Tell us about Mutual Mobile and what differentiates it from other agencies.
Mutual Mobile is interesting in that we’ve taken an inverse approach to strategy. We spent the past four years and 400 executions learning different lessons on what it takes to build mobile applications across a variety of devices that are useful to both the business and the customer. Other companies led with enterprise strategy and then slowly got into actually building software. We took our hands-on experience and used that to inform our approach to strategy. We’re an experiential strategy organization, which means we’ve taken all our learnings along the way to construct strategy offerings that best suit the needs for organizations just now getting into mobile.
More and more mobile marketers are beginning to see the value in enterprise application development. Why is the potential in mobile so valuable to larger organizations?
In the early stages of mobile, the most immediate priority was leveraging this new medium to engage consumer audience, whether that was B2C or B2B. We were talking about those apps that face customers.
Now, more and more enterprises are realizing the increase in operational efficiencies associated with mobility. Whether we’re arming large, diverse sales organizations with applications that make their lives better, easier or more efficient, or we’re leveraging mobility to increase operational efficiency throughout different business lines of the enterprise, more and more organizations are starting to understand that mobile extends far beyond a direct-to-consumer approach.
Why is the typical way of selling mobile projects broken?
In the early stages of mobile, decisions around mobile strategy were made under a certain degree of duress. In some cases, it was the C-suite saying, “Our competitors have gone mobile; we need to be there too.” In other cases, user requirements and the tech landscape were evolving daily and even rogue business units developing siloed applications without corporate standards and governance because they felt they must go mobile.
Today, organizations face a multitude of challenges because the siloed fashion of development was done without solid strategies in place. These situations and this mindset make selling mobile projects a challenge.
What is the biggest problem with the way marketers develop mobile strategies for clients?
Too many marketers spend too much time developing a plan for the entire scope of the mobile project. When you look at mobile strategy from an enterprise perspective, the natural inclination is to view it as a very complex process that takes months to develop; it’s a sizeable time and dollar commitment. But if you undertake the process in that way, you’ll find yourself six to nine months down the road with a huge, obsolete plan, and that’s it. The market is just changing too fast to approach mobile strategy the way most enterprises approach solving problems.
How does Mutual Mobile apply an agile or lean philosophy to its strategy for developing mobile app?
We’ve learned throughout four years of doing mobile development that the best way to create world-class software is to do it in an agile fashion. Essentially, it becomes an exercise in deconstructing your project or boiling down these complex concepts into more manageable components. We’ll take a particularly topical interest or need for a client, take him through our very lean, nimble and fast process and get to actionable insights that drive actionable plans for customers based on three key criteria. Those are the needs of the user, how those needs align with the company’s business objectives and the company’s ability to execute. Going through that process, we can pretty quickly come to a conclusion as to which efforts are going to add value and at what level of mobile maturity the enterprise currently exists in order to get there.
When we’re looking at value to the end user and ability of the enterprise to execute, we’ll often uncover other areas of opportunity we didn’t start with, which is always a valuable outcome of the exercise as well.
How do these two-week sprints also help the clients better understand what they and their customers want, and most importantly, need?
For those organizations that are steeped in a linear approach to strategic thinking, the traditional waterfall approach, applying an agile philosophy to development is a bit different. Waterfall is top down; agile is bottom up. In a lot of ways, it requires the client to rethink the way he’s historically done things.
As an industry, we’ve become laser-precise in how we develop for the desktop because we’ve had 20 years to figure it out. It becomes complex when the targets are in motion, and that’s mobile. The hyper-evolution of this marketplace, which is being driven almost exclusively by user demands, requires organizations to think differently in order to keep pace. Most are coming to the realization that we can’t spend months devising a strategy or we risk irrelevance with this new breed of hyper-connected consumers. Our approach resonates very well and is extremely successful at getting to the value mobile brings to our clients fast.
What role does analytics play when creating a mobile strategy for a brand? What are some of the most important metrics and numbers to consider?
Analytics is hugely important, no doubt. CMOs are held to much higher standards now and are forced to provide data that supports their efforts. Mobile is of such increasing importance and complexity that companies simply can’t figure out where to start without analytics. Analytics help determine what the primary devices are for your users and the operating system consumers use to engage with your brand. Analytics drive decisions of where to start. For instance, if your target audience is using a particular operating system plus or minus 75 percent, then obviously it makes sense to guide their strategies where their consumers are. The right audience, right message and right time still very much apply with the addition of right context.
The contextual implications of mobile are where things really get interesting. The hyper-socialization of mobile — understanding where users are, what time of day they’re connecting, who’s in their social circles and what they’re interested in all allows marketers to deliver on the promise of 1:1 marketing.
What trends in marketing/advertising do you find most interesting/exciting?
NFC has fascinating implications for mobile marketing. While right now it’s only being talked about in terms of mobile payments, I see a ton of opportunities from a marketing and advertising perspective. One of the great gifts the mobile device has given us is that it’s gotten us out of very tethered environments and back out experiencing the world. When you look at the click-through rates of 1 percent in advertising, it’s not very impressive. With NFC, you can receive branded notifications at bus stops or from billboards out in the real world.
Wearables are another interesting topic. There’s a lot of debate about glass and how disruptive that’s going to be. That may or may not be the future of wearables, but it’s a start. We’re seeing technology embedded in clothes and even people. The Internet of things and the relationship between animate and inanimate objects is just starting to explode. Who knows where we’ll be and what great opportunities will exist for marketers five, 10 or 20 years down the road.
One reason you love what you do: I’m amazed by the rate of change. We are really fortunate to be alive at this particular point in history. There is a fundamental shift happening in the way humans engage with the world. Digital is now always on your person, and these devices are becoming very natural extensions of our human selves; they are allowing us an interface to engage with a digital world. Twenty years from now we’ll look back and this era as Jurassic, but we’re pioneering an added digital layer to the human race — a seventh sense.
Favorite ad: This is a couple of years old now, but one of my absolute favorite marketing efforts that tied mobile and experiential together was the launch of Jay-Z’s autobiography “Decoded” in partnership with Bing. The campaign took every page from his book and plastered them around the world — the bottom of a hotel pool, in a cab in Brooklyn and hanging from a basketball backboard at his old playground — tying into what that place meant to him in his life. Followers could go around, and via the partnership with Bing, locate these pages and then construct the entire book. It was a tremendously powerful way to tie mobile and experiential marketing together.
Must-read book: “Good Strategy, Bad Strategy” is a fascinating look into how organizations should balance the art of possible with the art of pragmatism (just because we can doesn’t mean we should). It’s a must read for anyone in a strategy position, especially specific to what's going on in the mobile space.