I had a chance to attend the first ever MobiU here in the Twin Cities. Presented at Best Buy Headquarters by the Heartland Mobile Council, a non-profit organization based in Chicago, the evening included panel discussion and some case studies.
What I was most impressed with was the focus group that was assembled to find out how “real” people use mobile in relationship to their buying habits.
While my first impression was that many in the focus group were perhaps more tech savvy than average (some were from Best Buy) there were enough mainstream consumers to offer some insight. Takeaways from the session included: the use of push notifications are clearly annoying and the first thing the group deactivated after signing up for a retail loyalty program. These notifications included both native and text messages. This highlighted the issue that many e-mail marketers, and even telemarketers, have been wrestling with for years; The need to moderate how often they intrude on consumers’ lives. The line between communication and spam is very thin. Additionally, mobile is such an intimate form of communication, marketers and brands need to be especially aware of how such intrusions can backfire.
Comments also highlighted some disconnect with brands and the technology they use. One participant noted that pricing not always matched between the mobile app and the store. Additionally, when I asked if any ever presented a mobile code or coupon to someone in a store, only to to be met with an unknowing blank stare, there were plenty of “yes” responses. And, while many went on to say that they could eventually find someone who was ‘in the know,’ they really shouldn’t have to. It’s vital for brands to make sure everyone, from CEO to frontline clerk, is in the know before launching such a campaign.
The best part of the Focus Group panel were the ideas generated by the panelists themselves on what brands like Best Buy, Target and Cub could provide on a mobile platform including help in locating items within the store quickly.
The Heartland Mobile Council is a Chicago-based non-profit organization whose mission it is to educate brands on how to use mobile effectively. Founder Hugh Park Jedwill kicked off the evening with some remarks including plans of launching incubators and more events around the country. He emphasized that the MobiU was a “safe learning environment” where brands were welcome to take part, but not sell or make pitches. In fact, he talked so much about that environment and the actual Heartland Mobile Council, it started to sound much like a pitch itself.
All in all, the event was a solid evening of learning and exchanging of ideas. Any organization that can precipitate that kind of interaction on the topic of mobile is great…and needed to effectively capitalize on mobile technology.
Parts of this post originally appeared in a post in Minnov8.com.