4 Tips to Get in the Mobile Mindset

We’ve talked about SMS, mobile websites and mobile email. But, as you may know, those are just tools to get your job of marketing your business done. Yes, building these into your strategy are the core foundations of mobile success, but mobile is more than technology … Mobile is about your customer. Now, I’m not here to shout out stats, because I’ve provided those before. And, frankly, you’re here … so you know adding mobile to your business is critical. Your customers are mobile … therefore, your business needs to be.

We’ve talked about SMS, mobile websites and mobile email. But, as you may know, those are just tools to get your job of marketing your business done.

Yes, building these into your strategy are the core foundations of mobile success, but mobile is more than technology …

Mobile is about your customer.

Now, I’m not here to shout out stats, because I’ve provided those before. And, frankly, you’re here … so you know adding mobile to your business is critical.

Your customers are mobile … therefore, your business needs to be.

Now, before you go and plan your strategy and determine the appropriate tactics to reach your goals, you need to put yourself in the mobile mindset.

I recently attended Mobile Marketer‘s Mobile FirstLook event in New York in which many brands, such as Coca-Cola, Sephora, MillerCoors, Nissan and JetBlue discussed their strategies.

I noticed that all of these individuals work within their entire organization to help them think differently about the mobile opportunity.

Making sure you have the mobile mindset and your organization is on board and you’re more likely to succeed.

Here are four tips I learned from the top brands on getting in the mobile mindset:

1. Think about your mobile opportunity across your organization.

Mobile isn’t just about marketing. Can mobile enable your sales team to sell more effectively? Can mobile optimize tasks to save time? Can mobile save you money by cutting down on transaction fees?

Before you think SMS, QR Codes or apps, think “How can mobile add value to all of the other parts of my organization?”

2. Stop making it complicated.

Believe me, I know it’s super complex and overwhelming to keep up with the latest and greatest technologies.

Coca-Cola focuses on six aspects of its mobile programs. Those are the six that work for THEIR business. They may not be the same for your business, but you can’t worry about ALL the possibilities of mobile. Focus on the handful of things that will most impact your business.

3. Work with the right partners. Ones you can trust.

Luckily, we don’t have to do all of this alone. In fact, if you try you’re more likely to get frustrated and give up. Aligning yourself with the right strategic partners and technology partners is important.

Again, every business is different, so you need to make sure that the workflow and process of your partners matches the style of your business. You most likely want to enjoy working with them, too. Make sure personalities mesh well.

Finally, I don’t care how big your company is. Mobile is no longer a “nice to have.” No matter the size of your business, you can find someone who knows more than you do and who is able to offer services.

4. Stop waiting.

This was probably the most powerful statement of all. So simple, but it needed to be said.

With technology advancing so fast, some businesses find themselves waiting for the next great thing in order to start. Guess what? When you do that … you never start.

Listen, nobody is going to do it for you … it’s on you to dive in and get the process started.

If you’re dilly-dallying and finding excuses to wait just a little bit longer … quit complaining and start taking action.

Yes, you’re going to make mistakes, and that’s fine. But what you learn from those mistakes will be an important part of your growth.

Starting now is the only way you’re going to learn what works for YOUR business.

Why SMS Will Be Your Mobile Workhorse and 5 Ideas to Get You Started

We’ve talked about the importance of a mobile-friendly Web presence and mobile-optimized email for your small business. But there is one mobile tool that your small business should be leveraging that will be a key puzzle piece to the success of your mobile strategy. Some might argue that SMS is the most effective mobile channel that exists, when it comes to ROI.

We’ve talked about the importance of a mobile-friendly Web presence and mobile-optimized email for your small business. But there is one mobile tool that your small business should be leveraging that will be a key puzzle piece to the success of your mobile strategy.

Some might argue that SMS is the most effective mobile channel that exists, when it comes to ROI.

There is a reason it continues to be the workhorse within the mobile strategies of brands like Coca-Cola, Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret, Target, jcpenney and many more.

