July 02, 2014

Why Doesn't Anybody Care About Mobile?

This was a question I received last week, on Twitter. It came from somebody under the age of 40. This person attended a conference that featured an older demographic. The person on Twitter was shocked to see such apathy.

"They all said mobile was a big deal, but none of them wanted to do anything about it."

"It was as if nobody cared. It was like they all wanted the world to be the same as it was."

I spoke at a company where the employee base was under the age of 40. Numerous employees asked me a simple and similar question ... "how do we convince Executives about the importance of mobile?"

Now, what I'm about to say is a dramatic over-generalization, of course. But I continue to see three camps out there.

  1. Old-School Marketers.
  2. Classic Online Marketers.
  3. Mobile Mavens.
And here's the thing, folks. If you are an old-school marketer, you will be able to find a customer base that loves old-school marketing. It's not uncommon for me to run across businesses where 20% of the customer base sends money in the mail, via a check. Do you understand the gravity of that statement? If you are a 28 year old marketer trying to convince somebody that mobile matters, and that somebody is involved in a business where 1 in 5 orders are sent via the mail, you've got a disconnect, don't you?

How about the Classic Online Marketers? This is an interesting crowd. These folks ripped into old-school marketing from 1995 - 2005 ... they were the future, everybody else was stupid. The fascinating thing about this group is that they, of course, became the establishment. So now we have mobile, and we can all see that mobile is going to eat the world. But if you are a Classic Online Marketer, mobile is a threat. To protect your job, you bolt mobile onto your business model (omnichannel), thereby maintaining your perceived importance. We've been here before. Old-School Marketers did this back in 1998 - 2003 ... they bolted e-commerce on to their business model and called it "multichannel".

If you are bolting mobile onto e-commerce (or retail), then mobile is all about lip service. Yes, to you, mobile is important, but it is important within the context of what is REALLY important to you ... and that's Classic Online Marketing. So you're not going to embrace real change, because by embracing real change, you have to relinquish all that you love about your job.

This, folks, is why the younger marketer is frustrated that "nobody cares about mobile". Old-School Marketers don't care because the old-school customer is sending checks in the mail and is responding to catalogs by giving call center employees key codes printed on the back of the catalog. Classic Online Marketers don't care because mobile is a threat to their way of doing business - so mobile, to them, is a bolt-on instead of a way of doing business.

I know, the Classic Online Marketers are going to tell me I'm wrong. Happens every week.

We live in a world where every marketing channel and every physical channel is important. You can find an audience that will respond to your favorite marketing tactic. Everybody else will think you are nuts - but you can make a good career out of mastering any marketing tactic.

It's not that nobody cares. It's that each audience cares about the tactics that cause their customer to respond.

Focus on the style of marketing you love, and focus on the customers who respond to the style of marketing you love. There's room for everybody.