January 04, 2013

Radio's Lessons for Mobile Mobile marketers can learn a lot from the first mobile advertising medium – radio. And while the notion sounds retrograde, long established consumer behavior has simply shifted from one device to another. Bleeding edge mobile savants need to pay attention to the not-so-distant past. Consumers brought their analog habits to the mobile digital world. Radio, like mobile media, has only two key functions; time saving or time wasting. “Utility and entertainment or death” could easily be a shared marketing motto since on-the-go consumers want what they need instantly, have no patience for technical glitches and can be disappointed and gone in a nanosecond. Customer expectations created by mobility are extremely fickle. It’s not the technology; it’s service and relevance in the moment that counts. Consider these 4 lessons from our radio brethren. We are creatures of habit. We get up and need stimulation. We commute and need to be either distracted, informed or calmed. And often we need companionship to fall asleep. AM and PM drive times are hard-wired behaviors. Content and devices can be targeted and timed to enhance and to intersect consumers’ day-to-day routines. The better integrated content and devices are into lifestyles and work routines; the better the marketing result. We rely on mood elevators. We are creatures governed by biorhythms that can be affected by sound, sight and content. People turn to music, imagery, news, sports and combative talk to change things up. Content impacts and regulates body chemistry, stress levels and happiness. Understanding and using these levers, brands can delight consumers. Mobile marketers can provide background and ambient cues or take center stage and drive attention and emotion if they understand who is tuned in, what their frame of mind is, where they are and what they need. We are our demographics. Birds of a feather flock together. Most people’s musical tastes are locked-in by the time they are 16 and are predictable based on age, geography, income and education. The people who love Rush Limbaugh or Howard Stern are decidedly different. Different musical genres, design and display formats, content areas and messaging techniques appeal to different audience segments. One size never fits all. Mobile media needs to be programmed like cable TV or radio by deeply understanding and appealing to the psychology, demographics, sensibilities and lifestyles of thin audience slices. It’s all about how the content resonates with the target customer. Everything is local. The FCC artificially limited the range of radio stations in the licensing process. And even though wireless mobile devices can work almost anywhere, a 10-mile radius bounds most lives. Geo-fencing is a new term but hardly a new concept. Proximity, familiarity and convenience drive behavior. Mobile content has to leverage GPS and other emerging technologies to connect needs with nearby handy solutions. And while mobile is the newest media darling, the principles that will drive its success as a commercial medium are as old as Marconi.
6 Ways to Solve the Content Conundrum Content is king. Content is media. Content is the new black. Social marketers are scrambling to produce content that will engage friends and followers and prompt viral sharing. There is a land rush mentality toward social content. Too many marketers are filling the content box with tired old crap or me-too materials. Before crafting, designing or curating content, consider 6 basic strategies. Be Original or Die. There is no dearth of tips, recipes or snappy motivational ideas in social media or on the Web. Nobody is looking for more. You can’t compete with publishers who are known for their expertise and have significant consumer franchises. Don’t start cranking out me-too copy or images, before you figure out what content feeds your brand image. The critical criterion is … what content will set you apart and be intimately and uniquely linked to your brand? If your content can’t deliver this. Don’t bother. Expose Yourself. Most brands have bits of information, under exposed ingredients, competitive nuances, surprising processes and/or quirky people behind them. Too many are reluctant to mine these rich veins for social content. But helping fans understand who’s behind the curtain and how they do what they do is extremely fertile ground to drive interaction and sharing. What you think is routine; fans find fascinating. Give consumers insight into the character and people of your brand. Calculate Context. Who takes advice or lifestyle tips from their peanut butter, their air conditioner or their snow boots? Understand the real dimensions of utility, value and entertainment between the brand and your fans. The texture and the expectations about customer-brand relationships vary. Consider the variables that influence the relationship (frequency of purchase, frequency of use, complexity of use, cost, level of ego involvement, key purchasers) to guide you in selecting subject matter, developing the appropriate voice and scheduling posts or tweets. If you make shoes can you comment on red carpet fashion? If you sell soap, do you have an opening to discuss family values? If you sell tires, is it credible to look ahead to the Indy 500? Can an insurance company wish fans, “Happy Easter?” Think long and hard about where you fit in customers’ mental maps and what topics you can credibly raise with your audience. Create Categories. In searching for the right context, develop content categories that will give your social communications texture and ultimately can yield a productive and interactive cadence. Typical content buckets include … brand attributes, subjects directly affected by the brand, pop culture or celebrities, promotions, charitable work or holidays and events. Direct Interaction. Social content is the substance of an on-going conversation. Many brands tell and sell too much. They don’t open up enough opportunities for interaction. Be sure you are asking questions, taking polls, soliciting consumer input and responding, referring to popular topics and memes and are being perceived as involved in the on-going social swirl. Be straightforward and be directive. If you don’t ask followers to act; they won’t. This will affect what you post, how you present it and when you post. Social media is high school. Everybody wants to be in on what the cool kids are doing. Offer the jocks, the nerds, the prom queens and the wallflowers opportunities to take part. Figure on stimulating some of the followers; some of the time rather than trying to get everyone fired up at once. Count Carefully. By posting and counting carefully, using embedded and 3rd party tools, you’ll quickly see which topics resonate with your fan base. Then test which sequences of posts or tweets generate the most likes, re-tweets or shares. The savvy social marketing crowd is making data-driven decisions about content. They are zeroing-in on information and entertainment that delights their followers and encourages them to share and re-post. Keen eyes on metrics help leading social brands develop predictable subject cadences to beat Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm, optimize free viral reach and deliver great social media experiences.

Danny Flamberg

I am a veteran marketing consultant working with leading and emerging brands

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