5 reasons SMS will be the workhorse in your mobile strategy.

Instant Deliverability: SMS messages offer one of the most immediate marketing channels for businesses. More than 97 percent of messages are read within four minutes of receipt. So if you have a message that is time sensitive, there is no better way to connect with your customer.

Everyone’s Reachable: Nearly 100 percent of the handsets on the market can send and receive text messages. I don’t care that we’ve surpassed 50 percent smartphone penetration in the USA. I don’t care that that will continue to grow. You’re missing out on 40 percent to 50 percent of your audience right now by catering to smartphone-only customers.

Just because my 65-year-old dad has an iPhone now doesn’t mean he will use it the way I do. But you know what … he sure sends a whole lot more text messages to me.

Highest-Possible Visibility: Remember how I said that 97 percent of SMS messages are read within four minutes? Well, that means that 97 percent of your SMS messages are being read—period. When was the last time your email open rate was over 90 percent? I’ll let you figure that one out on your own.

Now I’m not saying “Stop using email.” Email is super powerful and has its place. But SMS offers you a new, quick, high-converting way to connect with your customers that no channel can match.

Highly Targeted: Because buying lists is a no-no when it comes to SMS, you have to build your database of loyal customers. Being a permission-based marketing vehicle, your customers have to opt in to receiving these messages from you.

Yes, that means they essentially raised their hands and said, “I’d like you to connect with me on my most personal device.” The next best thing in my mind is if your customer invites you over for dinner. Mmmmm …

Cost Effective, Considering the Return: For all you marketing folk, this means Return on Investment (ROI).

SMS is way more affordable than you think. Many of you still spend a good part of your budget on direct mail. Again, it has its place in your marketing mix. But look at some of the costs associated with direct mail: You have postage, shipping, mailing lists, printing, packaging/fulfillment etc.

Direct mail depends on your volume. But, at the end of the day, you could be spending 20 cents to more than a dollar per piece. SMS could cost you pennies per message.

As a small business, a Yellow Pages ad could cost you up to $4,000 per year. Yes, people (especially older demographics) do still reach for their Yellow Pages when they need a business in a hurry, but it offers little to no engagement or tracking.

Depending on the size of your small businesses, incorporating SMS into your monthly budget could run you $25 to a few hundred bucks a month. The level of return will far outweigh your older, traditional media vehicles.

OK, so you’re sold on adding mobile to your marketing mix. Congratulations, it was a wise decision, trust me.

Here are 5 ideas for you to get started with SMS this year.

Mobilize Your Loyalty Program: Begin building your list of mobile numbers and send timely, relevant messaging to your customers. This can include special mobile-only offers, promotion opportunities, sales, new product or service offerings.

The more you can personalize these messages, the better. Many of you may already have some sort of loyalty program in place. I’m not asking you to do something totally new. Just add SMS as a component of the loyalty program to bring loyal customers back with relevant, high-value messaging.

Mobilize Your Coupons: Target, jcpenney and Bed Bath & Beyond are great examples of this. Each and every week, these businesses send mobile coupons to their mobile databases. It’s fast, cost effective and convenient for the customers who prefer to receive these offers to their phones. They just bring their phones to the store and redeem their mobile coupons at the point of purchase.

Eliminate No-Shows: Does your businesses depend on filling appointment slots? Doctors, Lawyers, Salons, etc. rely on filling appointments, but what happens when your customer misses an appointment?

Let me guess, you don’t charge for no-shows? Some estimates state that missed appointments for a single physician can be as much as $150,000 in lost revenue and additional labor costs. Multi-physician offices are even more drastic, estimating no-shows in a single year resulting in losses of over $1 million.

So how can SMS eliminate no-shows?

Why not send an appointment reminder via SMS within an hour or two prior to the appointment? Include a number for those who have to cancel. Better yet, let them reply to the message so that it updates your appointment software.

Oh no, someone canceled! Send out a message to your database to fill that last-minute appointment.

