Mobile Magic

Mobile Magic is a great book full of terrific insights – insights that fall into fundamentally two categories. The “micro” which are specifically about mobile; and the “macro” which, yes, apply to mobile, but are also more broadly relevant to all of marketing. Both are important, but let us begin by focusing on the latter first.

These are the “never-can-be-repeated-too-often” observations that every marketer should understand, but often don’t. Like this one about what we’re actually doing:

“[T]he most important thing for marketers and agencies to remember is that none of it matters unless you’re working with a real human need and a real human insight. The best ideas always start with people – their needs, their wants, their dreams.”

Or this one about the responsibilities inherent in how we do it:

“Once you’ve earned your way into your customers’ very personal space, keep the relationship honest. It’s good to be mysterious and tease out something that will ultimately surprise and delight them – it’s another thing entirely to make them feel dumb.”

Which Eslinger expands on here:

“Marketing is a relationship. And relationships aren’t a series of this-for-that exchanges. Relationships aren’t about doing what you have to do to get what you want. Relationships are about building love and respect.”

(“love and respect” – not surprising from the Lovemarks people…)

Like we said, not new ideas, but important things that every marketer should be thinking about whatever kind of marketing they are doing – and that we are glad to see Eslinger repeat here in the context of “new media”, which many feel plays by utterly different rules.

And then there are the “micro” observations – the ones that are more specific to mobile. These range from useful insights about marketing budgets:

“How much should you expect to spend on maintaining your mobile marketing efforts? A general rule of thumb is about 1.5 times as much as you spend on its creation. So for every dollar you spend on the actual mobile stuff you make, you should earmark at least 1.5 times for promotion, for search optimization, for general technical maintenance, and generally getting the work known and shown.”

To, what your mobile effort – or the lack of one – means to your customers:

“[Your customers] already are on mobile. And if you don’t join them there, you’re going to lose sight of them or lose them altogether. When your audience can’t get to you via their mobile phones, or it looks like a nightmare, you’re basically telling them that the platform they’re using is ‘lesser’ to you being connected to them. You’re saying that their mobile phone, the place where they send and receive texts and make calls and consume beloved content, isn’t important enough for your conversation to continue in the place of their choosing.”

And as useful as these are, we would like to single out two particular observations that Eslinger makes that we think fundamentally change the way one thinks about mobile, and therefore the way one develops advertising for it.

The first has to do with the fact that mobile is the only medium in which the sense of touch is used so distinctly, and potentially so brilliantly. You can’t touch a tv or radio spot, or a billboard or a desktop website. Newspapers and magazines you can touch, of course, but neither of those can offer the kind of tactile experience that mobile can. You don’t stroke a magazine’s surface to access information. You don’t poke it to activate apps. You can’t enlarge images by “pinching” it. It does not vibrate and buzz to notify you of new news. Compared to mobile, the tactile experience of print – which remember, is the only one of the traditional media that has any tactile element at all – is mediocre at best.

And this is important because it is only when creatives begin to identify and emphasize a medium’s characteristic difference can that medium begin to dominate advertising. Radio took off when agencies figured out how to make spots that weren’t just “talking print ads”. Television exploded when marketers started making commercials that weren’t just “visual radio spots”. And more recently, web traffic accelerated when brands stopped making sites that were just “brochureware”, and started using the unique capabilities of the internet to create the kinds of relationships with humans that have made all other media take a backseat ever since.

But that insight about touch – as important as it is – pales when compared to Eslinger’s other observation, which is this: it’s not that the medium is mobile; it’s that consumers are – and that this particular medium is able to go along for the ride. Which then prompts Eslinger to ask the important question “What do your consumers need from you when they’re out and about?”

This simple observation should fundamentally change the way you think about mobile – and, by extension, other media as well.

Because it reveals that any mobile marketing that is simply acting as the “on your phone” extension of other media creative (TV, print, radio, OOH, desktop), is wrong. Those are interruptive. Ads that stand next to the thing we are interested in, interrupting the thing we’re interested in, in the hopes that we’ll be interested in it too.

Mobile offers us the opportunity to not do that. To not interrupt, but to aid and abet. To not try to distract you from what you’re doing in order to sell you something; to instead help you with what you’re doing. Hell, it is literally resident in the device that people use to navigate their lives. Who ever described a tv, a radio or a billboard that way?

This is, to put it mildly, not how marketers look at mobile. Instead, they see it as the smaller (and therefore less useful) cousin to the boring desktop advertising they are foisting on the public.

Now you know what it really is. So now you don’t have that excuse. So go make something amazing with that knowledge, and beat your competition.

Mobile Magic: The Saatchi & Saatchi Guide to Mobile Marketing by Tom Eslinger was published by Wiley on 2/17/2014 – order it from Amazon here or pick it up at your local bookseller (find one here).

Please be advised that The Agency Review is an Amazon Associate and as such earns a commission from qualifying purchases

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