For Businesses, Mobile is the Platform that 'Makes Sense'
As part of the SES Chicago Conference and Expo this week, the Chamber hosted an expert panel discussion this afternoon focusing on the impact of mobile technology in the business world.
In an informal poll, the majority of the audience raised their hand when the moderator asked if mobile makes their lives more convenient. When asked if mobile can act as a detriment on their lives, the same amount of people raised their hand.
One thing that everyone could agree on, however, was this: mobile is changing the future of business, and businesses will have to enter the mobile space to stay relevant.
The panel, moderated by Linda Dao of the Chicagoland Chamber, featured panelists that were all experts in some aspect of the mobile industry, ranging from app design to mobile websites to social media. They passionately discussed how individuals and all types of businesses should utilize mobile apps, social media, SMS marketing, and more.
Because of the constantly growing amount of smartphone users, Reid Lappin pointed out that businesses are increasingly turning to mobile apps to present value and connect with more of their users.
“Apps are meant to provide value in some shape or form,” said Lappin, Founder of VOKAL Interactive. “This is instant real-time sharing in the mobile space with the potential to hit millions if your content goes viral.”
Not only are businesses able to reach more users and more customers through mobile apps, they are able to reach a higher level of engagement with those customers.
“The opportunity for mobile is to enhance the brand experience,” said Barbara Maldonado, Social Media & Mobile Strategist for Legacy Marketing Partners. “This tendency for us to share gives us the opportunity to listen and respond. This is a plus in the experience for the user as well.”
The panelists agreed that businesses looking to integrate mobile into their marketing strategy should research their audience and identify what they are trying to accomplish before doing so.
“The approach mobile apps should take is to provide value or entertainment,” said Joshua Hernandez, CEO of Tap Me! Games. “It should definitely center around utility, not just making an app to make an app or because your competitor has one.”
Ted Novak, a Partner for Clique Studios, emphasized that selling mobile to new clients shouldn’t be difficult because anyone with a smart phone is already a mobile consumer. Businesses just need to know how to cater to their customers.
“When you take mobile to a local focus in terms of marketing, the phone almost speaks to ‘local’ more than a website does,” Novak said.
A couple of panelists pointed out that small businesses don’t need the $100,000 iPhone app that a large corporation uses to be successful. Each small business is different, and mobile can allow them to get the most bang for their budget.
“For local businesses, it’s the platform that makes the most sense,” Hernandez said. “You’re walking by these companies, you’re out in the community, so it’s really important to consider the platform.”
Other panelists echoed this sentiment.
“Small business is the most underserved market on the face of the planet,” said Sean Everett, Founder of Evolyte. “It’s also the biggest market, so we have to find some way to tap that market successfully.”
As far as integrating social media into a mobile strategy, the panelists had varying opinions as to which social media platform is the most important. The consensus, however, was that social media cannot be ignored. Like mobile itself, businesses just need to identify the best way to use it.
Another aspect of mobile that can go overlooked yet is very important is the collection of data. To develop content for a specific audience, you need to know who your audience is.
“Data is important: using data for a greater good, creating content directed specifically for those users,” said Lappin. “We’re striving to know more about the users, what their behaviors are, and where those behaviors are taking place.”
When asked for a last bit of advice to close the panel, Lappin summed it up well.
“The mobile space is going to be here for quite some time,” he said. “Don’t rush in. Stand back, make things simple, focus on trends in the markets, and develop a strategy for three to five years or even five to ten.”