If you’re a salon, restaurant or massage therapist, you can send a message to your customer SMS list offering a savings opportunity to the one that fills that appointment slot.

Add SMS and stop losing money due to no-shows.

Engage Customers With Giveaways: Sweepstakes and giveaways have been great ways to build your SMS list in the early stages.

Offer up one big prize and let your customers text in to enter. Give away a monthly prize and give customers a reason to stay on your list.

Not only do sweepstakes entice customers to opt-in, but everyone loves winning prizes. Is giving away one or two free services a month worth generating hundreds of new opt-ins to communicate with moving forward?

Learn About Your Customers With Polls and Surveys: Did one of your loyal customers just purchase from you? A quick SMS message could let them provide valuable feedback on their experience.

SMS is a two-way interactive tool that lets customers provide feedback just by replying to your messages.

Are you thinking about releasing a new product or service? Are you a restaurant and looking to add a new menu item? Poll your audience to get their feedback to help make smarter decisions.

Bonus point: Tie a sweepstakes to your survey and award a lucky customer with a prize of some sort to encourage participation.

Now it’s on you.

These are just a few ways you could quickly begin to incorporate SMS marketing into your business. It’s important to remember that SMS without a strategy or goal will lead to poor results.

Make sure you understand why you’re adding SMS and determine measurements for success to continually optimize your efforts.

The trick is to not re-invent the wheel. You should look to mobilize initiatives you already have in place.

You don’t need to create a separate marketing initiative. You’re already doing what you need to do. Now mobilize it.

4 Methods of Maximizing and Monetizing Mobile Marketing Efforts

A recent study by Google showed nearly 75 percent of consumers surveyed said they want to see mobile-friendly sites. And if you’re site isn’t one of them, you may be losing leads and sales. The fact that we’re a nation that is on-the-go and pretty much living on our smartphones or tablets means that your website should be adapted to these mediums to help monetize your business. It also means that thinking about mobile marketing and how to incorporate various forms of that into your marketing strategy should be high on your list for 2013.

A recent study by Google showed nearly 75 percent of consumers surveyed said they want to see mobile-friendly sites. And if you’re site isn’t one of them, you may be losing leads and sales.

The fact that we’re a nation that is on-the-go and pretty much living on our smartphones or tablets means that your website should be adapted to these mediums to help monetize your business.

It also means that thinking about mobile marketing and how to incorporate various forms of that into your marketing strategy should be high on your list for 2013.

Mobile-Friendly Must-Haves

There are certain “must-haves” that consumers noted they are looking for in a mobile-friendly website. Such features include:

1. Being fast. This means having a site that loads in around five seconds or less.

2. Being user-friendly. Having large buttons, easy search capabilities, limited scrolling or pinching are key, based on consumer feedback. Something to consider is having responsive templates that adjust accordingly based on the user’s device, albeit template, desktop or mobile phone. It’s also important to have quick access to company information, such as easy-to-find business directions, contact numbers, product and purchasing information. Even better, consider adding a “click to call” access button to contact a customer service rep to take an order via the phone, as well as an option for users to visit a non-mobile site.

3. Being social. To continue bonding and viral marketing, don’t forget links to your business’ social media profile page.

If you’re a smaller business that may not have the staff or resources to include these features into your website, there are some free and trial mobile conversion websites worth checking out. These include: http://www.ginwiz.com, http://www.dudamobile.com/ and http://www.mobilizetoday.com.

The App Attack

If you’re pondering if your business “app worthy” or how you can leverage apps for additional sales or leads, here’s some food for thought …

Paid apps could be a great way to add ancillary revenues to your business and free apps could be used for collecting important data (leads), which can be used for cross-selling. Some businesses even obtain revenues through ads that are built in the app from sponsorship partners.

Whichever business model you choose, you still have to decide what your app will feature. Typically, content is king. For instance if you’re a financial publisher, you may consider having an app that has stocks alerts and ideas, technical analysis, commentary and actionable data that your end-user (investors) would find beneficial. Know your audience and decide what kind of content is “app worthy.”

