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Mobile spells effective and affordable opportunity for SMBs

“Seventy percent of participants view mobile ads as personal invitations, opening opportunities for brand advertisers to engage consumers.”— IAB Mobile Phone Shopping Diaries, May 12, 2012

If nearly three out of four people look at mobile ads as some sort of personal invitation, it means that the market is rife with opportunity. But why should the brand advertisers have all the fun? With a pie as big as mobile, it is time for small to midsize businesses to jump in and grab a slice – or three.

Let us face it: the ways that consumers digest information and advertisements are changing, and fast.

Buzz for biz
In a perfect world, SMBs would possess the mega advertising budgets of their big-brand counterparts. Not surprisingly, they do not. But that does not mean there are no opportunities to compete effectively and affordably against the big guys.

Big brands have lots of outlets and, in particular, focus on the three screens that most of us use and interact with daily: television (first screen), computer (second screen) and mobile devices (third screen).

Today, an exciting transformation is spelling more good news for SMBs: the mobile screen is now becoming the first screen.

Unlike their TVs and computers, nearly everyone carries that third screen anywhere and everywhere they go, from the moment they roll out of bed until they once again hit the sack.

This shift in “screen levels” is giving SMBs an affordable way to compete against the big guys in a medium that is growing exponentially.

Three’s the charm
There are plenty of advantages for the “new first screen” beyond just being an affordable entry point into the mobile ecosystem:

1. Mobile advertising provides a unique opportunity for SMBs to target consumers via, text, geography, search and display.

Even more exciting is that SMBs can target customers around their store, near competitors’ locations, at events or at specific destinations such as golf courses or the beach.

With mobile advertising, SMBs gain entry into a consumer’s consideration set or affect his or her impulse behavior.

For example, John’s phone provided a local pizza parlor ad today at lunchtime as he neared its location. John brought his lunch today, but after seeing the ad, he is considering lunching at the pizza parlor tomorrow.

The pizza parlor targeted John with a message and provided information for his consideration. John and others who saw the ad may visit there today, tomorrow or later in the week or month, but the objective of informing potential consumers was accomplished.

In another example, Jessica is about to disembark from her bus to go to work. She is playing a game on her iPad and notices an ad with an offer to purchase a large coffee for just $1 at a nearby café.

Since Jessica overslept and did not have time for coffee at home, she is psyched for this offer. The café influenced morning commuters’ impulse behavior since the offer was relevant to the time, location and people in the area. It is truly targeted mobile advertising where consumers are and when they are there.

2. Mobile advertising helps advertisers of any size attract more eyeballs for their money.

Newspaper, radio and TV ads are expensive and you cannot easily change your ad once it is completed. Mobile advertising offers options for changing messaging on the fly and better controlling the ad spend.

SMBs should work on reaching consumers that are looking for their business along with speaking to consumers at the right place and time.

Google AdWords is a great example of how marketers can control a budget while addressing the issue of consumers looking for a business.

On the other hand, there are consumers that advertisers want to reach even when they are not looking. Both are important considerations, since consumers are doing both looking and are open to speaking.

Today’s mobile advertising ecosystem includes solutions that allow advertisers to speak with their mobile consumers at the local level and through targeted ads. And with mobile advertising, swapping out ads that are not working or having a rotating series of ads is easy, helping increase effectiveness.

3. Mobile advertising offers fun ways to incentivize consumers by offering coupons, deals, specials and more from one ad.

“Eighty percent of mobile users prefer locally relevant advertising and 75 percent are more likely to take an action after seeing a location-specific message.” – JiWire Audience Insights Report, Feb. 12, 2012

SMBs can capitalize on that stat by letting customers and potential customers know about a “happy hour,” “summer sale or “special offer.”

These powerful tactics only get strong when location is added to the mix since consumers are reached with a great offer when they are nearby.

The “right place at the right time” strategy increases consumer interaction. Consider an advertising message with a strong call to action and offer to match in order to maximize results.

Mobile marketing is like having a giant street team handing out flyers with your message. Mobile is taking the old street team method and making it more actionable, more dynamic and more affordable and lots more measurable.

THE BOTTOM LINE? Evaluate all mobile advertising options that make sense for your budget, timing and where you want to speak with your consumers.

Ryan Golden is CEO of Moasis Global, San Francisco. Reach him at [email protected].