Mobile StrategyYesterday I participated in a panel discussion on Mobile Strategy at an event organised by EFactor – the world’s largest network for entrepreneurs. The attendees were mostly independent entrepreneurs and SME business leaders.

Despite my years as brand director for Commodore International Corp. I’m not a mobile specialist. So I was there to help us explore how businesses could fit mobile into their overall marketing 2.0 strategy.

The panel discussion was preceded by two presentations. The first was from Sander Munsterman from xs2theworld – who have developed mobile solutions for global brand such as Porsche, IBM, Fanta, Pfizer, Kodak, BBC and Orange. The second was from Edward Hölsken from mediaBunker – who have developed custom apps for everyone from Playboy and Peugot to Sinterklaas!

So let’s see – should you develop an app for your business?

1. Mobile Strategy starts with goal setting

Developing an app because it makes your company look cool and innovative towards stakeholders is OK. If that’s your PR goal. But there’s other ways of looking cool & innovative without going to the expense and trouble of developing a mobile app.

Spending more time on figuring out why you want to do a mobile app, and defining what specifically you want to achieve, will save you the disappointment of developing an app that is not being downloaded or used. It’s a very competitive market. And the app failure rate is high! Here’s a useful little post from my faithful strategy partner on goal setting.

2. Mobile is just another tool or channel; so focus on content

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying mobile is not important. It is. Somewhere next year, mobile will overtake use of the PC. A good reason to be prepared. But ultimately, it’s just another channel – like Facebook, your website, blog or Twitter – that we can use to deliver content to your target audience.

You need to think of Mobile as an integral part of your entire strategic eco-system. The only element that ties together your entire eco-system is content. So, it’s better to first start considering what content you need to offer, what content users create themselves and how you organise the content. This can now inform your mobile strategy.

3. Mobile is not just about campaigns

A large chunk of the apps out there are created for campaign purposes. Their downloads are driven by promotion and advertising with the objective to have customers ‘engage’ with brands through competitions, fun or games and create awareness or sales. But apps can have both a longer shelf-life, more value and a more strategic business focus as well.

A great example is the Sennheiser Frequency Finder. In short: Sennheiser had a problem with one of their flagship products: the wireless microphone. Sound engineers had a tough time getting them to work in venues without interference of other frequencies. This started impacting their customer satisfaction and Trust.

The Sennheiser iPhone app helps sound engineers find and set the right frequency for any given venue. This allows the product to perform much better. Which increases customer satisfaction and Trust. This will create positive word of mouth and increase sales over time. A great example of strategic use of mobile apps!

Mobile apps – look before you leap!

Many business often jump into developing an app without first figuring out their strategy. This often brings problems in the actual development stage. Or sometimes, even earlier.

I talked with a few nice people who advise businesses on the potential and development of apps. Their starting point is always how mobile fits into your business strategy.

One of the app people told me that they have even advised clients not to develop an app – but instead focus on building a properly optimised mobile website.

This is great advice.

I think the biggest learning from this event is this:

Make sure you take the time to develop a mobile strategy that: fits your business strategy, is built around a specific need of your customers and you have the content to sustain its shelf life.

From a personal point of view I want to add one last thing – apps are cool! Once you have a good strategy, focus on the creative side. Create something that your clients would absolutely love to have. Something that really blows their skirt up. Get creative. Care to the max!

If you do all of that, you really are getting this whole 2.0 thing. Have fun!

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