Then, of course, you need to market and distribute your app for increased visibility. You can promote your app though affiliate and joint venture emails, press releases, content marketing, online classifieds, and guerilla marketing in related forums and message boards. You can also include your app in various marketplaces including: Play/Apps Store (Droid and iPhone), BlackBerry Appworld, Apple Apps Store/iTunes, and Amazon Appstore for Android.

Of course, fees and commissions vary, but some are more cost-effective than you think. Here’s a great article with more information: “App Store Fees, Percentages and Payouts: What Developers Need to Know.” I also found a free service worth checking out called Freeappalert.com as an alternate distribution channel for your app.

QR Codes

You’ve seen ’em, those little square bar codes on just about everything these days. But not everyone is using them properly and not every business needs them. QR Codes, used the right way, can be a great way to take offline marketing leads online. For instance, consider putting these little guys on your business cards, collateral material, fulfillment kits, promotional fliers, press kits, brochures and other printed materials. Why? It’s a way for a consumer to “scan” the barcode and be redirected to your sign up/”squeeze page” or promotional webpage to provide further information and, more importantly, collect valuable data on them so you can follow up accordingly.

SMS Texting

Recent studies show that 97 percent of text messages are read within minutes of receiving them. SMS text message marketing allows you to communicate directly to your target market by sending a simple, quick text message. This permission-based program is perfect because your recipients have opted in to receive your messages. If you choose SMS texting for either bonding (editorial) or marketing (promotions), in addition to your standard anti-spam and privacy policy verbiage, make sure on your sign up form it’s clearly stated that subscribers who elect to be contacted this way will receive important messages and special offers from the publisher and select third-party partners, as well as may be subject to text messaging fees from the phone carrier. This article shows a good example of a text message disclaimer: “What Details to Include in a Mobile Marketing Call to Action.”

In my experience, this medium has been most effective with premium-type services where members rely on critical real-time alerts from the publisher that are pure editorial. The marketing aspect is ancillary.

So if you’re looking to be a leader in your industry and not a laggard, it pays to conduct some “due diligence” on your website and think about which mobile marketing strategies may be right for your biz and audience. With our social and communications landscape always changing, staying abreast of the latest tools, trends and is imperative for businesses to survive and thrive.

The Direct Marketing, iPad and Video Holiday Shopping Link

Consumers are shopping this holiday season with their iPads more than those with Android devices. And now, online video is being credited with closing more sales and getting higher conversions from mobile shoppers. Today we link the reasons why consumers are choosing to shop on iPads, how video influences consumer behavior, and reasons why direct marketers

Consumers are shopping this holiday season with their iPads more than those with Android tablets. And now, online video is being credited with closing more sales and getting higher conversions from mobile shoppers. Today we link the reasons why consumers are choosing to shop on iPads, how video influences consumer behavior, and reasons why direct marketers need to hop on this bandwagon now.

So why do we think consumers are using iPads over Android tablets?

First, not all mobile is created visually equal and with the same ease of use. And second, not all media are created equal. We explain why in today’s video.

Next, we recommend three action items you can take now:

  1. Conduct a competitive analysis of what your competition is doing with online video. If they’re already there, it’s costing you business.
  2. You have an opportunity to be your category leader by repositioning your marketing strategy to include online video. (We also share with you the increase in email open rates you can get by putting the word “video” in your subject line).
  3. A/B test your current approach, or control, with video. Even better: test video formats, length, offers, and call-to-actions.

These are all best-practice approaches that will take your direct marketing and online video marketing initiatives, to a new, higher level, especially on iPads and other mobile devices. And if you think it’s too late to do something this season, challenge yourself and your team to think again. Create a simple video. You don’t need much time to produce it. Then test it next week, with an email alert to your customers, so you can read the results and be ready for 2013. And please comment below with your experience this season with online video.

(If the video isn’t just above this line, click here to view it.)

