#IS13 – Mobile Killed the Analog Star
This year’s Houston Interactive Marketing Association Interactive Strategies Conference was all about screens. iPad screens. Computer screens. Phone screens. And even the old-school favorite, television screens. Many speakers stressed the importance of optimizing content for mobile devices, with Blue Sky Marketing’s Michelle LeBlanc going so far as to say, “If you're not mobile friendly, your customers will leave you without a second thought." Yikes. It was fascinating to learn about the world of mobile marketing, where things such as finger size (generally about 40 x 40 pixels) can make the difference between success and failure. (Have you ever heard folks complain that their fingers are “too fat” for touch screen? Chances are, it’s just the site’s buttons that are too small.) The concept of SoLoMo (SOcial, LOcal, MObile) integration that Jeremiah Andrick discussed was a study in all the ways brands can (and should) market to their customers using their handheld devices. For example, Starbucks has a vast collection of apps, maps and location services that enable their customers to do everything from reload money on their Starbucks card to pinpoint the nearest location. There were also sessions that had implications far beyond the screens. The keynote panel, featuring Blinds.com CEO Jay Steinfeld, Susan Saurage-Altenloh of Saurage Research, Brent Richey of Tapad and local celebrity Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, was refreshingly honest and open about the pitfalls of adjusting to the digital landscape. Steinfeld, who also writes about leadership and employee happiness at Inc.com emphasized the importance of putting ALL of your product’s reviews on the internet; after all, he reasoned, “If you’re good, then there won’t be much bad. But if you’re bad, that’s your fault.” The day concluded with lessons in empathy in the digital age. Yoel Kluk reminded us that behind every great product is a deep and personal connection with its consumers. It doesn’t matter if your company has the best, most revolutionary product in the world – if you aren’t asking the right questions and attempting to understand your customers’ fundamental needs, they won’t go for it. Then, Culture Pilot’s Tim de Silva brought it home with a meditation on the ubiquitous mobile era. He stressed the importance of transparency and information sharing, quoting legendary programmer Richard Stallman: "When users don't control the program, the program controls the users.” He also emphasized knowing and accepting that data is being shared about you and your brand all the time. (Fun fact: We now generate the amount of data from the beginning of time until 2003 every two days.) So, embrace it, and use it to build intimacy and trust. As a company, we’ve always known that it’s important for your flesh-and-bone self to jive with your online avatar. But, hearing the bastions of the mobile marketing community stress that you and your brand needs to be “on” – online, on Twitter, on the screens of the world – all the time, it’s easy to feel a bit overwhelmed. And then we take a look at the values we trumpet loud and proud, remember that we work with folks that operate the same way and embrace the coming era of transparency with open arms.