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The other day, I had someone call me for advice and he was interested in leveraging mobile in his business-to-business-focused company that optimized shipping/boxing for small- to medium-sized companies.
He was unclear on how to use mobile to market to other businesses that might be interested in his company's services and was sort of skeptical that mobile really could even work for B-to-B companies.
I asked him a simple question: "What problem are you trying to solve or are you using mobile for mobile's sake?"
He was sort of confused for a second and asked if I could clarify. I explained that he gave off the impression that he didn't really know why he was interested in using mobile in his business other than that people are talking about it.
You see, just like this gentleman, you need to determine what you're trying to accomplish and then see if mobile could help you achieve that goal. Mobile may not always be the answer. Yes, the mobile guy just said that mobile will not always be the answer.
The most unique aspect of mobile is its utility. When it comes down to it, mobile can do, and be, a lot for your business that doesn't involve marketing. You just have to approach it strategically and not tactically to start to see it this way.
Don't jump to tactics. Trust me, you won't find success that way.
The most successful uses of mobile are ones that are so seamless that your customers even forget they are using a mobile device.
Because mobile threads through all of our daily experiences, you should look to use mobile to help solve a business problem or eliminate inefficiencies.
I wanted to share three ways mobile can impact your business that aren't directly tied to a marketing initiative.
Solve an Operational Problem
Not too long ago, I interviewed the head of mobile for Yamaha. We chatted about how they've slowly integrated mobile into their operations over the last two to five years. Yamaha originally thought it'd leverage mobile to connect with customers. But, little to their surprise, their dealers and dealer staff began leveraging the tablet application to sell on the floor.
Boats are expensive … As a dealer, you can't afford to have every single model with every single feature on the showroom floor. So, Yamaha's sales teams used the app to show customers what a specific product may look like or cost by using their consumer-facing tablet application.
Yamaha realized this was creating a more efficient system to deliver the latest and greatest content to the dealers and make sure everyone was showcasing the most up-to-date materials.
Shortly thereafter, they eliminated delivering printed materials for dealers and equipped them all with tablets and can now deliver the latest product information on the fly.
At the end of the day, the dealers were able to engage with customers and showcase products that would never have to be on the floor to help close deals and give the best customer experience. Oh, and they even saved money from their continual printing costs.
So, if you have a sales or business development team, think about leveraging mobile to enable them to do their job better, more efficiently and always be equipped with the knowledge they need out in the field.
Your Product or Service Can Be Mobile
Have you ever used the app Hotel Tonight or Uber? If you haven't, you should check them out as both of these businesses rely on the mobile device to deliver amazing customer experiences. Their apps drive their business by delivering a utility to their customer.
Hotel Tonight lets you find last-minute specials on hotel rooms in the city you're in. When you open the app, the latest room rates will display around midday and you can book for that evening.
They don't let you book hotels in advance … only that day and that day alone.
Uber is an application that lets you request a private driver based on your location. You can order a taxi, a black car or even a nice SUV. When you need a ride, you open the app and you can see all the vehicles in your proximity. When you request a driver, the app notifies all drivers in the near proximity that you'd like a ride.
Shortly thereafter, you see which driver is coming to pick you up and the time it will take for them to get to your pick up destination. The whole business is powered via this app. Your credit card is on file, so you never even exchange any cash. The tip is included and you pay a slight premium for the service, but it's amazing.
I was just in San Francisco for five days and used it frequently to get around. I never had to flag a cab on the corner—I just pulled out my phone and, in minutes, I was on my way.
You see, both Uber and Hotel Tonight generate business by offering their customers an easy-to-use tool right on their phones to accomplish tasks that were once a pain to complete.
These are two great examples of leveraging mobility AS your business.
Mobile Can Be a Training or Education Tool
I follow two online marketers and business owners who recently launched their own apps as a part of their overall business. Now, they didn't just go and repurpose their content from their site and put it in an app.
They wanted to deliver tremendous value that helped their customers.
Ramit Sethi, a blogger and best-selling author of "I Will Teach You To Be Rich," teaches people how to earn money on the side and get their dream jobs.
Over the last few years of studies and research he was able to give his students word-for-word scripts to help them get a raise, get a job, work from home and much more.
He knows a lot of the situations he trains his students for don't happen at home … they happen while they are out and about nowhere near a computer to refer to these resources.
So what did Ramit do?
He built an app called Negotiate It that includes scripts to help you negotiate just about anything. You can open the app and find scripts to use to lower your credit rate, lower your credit bill, get a raise at your job and a ton of other common situations. He even charged about $4 and turned it into a revenue-generating product that was solving a super-specific need for his students.
Then there is Grant Cardone. He is an amazing salesman and businessperson. He frequently trains people about how to better sell and sell "the right" way that can actually impact your business.
He decided to create a mobile app called CloseTheSale, which offered scripts of closing techniques for just about every single scenario you can think of. They all have clever names and you can refer to the app whenever you're preparing for a big sales meeting or you want a quick selling strategy to learn.
Both of these guys realized that creating an app would allow them to put so many valuable lessons in the palm of their customers' hands to help them reach their own goals. Very specific use cases, but both demonstrate how mobile can be a training or educating tool for your customers.
As you can see, mobile doesn't have to be a marketing tool. In some ways, these three examples indirectly affect your marketing. But their main purpose stems from something entirely different …
So, I challenge you to first ask yourself if you're just doing mobile for mobile's sake. If you are, you need to re-evaluate your "why" immediately.
If you're about to get started using mobile in your business, be sure to have a problem you're trying to solve, a process you're trying to optimize or a product or service that could best be used by a consumer's mobile device.
What are some non-marketing use cases you've seen with mobile?