Overwhelmed by the Complexity of Mobile Marketing? Start Here

When talking to small business owners,  I hear a lot of reasons as to why they haven’t added mobile to their marketing mix … These excuses illustrate why it’s important to educate folks on the benefits and use cases of mobile and to demystify how it all works in order to eliminate the fear and uncertainty that prevent businesses from moving forward with mobile.

When talking to small business owners, I hear a lot of reasons as to why they haven’t added mobile to their marketing mix …

“I don’t have time to manage one more thing … ”

“I’m not sure where to start … ”

“I feel like my competition has already done that … ”

“I can’t keep up with how fast the technology is advancing … ”

“I can’t afford to use mobile for my small business … ”

These excuses illustrate why it’s important to educate folks on the benefits and use cases of mobile and to demystify how it all works in order to eliminate the fear and uncertainty that prevent businesses from moving forward with mobile.

As those businesses begin to understand that mobile is just a piece of the puzzle they become less confused and you hear more of …

“OK, well. There are so many options. So how can it work for MY business?”

Well, I can tell you that if you’re asking yourself that question, you’re already two steps ahead of most business owners.

And you know what? It’s OK to be confused. The truth is, it’s overwhelming.

Mobile websites, responsive design, SMS marketing, MMS marketing, mobile optimized email, QR Codes, location-based services, augmented reality, smarpthone apps, tablets, NFC, the mobile wallet, mobile commerce …

Holy smokes!

Warning: If you try to jump into all of these areas at once, you will most definitely fail.

If you break down your mobile strategy into smaller parts, integrating one aspect at a time, it will become less overwhelming and you’ll be in a position for a successful mobile program without disrupting the rest of your business.

Remember … mobile is just one part of your marketing strategy. Take it one step at a time:

1. Start by planning how it will play a part into your existing initiatives. Mobile is the most dependent marketing channel to-date. You can’t view it as a solo initiative.

Plan accordingly and make sure it will play nice with your other channels, meaning there is one voice and one message. Chasing the “latest shiny object” thinking it will save your business will get you nowhere fast.

2. Focus on what works and what will delivers results to your business.
You’ll most likely start with your mobile site.

The most important thing to work on is making sure your mobile website is friendly. You’ve probably heard people say that having a mobile-friendly website will give you a competitive advantage.

To some degree, this is true—if your competitors are slow to execute. But, to be honest, a mobile-friendly website is now a cost of doing business.

As a small business owner you’re foolish if you don’t have a mobile friendly site. Let’s say you own a restaurant … A recent Google study stated that 88 percent of total search volume for the keyword “restaurant” comes from mobile devices. Do you own a bar? About 97 percent of search volume for the keyword “bar” is coming from mobile devices.

In fact, “restaurants near me” receives 10,000 searches a month from desktops. Guess what? It’s four times more on mobile devices.

This is the reason that you see restaurants and bars listed in the top of search results in Google from your mobile device but not from your desktop.

Small business owners seem slow to adopt mobile. Surprisingly, a restaurant study stated that 95 percent of independent restaurants do not have a mobile website, and only about half of chain restaurants have some sort of mobile site.

This means a lot of unhappy mobile searchers and no repeat visits.

3. You see, mobile searchers have a different intent than those on a desktop. They are looking for different things. When it comes to local locations like a restaurant or bar they most often look for your location, hours, directions and how to contact you.

4. What’s the cost of not offering these folks a mobile friendly version?
That’s easy … a whole lot of sales.

The same Google study found that 94 percent of U.S.-based smartphone users look for local information on their phones and 90 percent take action as a result, such as making a purchase or contacting the business.

90 percent take action …

Read that again.

Basically, if your site is not mobile friendly when a prospective customer is looking for you, the odds of you losing a sale are close to 100 percent.

5. Speaking of being more “findable” … If you list your business in the various directories AND location-based services, such as Google Places, Foursquare, Yelp, Facebook, etc., you’ll put yourself in a better position to be found. It’s like adding your listing to the Yellow Pages.

