Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Mobile Marketing?

Singapore sent a total of 911 million mobile text messages for February alone in 2007. With a population of 4.6 million, you really wonder how the billion messages came about when the island is conveniently and nicely connected wirelessly as well.

In a recent effort by the Singapore government to comprehend Mas Selamat, the head of terrorist body - JI, who had escaped the detention centre in early March, all three major telecommunications body sent out MMS with the criminal's photo and notice to all mobile phones within their mobile network.

In 2007, an SMS by an innocent staff of a remote pet shop claiming it was closing down and all the pets if unadopted, will be put to sleep in SPCA that resulted in an island-wide call for adopters whereby the influencing effect was overwhelming, sending thousands of phone calls to the pet shop, and ended up with a news space on the national newspaper - The Straits Times (well, if they had such marketing in the start, they wouldn't need to close down).

These are just some recent examples of the power of mobile marketing although it has never really taken off in Singapore. Just how effective and to what extend of success can it be? Advertisements definitely don't respond too well on SMS, but social sympathy works the best. SMS in this island has saved lifes, from patients looking for blood marrows to rare blood groups to whatever, it has played a huge part in making TV Charity and Singing competitions a success. It has earned millions in the format of SMS games and downloads. But using it as a marketing tool? Hmm.... just how? I don'thave a distinct answer for it just yet.

Text Messages were never very popular in the States. Until American Idol came into the picture. The telecommunication companies jumped on the wagon and developed a system with American Idol to use SMS as the voting platform in supporting their idols. And what happened? It took on a significant 70% increase (let me check the numbers and edit again) in text message users. Only at this point did America realised that it's a very simple and attractive messaging tool for communication. And how did that help America Idol? The channel of direct participation only made it even bigger than it is. American Idol is a star. Revolutionary in both TV and marketing industry.

So what may be some of the more probable use of mobile marketing? I was thinking it could be tapped on as a platform for CSR events. When it's for a good cause, people reads. (Of course, in Singapore, that includes anything that is free.) But good cause usually gets the word around, while ads don't. Send something you would be inclined to forward yourself. But remember, SMS doesn't works for direct sales, it just gives you a larger coverage on your core campaign. It may serve as a good support, but it should be carefully used and never spamed.

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