Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Making Mobile Work for Marketers

While pundits debate mobile’s uses as an marketing medium, examples are all around us of brands experimenting with this new medium. New to the fray is General Growth Properties, a mall developer and owner of Water Tower Place in Chicago, Fashion Show at Tyson's Galleria outside Washington and South Street Seaport in New York. According to a recent story in Mobile Marketer Daily, the mall operator partnered with Mobisix to extend its email-based The Club program to include The Club Mobile, an alerts service that relies on SMS.

These are clearly early days for what’s being billed as the nation’s first national mall-based mobile advertising network. And it’s understandable that General Growth would follow its retail customers’ embrace of offer-driven loyalty. Here’s how the program currently works:
Consumers who sign up online with mobile number and other preference data at will receive discounts and offers via regularly scheduled text messages. Those who sign up stand a chance to win a $1,000 shopping spree.
The loyalty business is waking up to the fact that earning loyalty requires more than offering customers deals. At Loyalty EXPO earlier this month, there was lots of discussion about the shortcomings of across-the-board discount oriented programs and the need for a more nuanced approach.

Here are a three ideas for General Growth and others like them to harness the unique opportunity that mobile affords them to drive profitable business to their tenants and provide real value to end users:

  1. School’s out, and moms are looking for low cost things to do with the kids. Mobile alerts about local mall activities like face painting, story telling, and other goings-on would be welcome news and smart uses of SMS for moms on the go.

  2. People are looking for value, and stores are offering all kinds of discounts and deals on services like gift wrapping, not just merchandise. Marketing these service type deals in advance of a shopping trip may fall on deaf ears as they really become relevant once the shopper is at the mall. Mobile alerts about tenants offering free gift wrapping, or other services would be useful and again, don’t require any additional spend or discounts beyond what the retailer is already offering.

  3. Shoppers at high-end properties like General Growth’s are tuned into good-works and brands with a social conscience. Malls are a great venue for supporting those good works. Whether it’s hosting a local area clean up that gets the locals involved or a pancake breakfast honoring the local fire department, the mall is a gathering place and natural community venue. General Growth could use other media to promote these events in advance and mobile to promote them the day they’re occurring to drive participation.
General Growth is in deep trouble. So are malls in general. As CB Whittemore suggests in her recent blogpost “Rethinking the Mall & Uncovering Retail Creativity” the next stage for retail is socializing the retail environment – and I would argue, that extends to the mall experience.

Increasingly, community is where we make it…and that includes the mall.


C. B. Whittemore said...

Judy, you are absolutely right and mobile adds a fascinating dimension to the possibilities with targeted, relevant messages that set the stage for an interested community. Thanks for referring to me in this discussion. CB

Jeff Cloud said...

Hi Judy,

Great article! I saw it today on another site, but it looks like you are the original author.

Glad I came across your blog and will follow along to see future insights!

Jeff Cloud said...

Great article Judy! I came across it today and may have been published by someone else, but it appears you are the original author!

Good thoughts on alerting moms to events at the malls this summer!

Glad to connect and I'll definitely follow to see future insights!