6. OK. So you built a mobile-friendly website. Now what?

Your mobile website is what many would consider a “pull” channel. This means that it doesn’t offer you the level of outreach that other channels do, but allows you to be right there when your customer needs you.

So next time, we’re going to dive into the second aspect of your mobile strategy to put in place. It’s actually the most overlooked part of mobile, in my opinion.

Seeing as how you are going to start mobilizing your website right now, you have time to prepare for the second part of your small business mobile strategy … mobile-friendly email.

11 Rules For Mobile Marketing Success

If you haven’t heard, a lot of people are talking about mobile. It’s mostly marketers doing the talking, but that’s because the businesses that they’ve helped have their heads down implementing mobile initiatives or at least started educating themselves to better understand how mobile will fit into their marketing mix.

If you haven’t heard, a lot of people are talking about mobile. It’s mostly marketers doing the talking, but that’s because the businesses that they’ve helped have their heads down implementing mobile initiatives or at least started educating themselves to better understand how mobile will fit into their marketing mix.

Now I could go dive into some juicy stats, like how mobile Internet usage will overtake that of desktop by 2014, or that 74 percent of consumers will wait only five seconds for Web pages to load on their mobile devices before abandoning sites. We could even discuss the 46 percent of consumers who are unlikely to return to your mobile site if it didn’t work properly during their last visit, but I’m not going to do that right now. 😉

After interviewing some of the top mobile specialists and brands that strategically use mobile to grow their businesses, I’ve noticed some recurring trends. If you want to use mobile and actually see results that create an impact on your business you can follow these rules:

1. Know your customer. You should create at least three customer personas to identify exactly who your audience is and each communication should be targeted to one of those users. You should aim to give these personas a name, know what their wants and desires are, what their frustrations are, etc. Are they smartphone users or might they have feature phones?

Make sure before crafting your messaging that you know who you’re talking to and how they’d like to keep in touch with you. Is it via email, SMS or possibly a phone call? You need cater to your specific customers or else you’ll be communicating to nobody.

2. Solve a problem. The best use of mobile comes when it solves a problem for someone, whether that be a customer, an employee or even just a problem within your business. Once you’ve identified the problem, ask yourself, “Can mobile solve it?” For example, can mobile possibly eliminate a once time-sucking, paper-pushing task and save time?

If your customers tend not to redeem direct mail coupons, maybe you can deliver offers right to their phone via SMS in order to drive traffic to your establishment during slower hours.

3. Only use mobile if it adds value. Is mobile the best solution? I love mobile, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not always the answer. Too many businesses get caught using mobile for mobile’s sake. Make sure your mobile strategy solves a problem, ultimately adding value to your customer’s life.

4. Don’t chase shiny objects. This is my favorite. Mobile technology is advancing super fast that it’s hard to keep up. It can be overwhelming, I know. People are talking about NFC (Near Field Communication, Augmented Reality, the mobile wallet etc.)

BUT, there is a reason that Coca-Cola allocates 70 percent of its mobile budget toward SMS. Your mobile initiative should be about efficiency NOT shiny objects. Make sure you can differentiate.

Oh, and did you notice that the iPhone 5 doesn’t have an NFC chip? There is a reason Apple chose not to add that feature this time around, but that’s a post for another time. 😉

5. Execute from start through finish: Ideas are great, but it always comes down to execution. Make sure you cover all touchpoints for the mobile component of your program. The most common mistake is driving customers to a non-mobile friendly website.

Your customers may end up on your site from an email, social feed, a QR code, an SMS or a mobile search. Make sure their experience is friendly and helpful, no matter what screen they’re on.

6. Simple is Sexy: Due to the pace of mobile innovation, sometimes things get complicated. Do everything in your power to make your mobile initiative easy to understand and participate in. Make sure you:

  • Use a clear call to action. Most failed campaigns bury the CTA.
  • Limit their options. Focus on your ONE objective then go from there.
  • Don’t make consumers jump through hoops. Does it take five steps to receive the value? Don’t do that. Deliver value immediately.

