local media insider

Borrell's "Five things to do next" in mobile

Gordon Borrell
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Borrell executives Gordon Borrell, Peter Conti and Colby Atwood ended the 2010 Local Mobile Advertising Conference last week with a slightly fiery “Five things to do next” for those ready to tackle winning the mobile space. We've reprinted their suggestions  with permission here. 

As media analysts we struggle to make our advice practical. As I’ve said before, we have the easy job: We say smart things, then go home, leaving our clients with the difficult task of implementing everything. We try to remember that. But we don’t buy into the vogue ideas of “convergence” and ”multiplatform” opportunities that other consulting firms and many of our clients seem to be embracing. Many of the recommendations swirl around Clark Gilbert’s keynote presentation, which generated a lot of buzz. You could see an immediate uptick in the Twittering via hashtag #bamobi when he started speaking last week about separate — not converged — staffing.

With that need to offer actionable advice squarely in mind, here’s what we’re recommending to those eager to win in the mobile advertising space:

1. Become a fervent evangelist within your company. To assist you, we are making the most dynamic presentation of the conference available on video to everyone. It’s the presentation by Clark Gilbert, CEO of Deseret Media. We want you to show it to the top people in your company. We don’t want you to forward the link. We want you to show this in-person in a 90-minute meeting with your CEO, chairman, board of directors, publishers, GMs, CFOs or anyone who is an executive decisionmaker.“[Editor's note: The video is available at Borrell&Associates.com, you can also access our case study on Deseret  Media here.] Clark’s presentation was nothing short of stunning. We want you to get the boss’s undivided attention. If you need fodder to sell the concept, just tell them that a Harvard Business School professor-turned-local-media-CEO believes that 9% of media companies will survive in the next decade, and that this video describes how to ensure that your company might be one of them. 

2. Think about your career/consider finding another job. Pound the desk for more staffing and expenses for mobile initiatives in 2010. This is your chance to lead your company. No one doubts that mobile will be a huge opportunity in the coming years, so hitch your wagon to that star. If your company doesn’t “get it” or turns your down, consider leaving. It is highly likely that you’re in a dead-end career if your company doesn’t see the opportunity through your eyes. Maybe it’s you. Maybe it’s them. If it were 1910 and you were working for a blacksmith who didn’t believe automobiles would overtake horses, I don’t think your career would fare well staying around to convince the blacksmith.

3. Fix your organizational structure. Colby Atwood believes (and we all agree) that you can’t allow your legacy media folks to control what you’re doing with mobile. They see the opportunity through a legacy-media lens and will apply values and standards that are good for their legacy media jobs, but not for the new mobile environment. Who reports to whom? We don’t believe you will grow as fast as you can if mobile opportunities are determined or heavily influences by people other than those who are squarely focused on mobile opportunities. You need people you can fire if they don’t meet your mobile advertising goals. Here’s the litmus test: Would your sales manager fire a rep if he made 200% of his radio, yellow pages, TV or newspaper budget last quarter but 0% of his mobile advertising budget? If the legacy media people are in charge, they’ll be sending that rep to Cancun. But if your company were serious about the mobile space, that rep would be fired — or at least penalized. Convergence sales are fine, but they won’t get you where you need to be. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again and again: You won’t get anywhere until you have people you can fire for not meeting their online/mobile goals.

4. Invest in database marketing. Pete Conti, our guerrilla marketing genius, is the most fervent advocate of this. Hire a database marketing manager or staff if you don’t have them in place already. Your tech guy isn’t the one. Your whipsmart marketing manager probably isn’t the one. The person needs to know about databases, how to segment lists, and how to deliver targeted advertising to individuals. Walter Hussman, publisher of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, stopped by the hotel to have lunch with us and stunned all of us by talking about the need for “mass media” to migrate to a “one-to-one” delivery model for advertising. He wants to deliver advertising on mobile devices to individuals based on their Claritas profiles, not based on what they happen to be reading. That can’t be accomplished without a database marketing person. Hire one. Or two.

5. Optimize everything for mobile. If our projections are true, nearly two-thirds of all online advertising will be viewed on a mobile device – whether it’s an ipad, laptop, or smartphone. All websites should be mobile-ready right now. Prep all your classifieds, video, basic HTML, photos, animations, etc. for mobile delivery. Examine the opportunity for App-delivered content, but it seems likely that mobile browsers will continue to be used very heavily as people try to access the current web on their small screens. If your site is difficult to navigate or see, it’s the equivalent of downtown retailers failing to anticipate the massive movement to the suburbs in the 1950s and 1960s, and falling victim to strip malls.

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