Top of the mind- First to purchase

Top of the mind- First to purchase

Sure we know teenagers are carrying one, but did you know that almost 75% of adults now carry cell phones? Personally, I think these statistics are even higher- do you know of anyone who does not have a cell phone (if you do PLEASE comment and tell us about it- why they don’t they carry!). For everyone out there who is thinking about how Facebook or Twitter may increase sales- don’t you dare overlook the power of the personal cell phone.

As a case-in-point and an example of how powerful cell phones can be, consider this. This morning at 10:15 a.m., I received a phone call from an unknown number. I’m not in the habit of answering cell phone calls from people I don’t know, so I let it go to voicemail. When I got off work and remembered, I checked my message and that’s what is prompting this blog.

My voicemail went something like this: ‘Good Morning Rob! We notice you haven’t stopped by Family Video in a while and we miss you! Please drop by and rent a movie for only a dollar on us. Also, we have added a free movie rental to your account if you come by in the next 12 days. We hope to see you soon! Thanks!’ The jovial voice on the voicemail coupled with the sweet deal actually made me pause for a good minute or so to wonder if there were any good movies coming out that I could rent. I wasn’t expecting to rent a movie- and to be honest, I won’t simply because I can pretty much rent whatever I want online from Netflix and watch instantly on my computer, but the idea was seeded and that’s sometimes all it takes.

Had the other voice taken a minute longer to list off all of the newest rentals in stock or on-demand online- they may have had me. Again, the message of the voicemail could in itself be a subject for another blog, but the important point remains. YOU have a way to connect directly to your best customers. Family Video requires that you create an account when you first rent a movie from them. The associates tell you this is for reminders about late rentals and to be fair- it is, however, it’s also an incredibly sound strategic marketing decision.

Many of us carry our cell phone on us every day at almost all times. For me, this is certainly the case- heck I even use it for my alarm in the morning so it sits next to me while I sleep! There has NEVER been this type of device that can connect you with your customers, on-demand 24-7, in the history of people! I have a good business owner friend who offers deals through Facebook to encourage shoppers to come in and buy. You know what could prove to be even more effective if used sparingly and correctly? A well timed and worded text message.

Consider this- your business is located in a college town and college students are your primary target market. Sure, Facebook is going to be a good way to market to your target customers- but, a text message at the right time (say around 3 when most classes are just getting out) is going to have a much larger impact. Why? Because you can target your message and deal to your specific customer, instead of becoming lost in the Facebook feed competing with hundreds of your potential client’s friends from within a social network where marketing is frequently drowned out. If you’re a small shop and know your customers, a personal phone call promising a 15% discount via a voicemail or direct appeal will carry even more weight. As an aside, if you’re a retailer, why not create a picture message with a direct appeal, something like:

*Hi Rob! I know how much you love the latest technologies-  we just had this laptop come in. I’ll sell it to you for a 20% discount. Come in and we’ll talk about it! Even if you don’t want to buy this one- I’ve got to show you some of these cool new features!

Again, it must be tailored and it must be personable- you are contacting your customer in a very intimate way that the big chains haven’t figured out how to do right yet (i.e. Family Video calling me at 10 a.m.- a well-timed text message after work would have been much more casual and would not have felt like an ad). Trust this, as soon as the chains catch on to the cell-phone trend, the game will be over and lost. In fact, I’ve been a client of Family Video for over five years, so I’m not going to get upset at one phone call. However, if Family Video makes a habit of calling me to offer deals, I will promptly cancel my account and go to a different store. If my local business owner text messages me with a message like what I put above, I’m going to check it out! Just some food for thought…

In closing, I want to leave you with this thought. In the next few years most people will be surfing the net on a mobile device. If you’re not thinking about this, especially you retailers out there, you’ve already lost the fight. For some other thoughts, learn more about location based mobile browsing [perhaps my next blog :)].

*Picture courtesy Wired Magazine, Full article here!  Very fun article, especially if you’re looking for a laptop for your kids.

Rob Williams is a Business Analyst for the University of Northern Iowa

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