7. Identify how you’ll measure success. Again, a frequent mistake. You’ll never know if you were successful unless you have a base for success. Is it opt-ins, sales, scans, etc.? You get the point.

There is no way to tell where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been. Establish criteria for success and monitor them during and after your campaign.

8. Deliver value to your customers: They are taking the time to engage with you on the most personal device they own. Make it worth their while.

9. Mobile won’t save your business: Mobile is just a piece of the puzzle. When viewed as a channel on its own, you’ll likely fail. Look at is a part of the whole and you’ll be in a position for success.

10. Look for ways to enhance offline experiences: Mobile places super nicely with other channels. In fact, mobile is one of the most dependent and complementary channels at the same time. Think about how mobile can give legs to your other programs.

Mobile offers an opportunity to take offline, once non-interactive experiences, online with a chance to extend the conversation.

11. Think mobile first: “Mobile first” is a hot topic right now around designing sites that are responsive toward a user’s device and intent. Mobile first goes beyond just your site to all of your points of engagement between you and a customer.

This is unfortunately hard for organizations that are uber-traditional. For those in that boat, I recommend asking yourself when planning any initiative, “What happens if they experience this program from their phone? What does that look like?” Figure it out and accommodate the mobile user.

If you can follow these 11 rules when adding mobile to your strategy you’ll be off to the best possible start and eliminate your odds of being featured on one of the many blogs that cover all the failures in mobile. 😉 You don’t want that to be you now, do you?

10 Reasons Tablets Will Change Video for Direct Marketers

Tablets are quickly becoming the foundation of what may be the tipping point for entering a post-PC era. Direct marketers who start early and learn fast how to take advantage of the exploding tablet marketplace—prime for video direct marketing—will be poised to grow with consumers’ evolving media consumption trends. These changes are fueled

Tablets are quickly becoming the foundation of what may be the tipping point for entering a post-PC era. Direct marketers who start early and learn fast how to take advantage of the exploding tablet marketplace—prime for video direct marketing—will be poised to grow with consumer’s evolving media consumption trends. These changes are fueled by several trends in the market.

Today’s video blog discusses 10 reasons for direct marketers to grasp the potential of marketing and video presentation for the exploding tablet market.

(If the video isn’t just above this line, click here to view it.)

In a related aside, if you have a tablet, you might be familiar with a personalized magazine app called Zite. Zite delivers news and content to its users based on subject preferences. You, as marketers and content producers, can’t ask that your news or blogs be distributed by Zite. Only the producers of this app determine what will be pushed out to its readers. As a reader, you have the ability to tell Zite if you want more of the type of content it pushes to you, or less.

One of my news preferences is on the subject of “direct marketing.” Imagine my surprise to discover our Target Marketing blog appear among direct marketing news a couple of weeks ago. Zite linked to our video, where I was able to easily watch it. Viewing on the iPad with Apple’s new Retina screen was easier on the eyes than watching on my desktop PC.

Folks, if you don’t have a tablet, get one—if only to see how a growing population of your prospects is viewing you and their world. Imagine the possibilities of using it to market your products or services. With nearly 120 million tablets expected to be purchased by consumers this year alone, the demand is already there to present your product and service offerings.

Be the Wave—Or ‘The New Marketers’ Manifesto’

Don’t ride the wave, be the wave. A friend of mine named Devin, who works as a management consultant, recently taught me this phrase. I simply love it. I interpret it to mean: Make your destiny; don’t succumb to it. For marketers, I think this phrase has incredible relevance in today’s rapidly changing landscape.

Don’t ride the wave; be the wave. A friend of mine named Devin, who works as a management consultant, recently taught me this phrase. I simply love it. I interpret it to mean: Make your destiny; don’t succumb to it.

For marketers, I think this phrase has incredible relevance in today’s rapidly changing landscape. It’s no secret that the ground is quite literally shifting beneath our feet as a radical transformation takes place in the way people interact with companies, and marketers are being forced to pivot in a brave new world that is largely unknown.

