Jim Cannella on Mobile Marketing
Los Angeles-based entertainment company House of Blues Entertainment (HOB) prides itself on being ahead of the curve, both in its mission—to celebrate diversity of cultures and music—and as an enterprise in general. Home to live music of all genres, the first House of Blues opened its doors in Cambridge, Mass., in 1992 and now has venues throughout the United States and Canada. One of the first companies to make music available for download, its latest technological leap forward is the mobile marketing initiative it launched a year ago—partnering with wireless and broadband communications provider Motorola and more recently mobile marketing service company Soapbox Mobile. After all, mobile marketing may be the perfect way to reach customers in a dark, and often noisy, concert venue. Jim Cannella, the company’s national director of corporate partnerships, spoke with Target Marketing about the program.
Target Marketing: What are the driving factors behind this mobile marketing initiative?
Jim Cannella: As we’ve seen, the ticket-buying public has made the transition to being very comfortable with online transactions. In general, people are moving toward a mobile world. When the public becomes comfortable with [buying tickets and products via phone], we want to be able to seize on that moment and not be two years behind.
TM: How are you using mobile marketing at this time?
JC: A lot of what we’re doing with Soapbox so far has been with the simple messages. You [the customer] send an artist’s name to a code [from HOB], and you can receive band information back. We’ve also done a lot of promotional contests. While you’re waiting in line outside, you can sign up for a chance to meet the band or for a chance to win a shirt or a phone.
TM: How else are you building your customer database?
JC: We recently did a tour with the band Lifehouse. At the bottom of all the [Lifehouse] print ads that ran around the country, we had a call to action that said to receive tour updates, text a keyword into a code. The message the user received back was “confirming that you’re opting in to receive information.” In our limited testing, we found that to be pretty exciting for fans, and we’re going to roll that into a much bigger thing. If I can scan and compare my Soapbox Media database and my list of existing HOB.com members, link those two up, then I can get a bigger picture of [my customers]. That’s when I’ll figure out when to opt [customers] into a regular dialogue. My absolute goal is to be the first major music company in the United States that allows you to buy a ticket via a mobile phone.
[From the April 2006 issue of Target Marketing magazine. To learn more, visit www.targetmarketingmag.com.]