Making mobile the heart of multichannel marketing in next planning cycle

Published 30th September

I just read this great article by Thom Kennon and thought it would be worthwhile to re-publish it on my blog to spread the word. This is an absolute must read for every marketer. It is a wake-up call for all those who still think that mobile marketing can be “the fifth wheel” of a marketing strategy or, worse still, that mobile marketing does not need to feature at all.

Making mobile the heart of multichannel marketing in next planning cycle

Thom Kennon

Thom Kennon is vice president of strategy at Wunderman


I bet you have become as weary as me when, each year, usually during the post-Thanksgiving prediction season, we start reading those pieces about “This year [coming year] is definitely the Year of Mobile.”

In the spirit of this tradition, we offer up a short pop quiz to help you calculate exactly when your own personal year of mobile was:

Diageo launches searchable night life, entertainment database and mobile on-demand service – NiteFly. Available to subscribers in select British cities, NiteFly lets opt-in punters stumble from clubs at closing hours, ping the service from their mobile phones and quickly find what’s next on the drinking and dining dance card for an after-hours lark.

OK – guess the year. 2009? 2007? Maybe back in the dark ages of 2003? Nope. It was pre-digital apocalypse – 2000. Although I do not know why they trusted me and us, I lead the digital marketing team that concocted it.

Case and point being, whether you are a brand or a marketer, at this point in the game it is highly recommended that you sort out your own personal year of mobile – and get on with it.

Chances are you have a similar story, perhaps even of similar vintage.

Even for those of us still awaiting some great, communal customer-led surge into the mobile channel (hint: stop that), there are, of course, things left to do, frontiers to brave, case studies to create, business to be won and customers to be captured.   Many, I would boldly suggest, through mobile.

We’re gonna need a new map
So, what is your plan?

Unless you are a dedicated mobile agency, provider or channel specialist, when you sit down to plan your – or your client’s – marketing campaign calendar, how often do you start with mobile?

I am suggesting we not simply move “mobile” to the front of the planning queue from its current position as the last box ticked. Perhaps you start each new planning cycle with a simple, must-answer question: “What’s mobile’s role in my all-channel plans and how will it be integrated?”

Here is an example. You are a credit card issuer who traditionally focused mostly on direct mail, digital display and search engine marketing when it came to hitting your acquisition numbers.

After a duck-and-cover year (for many of us), you are now ready to venture from the bunker and resume with the important work of getting new customers. What if you modified your planning process by asking yourself this, instead of where does mobile – maybe – fit within my digital strategy:
What’s the role of mobile within my overall marketing strategy? Heck, let us be specific. What’s the role of mobile within my above-the-line and advertising strategy?  What’s the role of mobile in my integrated search strategy? My out-of-home and print strategies? How about my retail, merchandising and customer/partner marketing programs and campaigns?

Pretty soon your card customer acquisition campaigns will all start including mobile as a primary call to action for your out-of-home ads. As a critical push/pull from Web with SMS links to register or buy. Even incentivized “txt to a friend” offers tapping mobile’s viral reach, ease and affect. Oh, of course, optimizing for mobile search visibility to capture mobile searchers for bank branches.    

See where I am heading? You need a new map to get you there. A map that lets you see where, how, and when mobile fits everywhere into the plan. A map which, perhaps, presumes that mobile’s role is not at the end or even at the beginning of your all-up campaign channel and media planning process. It is at the heart.

New model planning
As we all emerge from the same bunker as our credit card brand colleague above, whether we are marketing soda, mobile phones, insurance, hamburgers, or luxury autos it is not too far of a stretch to suggest that “digital” – in all its components and expressions – can, should, must now live at the heart of our fully integrated marketeering strategy.

And, at the heart of our digital channel and media strategy, we boldly place mobile.  Call it an exercise, call it a lark. 

Call it a new way of thinking inside-out, about how we plan, implement and optimize our all-channel/all-media marketing. Call it a new planning model that better fits with the brave new world we inhabit as we improvise, invent and innovate our way towards wringing the maximum efficiency from all our marketing spend.

As presumptuous and vain as it might seem, things might start to look something like this …

What do we do now
OK, OK, I know this is a lot to suggest in one sitting. Toss a little water in your face, walk around a little, take a break. OK, we ready? Let us continue.

As we shift our above-the-line budgets from channels and media focused on impressions and clicks to more organic and responsive messaging to ignite discovery and sharing, I am suggesting that digital has every right to sit at the center of our planning process and models. And there is mobile, in the center of the plan model.

If you need a really persuasive reason for the board or your boss or you client, try this: When it comes to all-channel marketing nothing has changed the digital marketer’s playbook more than the emergence, adoption and increasing affordability of the mobile Web since search changed everything the last time.

To put this in an historic frame, before that, arguably, it was the birth of data-driven direct mail. Before that, and I know you beat me there – television.

The mobile Web. It is that big. What this means for marketers – especially for those amongst us who have yet to experience their own personal year of mobile – is this: you have no excuse for staying on the side lines.

Assuming you have been busy over the past decade getting really good at digital content strategy, search optimization, online CRM, ecommerce and response analytics you will be fine. Your mobile strategy and your digital strategy just became one and the same thing.
Pockets are everywhere and so are purses, briefcases and those weird holster things – and most of them have mobile devices in them. The simple fact is that there will soon be more than 1 billion Web-enabled mobile devices in global circulation and every one of them is attached to a potential customer of yours or mine.

So, as you plan for next year and beyond and chart the media, channel and touch point mix that will deliver your most efficient return on reaching specific business and marketing targets such as sales, downloads, visits, usage, referrals, repeats, renewals, average basket size, in-store traffic and bottom-line results, ask yourself: how many of those could use mobile as an essential touch point or consumption point in the mix?

Chances are, there’s not a campaign you could think of in 2010 and beyond – above the line, below the line and through the line – that could not be boosted, anchored, amplified or even saved by asking mobile to do its job. Mobile is at the heart of your new marketing model. 

Happy personal year of mobile – to repeat and first-time callers alike.

Thom Kennon is vice president of strategy at relationship marketing agency Wunderman New York. Reach him at

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