Mobile Marketing for B-to-B: Change in the Air(waves).

Guest post from Aylie Fifer, a Relationship Architect at Sonnhalter.

There is a revolution starting in the world of mobile marketing and it isn’t just for B2C – it is for everyone, including B2B. According to a recent article in Mobile Marketer, B-to-B mobile marketing will go from 26 million in 2009 to 106 million in 2014 according to Forrester Research.

Every now and again a technology comes along that is a total game changer for humanity and shifts the paradigm of the world we live in. Harnessing electricity. The Assembly line. The Internet. The iPhone. With the recent influx of smart phones and smart phone technology, we are seeing a whole new world – the world of mobile marketing.

Two-thirds of the world’s population has a mobile phone subscription—4 billion people—and by the end of 2010 there will be 5 billion wireless subscribers worldwide, according to some estimates. And a majority of these phones are now moving to the smart phone platform. From the Apple iPhone to the Motorola Droid to Blackberrys…the trend for mobile is to go to a smart phone or lose market share.

As a result of this new use by consumers, no longer are we capturing people in context – the trade magazine, the TV show – not to say that these mediums are dead, but we now are faced with thinking differently. With smart phone usage on the rise, people check it at different parts of their day – not just at work or at home – but several different parts of their day. This has shifted the traditional approach to marketing as now we are faced with catching people’s attention throughout the day.

I would argue that advertising to your target and catching them at a time of day when they might not being thinking about work makes the message resonate even stronger because it IS out of context. For instance, if a carpenter goes out over the weekend and sees an ad through his phone about a certain type of tool, this stands out to him because it is unexpected – he is out socially and may not be in “work mode.”

People have become more immune to advertising, so one way to catch their attention – and make your brand stand out in their minds – is to catch them when they AREN’T thinking about work, and to do it in an entertaining way.

Mobile advertising has furthered this push and while I am a firm believer in a good segmentation strategy, it is also true that everyone is a consumer. When people hang up their clothes at the end of a hard day, they turn off their work mode and begin the “home” mode. Thus, I would argue that you can’t just segment into demographics or ethnographics, you now need an added dimension – what I call parallel-ographics.

You live your life in parallels – you may talk to your husband (or your wife) during the day and realize that you need to pick up diapers so you pick up your smart phone and you search for a coupon. In your work day, you are a plant manager, but through the use of mobile, you just dipped into your parallel life – that of mother and wife. And while you are at the store after work hours picking up those diapers, you get an email from work and you are instantly transferred into your parallel life – that of plant manager. Your context shifts constantly and instead of having separate times for work and home, this use of mobile and smart phones has made us increasingly blur that line and we run our work and home lives as parallels instead of separate.

As a salesperson for a B2B company, you may be able to show a product demo from your phone when you are out socializing and happen to meet a potential customer. The lines between social and work life have become even more blurred with the onset of mobile. Think of mobile as your portal to the Internet and the beyond – where you might have in the past only done on a laptop computer, you can now access – at any time – on a smart phone.

The onset of mobile marketing means that you never fully turn off your roles throughout your day, which changes the way a marketer catches you and keeps your interest. And as a marketer, to attack this new paradigm of living, you have to approach it from a parallel-ographic standpoint – knowing that the message needs to appear in multiple places, at multiple times and that yes, everyone is a consumer.

What are your thoughts on mobile marketing? Do you think it will be the next big thing?

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