What’s happened is the Buyer’s Journey has been turned on its head. For those of you unfamiliar with this term, I described it in a recent post. Buyer’s Journey refers to the process prospects go through as they make their decisions on which companies to do business with or buy products from. It’s is a complex evolution that spans the entire progression, beginning with identification of the underlying need, and ending with product selection.

Not long ago, Buyers were relatively uninformed, and the Buyer’s Journey was controlled lock-stock-and-barrel by the marketer. To be successful, marketers essentially needed to try out different approaches, through trial and error, and see what worked. Kind of like throwing stuff at the proverbial wall to see what stuck. Once you found a successful formula, all you needed to do was repeat it again and again.

Companies simply told their customers what they should buy and what they needed to know to buy it. Not surprisingly, firms didn’t really know too much about their customers. They didn’t need to. All they needed to know was what worked from a utilitarian point of view, not why it worked.

Recent technological advances have completely altered the landscape—evolving it to a state that would have been unrecognizable a mere dozen or so years ago. For one, today’s marketer confronts a highly sophisticated, engaged and informed consumer who is comfortable with the digital landscape, and familiar with the latest gadgets and tools. Native to the Web and connected to multiple Social Media networks via the latest devices, today’s buyer may know as much about a marketer’s products as the marketer’s sales or marketing teams. For most marketers, this is a truly frightening concept.

Now add to the mix that many marketers are quickly discovering, to their great consternation, that the sale is often won or lost before the relationship even begins—as greater numbers of buyers educate themselves using the vast resources available on the Web, which include customer reviews , referrals from peers on Social Media, and so on. The Buyer’s Journey of yesteryear has been turned on its head.

This brave new world calls for a brave new approach—one that not only leverages the latest advances in technology, but more importantly focuses on the central narrative of the new way brands engage with their customers and prospects. No, having a slick website and a cursory presence on social media isn’t enough. Marketers need to use technology to transform how they do business.

Today’s firms not only need to get to really know who their customers are, but where they go, what they do, and what affinities they share; they also need to engage them where they’re comfortable, which is increasingly on their mobile devices and in the vast and constantly changing Social Media universe. I know it sounds daunting, but the good news is that marketers can learn to leverage the same technologies that created such change in the first place.

Let’s take a quick look at mobile. Let’s say, for example, I’m in Chicago on business, it’s dinnertime and I’m hungry. I spot a steakhouse across the street from my hotel. But because I’ve never been there, I pick up my iPhone and open up the Yelp App, where I pull up the listing to see what others have to say. Turns out that someone went there last week and had a really, really bad experience … and wrote a review trashing the place. And it’s the only review. Well, looks like I’m not going there tonight.

But fortunately it’s a double-edged sword. Let’s imagine instead that the owner had employed a strategy to drive customers online, specifically to give a review on Yelp. This strategy could involve placing a QR Code on the menu, along with a special offer for a free appetizer for all who give a review—or maybe a deal with Foursquare, Groupon, ScoutMob … or one of many mobile companies offering merchants tools to leverage this exciting new channel. Now instead of seeing just the bad review, I would see many good ones from happy customers.

And this is but one example of many. Another is the best-practice use of QR Codes for Augmented Reality by Best Buy and other electronic retailers. Armed with a smartphone, you can now scan QR Codes affixed to the in-store displays for products you’re interested in. You can obtain detailed product specs, warranty information … even detailed product reviews. Plus, by connecting to social media, it’s even possible to see what friends or followers have to say.

Okay, looks like I’m running out of space. But I guess the main message is: Embrace technology and use it to control your own destiny—don’t let it control you. And the good news is we can take this ‘philosophy’ and apply it to really any type of firm. Take a close look at your company and see how technology can be used to change the way you do business.

Instead of ducking your head in the sand, use new tools—whatever they may be—to give your customers new and improved ways to engage with your company and its products. Delight them. In the end, firms that do so will enjoy great success in coming months and years. Those that don’t … well, they might not be around. Be the Wave.