Mobile marketing is being heavily promoted as the next big thing and it probably is. But it appears that so far, its being implemented by only a few fortune 500 players though the number of mobile marketing companies vying for those marketing dollars is exploding. And let's face it, the way mobile is being utilized appears to be limited and largely uncreative. Media companies and very large organizations such Fox Sports, NBC and the NBA have implemented mobile campaigns which have provided limited utility for participants.
The Obama campaign was able to use mobile to enlist grass-roots support during the past election and provide information exchange between the organization and even casual followers. Several people have marveled at the speed at which information was disseminated to Obama supporters, ie; the Hillary nomination.
A lot of focus in mobile circles has been on the "sexy" capabilities of newer smart phones such as the iPhone, Blackberry and Google's new offering. However, let's keep these in perspective. The iPhone has so far captured about 1% of the market. While this is in fact impressive given its recent introduction, it could be another 5 - 7 years before Apple has captured enough of the market for it to make sense to directly seek business from that segment of cell-phone owners via some device-targetted mobile campaign.
Until then, the cold reality is that the vast majority of cell-phone owners are holding a device which is only capable of making calls, sending and receiving SMS messages. That's it. So, focusing efforts exclusively on fancy mobile websites or MMS delivery just doesn't make good financial sense for either the business wanting to engage these prospects or the company wanting to provide content.
Right now, SMS is king. We can deduce from the Obama campaign's successful use of mobile marketing that people do in fact view information delivered via SMS as useful and worthwhile. Not only was timely information delivered, but everyone who signed up and received campaign updates had the Obama brand in their hand. Because it was simple SMS delivery of information, users could forward this to anyone without special software. No cell phone user was excluded by way of technological limitations. The information went viral and was delivered to those who didn't even request it through publicized channels.
In the case of the Obama campaign, the value proposition of mobile marketing for the consumer was information. In exchange, the Obama campaign put their brand in millions of hands. The campaign didn't spend its efforts on anything other than information delivery but gained a huge advantage over their competitors during the primary and national election cycles.
So can the small business owner mimick this? Absolutely. The "secret", if there is one, is to offer something of value that can be delivered via SMS. For instance, a job opportunity, specific real-estate listing info, a coupon, etc etc. What value can you offer in exchange for putting your brand in a prospects hand? That is the question you should be asking yourself if you're considering mobile marketing for your business or non-profit.