July 15, 2013

Mobile Strategies for Small Businesses

By Hisham Isa, Vice President (Marketing)

You run a small business.

You know that your consumers spend a lot of time on the phone, not just talking, but surfing the web, chatting with friends, watching videos, buying movie tickets, checking out travel sites and more. After all, you do the same thing.

You know that it makes sense for your business to engage customers online and on their phones.

You realise that if you don't have a mobile strategy, you're missing out and may actually lose customers to your competitors.

But you don't know where to start.

At BuzzCity, we realise that small businesses need to be on the web, but that they don't have the same resources to work with as big companies.

Here's what you can do . . . .

There are two things that I'd like to stress from the very beginning:

1. Your mobile strategy needs to be in line with your business goals.

2. Don't go overboard. Take a step by step approach to contain costs and be more effective.

Keeping this in mind, let's take a look at issues to think about as you develop a plan to market your business and sell products or services via mobile:

1. Mobile and your Business Plan

Start by revisiting your business goals. Then ask how mobile can help you reach them. Developing a strategy that includes mobile starts with questions that sound a lot like those asked in a business plan:
  • How big is the market?
  • Who are your target customers?
  • What are your objectives?
  • How do you measure success?
Think about what your clients want and need, so that you can use mobile to better communicate with them. Keep in mind that mobile is an enabler, not a goal in itself.  Mobile could help you create a new sales channel, build consumer loyalty or drive more people to your store.

2. Choosing the right mobile media

A website isn’t just an online brochure and a mobile site isn’t just a mini-website. Each is crafted to suit the way a customer might behave and is built to inspire specific reactions. Similarly, apps serve a different function from mobi-sites.

Mobile sites work on any internet-enabled handset and are perhaps better for reaching a mass audience. Apps, on the other hand, leverage a handset's capabilities to provide enhanced functionality and are best when a specific service is offered. 

Since applications need to be specially built for each operating system, you should identify which phones are the most widely-used in your market. Globally, Nokia is the most popular handset (42%), followed by Samsung (18%). But in some countries, like France and the UK, iPhones are market leaders. BuzzCity's Campaign Planner can provide you with market-by-market information.

3. Creating content

Think about who you want to interact with and what you want to achieve. Are you building brand awareness, promoting online commerce or driving people to your store?

Now, consider different ways to communicate your message. If your goal is to drive mobile sales, sharing product updates may be a good start with an eye on moving to mobile sales in future. You could have frequent updates in a blog or social media. Or perhaps videos, games or discount coupons are the best way to interact with your target audience. Either way, are you providing content that your consumers want? Is the information useful and actionable?

4. A Roadmap

As a small business, chances are you won’t have the resources to build your entire mobile program up front or in-house. Instead, you’ll want to see quick results to secure additional funds and future support.

We strongly recommend phasing-in your mobile strategy. Start with social media or a small mobi-site before venturing into apps, which are more expensive, time-consuming and targeted.

When you're ready to create apps, be specific. Think about what consumers want from you and how to really engage them. If you sell cupcakes, for example, consider an app that shares recipes or gives consumers a discount every time they share your social media updates. If you're a fitness trainer, your app might be a fitness calculator or calendar. And if you're a retailer, the app could be a purchase engine

While technology keeps evolving, you don't need to use the latest thing, just the most appropriate. Continually evaluate your mobile programme, check out user stats and re-visit your roadmap, perhaps on a quarterly basis.

Perhaps the most important thing to realise is that mobile is already a major media channel. If you don't use it, your business will be left behind. Learn more about creating a long-term mobile strategy in the "Mobile Insights" section of our latest BuzzCity Report (Vol. 3, Issue 3) .

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