being written with mobile use in mind. Vendors are looking to turn their web-based offerings into apps with the same intensity that they used to port their client-server software over to the web a few years back.

The social media generation today thinks of content you created as theirs to share. In fact, mobile access to information makes their value-add absorbing and forwarding content like yours to their network.

Help build value in your brand by letting mobile users make the brand their own. Ensure that they can at least share your information via a social media badge, using services like addthis.com. See if you can be part of the action on their social network of choice by creating mashups or voting for your initiative. This will double as free market research for you by telling you which social media sites are most popular with your market.

In summary, design your communications to work with mobile technology, make it interactive and make it easy for prospects to share your story; these are the ways that you can take advantage of the new mobile environment. These may seem daunting, but they don’t require large investments and you can start using them on trial-basis right now. Remember that it’s marketing’s job to push the boundaries of what new media makes possible, because winning the prospect’s attention is becoming a prerequisite to winning their business.

image credit: Gracie Films’ Say Anything