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Article first published as ‘Why Mobile Should Be the Cornerstone of Your Local Area Marketing’ on Technorati.

Do you have a mobile phone? Of course you do, there are 4.6 billion people across the planet with one. But did you know that only 4.2 billion people own a toothbrush? The difference says something about where we’re at and where you should be going with your local marketing strategy.

Big business is not ignoring mobile marketing but one could certainly make a case that small business is. This is a mistake.


Think about it, when you’re in the shopping centre, when you’re having a coffee on the mainstreet, small business can not rely on print advertising, radio or television advertising. Exposure to these advertising vehicles happened before you left home and in an attention economy, that is a long time.

The mobile is beside us just about all the time and this includes when we’re out having a coffee and importantly when we’re shopping. We’re using mobile phones to play games, read news and check emails just to pass time. We’re addicted.  So how should a small business be using mobile for local area marketing? Here’s a summary of a few opportunities and how they might fit in with your marketing strategy.
 

SMS

Stats coming out of the 2011 Mobile Marketing Association Forum noted that 96% of all SMS messages are read and of these 90% are read within 3 minutes. What a powerful medium, considering email open rates are significantly lower.

As a small business, you should be collecting customer’s phone numbers to send special offers and invitations to special events. Use SMS to remind customers of their appointments and let them know when a product delivery has come in.

The only thing we should all remember is, our phones are personal so at no stage should you send unsolicited messages.
 

QR Codes

QR Codes have been threatening to change the way we seek information for a couple of years, however the adoption is much slower than expected. However, for the effort required it can be a great way for business to distribute information.

Use a QR Code in print advertising, which can send a user to your website, social media profile or alternatively process a purchase. Have QR Codes instore allowing people to find reviews of the product. If you’re in a retail store that gets foot-traffic, have a couple in your front window, so that the traditional window shopper can still make a transaction.

UPDATE: OK so we hate QR Codes now don’t we? Let me explain in ‘Has Augmented Reality Killed the QR Code?‘. The thing is they were once innovative, they were once the next big thing, but they never got here. Now with Augmented Reality they just seem irrelevant.
 

Mobile Advertising

With all the flexibility of Google Adwords, advertising on a mobile advertising platform is a really affordable option. The chances are the advertising will get to someone when they’re, well mobile, and this will have greater effect.

Mobile advertising can be part of an overall strategy looking to drive people to your website, attract more Facebook ‘likes’ or alternatively you may just be looking to advertise a promotion. Either way, use the platform and target by age, location, mobile phone handset and operating system
 

Social Media

If you’re going to use social media as part of your overall marketing strategy then it is going to be integral that this includes mobile. Potential shoppers will predominantly be using social media on their mobile phone.

So utilize Facebook and Foursquare check-ins to reward customers and encourage more conversation around your business. Ask for Twitter followers to tweet pics with an incentive.
 

Mobile Website

Shopping Centres and mainstreet shopping strips should all be producing a mobile website. Take the people who are having a meal at a café and then decide they need to shop for a CD, book or shirt. They bring out their mobile and see if they can find the retailer they’re after.

A mobile website will give the shopper the information they want in a timely manner providing a smooth experience. A website not optimised for mobile is going to be painful, they may not find the information they want, and it is going to be a negative experience.

UPDATE: Let’s just make this clear. For most small businesses you will want a responsive website. This will save you from building separate sites for desktop and mobile, which is a bit of a nightmare considering the multitude of devices we’re using and hey Google recommends responsive.
 

Reviews Made Mobile

We all love checking reviews of products, services, cafes and restaurants. The mobile phone is now bringing this ability to us when and where we want it. It also means that customers can share their experiences with Google Places, Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and more.

So make sure that every shopper’s experience is a positive one because you don’t know who has 500 Facebook friends and posts to Google Places. On the other hand, do what you can to encourage shoppers to leave positive reviews, for the next time someone is seeking a good coffee they might come across a review of your business.

Mobile phones and in particular the smartphones can and should play a huge role in the local area marketing of small business. Most of the options available are really affordable and much more effective than traditional advertising mediums.

Don’t wait for everyone else, within 12 months we could be talking about so much more than I have here.

 

     
Quentin Aisbett is the strategist at OnQ Marketing. He loves social media, SEO, CRO and mobile. Blogging all the time, tweeting even more so and found rambling on Google Plus at+Quentin Aisbett. Be a little old school and email him.

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