The Real Mobile Opportunity

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I was on a podcast panel a few weeks ago and we got to debate whether coupons were the killer app for mobile marketing. I said I didn’t think so, though the idea is certainly valid and lucrative The real mobile opportunity, however, makes coupons look like a Foursquare check-in.

The big ideas for mobile will be outsourced branding — the end of our efforts to get consumers to think things about our products and services — and just-in-time decision-making. Let me riff a little bit on both.

Social media are tools for vetting brand promises via peer-to-peer interaction. It’s reality check to the fantasies we marketers have invented over the years, and it is already changed the role of CMOs from that of promoters of brand image, to enablers of brand knowledge. The truths of our brands are rapidly being outsourced to the experiences and opinions of our markets, which are shared in the communities, chat rooms, listservs, and web sites connected through the Internet.

Consumers are already entirely mobile in these virtual worlds, traveling to ‘places’ to give or get information. Most of this travel is done on computers, though it’s already shifting to tablets and, in some ways, smartphones. I open a new tab my browser to check a rating on something before clicking on it.

Imagine what happens when smartphones are as fast and/or the user interface is easy and transparent (i.e. something like Google glasses). Then, when consumers are at a store or restaurant, they’ll not longer need to rely on their own internal views of brands but rather tee-up their social web(s) and find the best, cheapest, or most-attractive purchase to meet their own unique expectations. Once the web is everywhere it will bring the real-time expressions of brand experiences with it.

Mobile will allow consumers to put off making decisions until they’re far closer to the actual points of purchase, just like we do now when we’re shopping online via our desktops. Decision-making will become just-in-time.

It’ll change the CMO role further. It’ll change customer relationships even more. And I don’t think it’ll have much if anything to do with coupons.

Image via flickr

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