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Mobile Marketing Campaigns

Mobile marketing campaigns are attracting attention for early adopters in economic development and destination marketing. Now might be the time for your organization to determine if mobile marketing can help you achieve your goals.

Ideas for mobile campaigns are popping up all over North America. Tourism organizations are in the forefront. While their audiences are of course different from those of investment attraction agencies, their creativity and vigor can be inspirational and can be extrapolated for a variety of economic development purposes.

The Greater Lansing Visitor Guide

The Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau (GLCVB) announced in February that its Greater Lansing Mobile App won a first place award and the 2010 Greater Lansing Visitor Guide won a second place award from the North American Travel Journalists Association.

The Greater Lansing app has hundreds of listings for attractions, dining, festivals and events, accommodations and shopping. Two of its features appear to be trend-setters that have been adopted in other apps: links to social media sites, notably Twitter, so users can give live accounts of their activities to their friends, and a “Nearby Me” button to give users listings of things to do.

Commenting on the app in a discussion among LinkedIn’s Destination Marketing group, Lori Lanspeary, leisure marketing manager at GLCVB, said, “I think the best feature is the ‘What’s Nearby,’ which enables users to see if there’s a place to dine, shop or even an event from our calendar to attend.”

Taste Nova Scotia

Another destination marketing mobile app that has ideas worth emulating is Adventures in Taste Nova Scotia.

This app is laser-focused on the culinary tourism audience among visitors to the province in Atlantic Canada. Here’s a clip from the published description of the app:

“With a few taps on your screen, you can book a table at a new restaurant, plan a day trip or find a festival to check out on the weekend. The app allows you to explore by taste. That means you can seek out restaurants, local producers, farmers’ markets, breweries and wineries nearby. Explore by region and map out routes to the places you want to visit. Discover exciting culinary travel packages. Get a sneak peek of upcoming festivals and events.”

How many ways might this app inspire your organization to attract a particular segment of viewers by making targeted information accessible instantly on their mobile devices?

Examples of Mobile Apps

If you are looking around for more examples of early adopters who see competitive advantage from building campaigns around mobile apps, here is a sampling:

Moncton: Standing Out from the Crowd

Meanwhile, some destination marketing organizations have also developed campaigns based on mobile apps. One of the most recent comes from the City of Moncton in the Canadian province of New Brunswick.

On July 13, Enterprise Greater Moncton launched two mobile phone applications. The Greater Moncton Business Quarterly is an iPad-based magazine, while the Greater Moncton Strategic Partnership Directory mobile app is a virtual phone book with contact information for the more than 115 organizations that financially support community economic development in the region.

You can find both apps here. Moncton’s economic developers believe they will help the city stand out from the crowd as the “Number 1 place to do business in Atlantic Canada and the New England states.”

Chad Peters, manager of communications and community relations for Enterprise Greater Moncton, noted, “”No one else in Canada is doing this type of economic development marketing, which gives us a huge advantage in terms of promoting Greater Moncton.”

Greater New Orleans: Awareness

Equally enthusiastic about mobile marketing campaigns is Greater New Orleans Inc. In March it launched the GNOi iPhone App, which is full of facts, statistics, and accolades about the Greater New Orleans Region.

On the home page of the app, users select from three buttons: “Why Greater New Orleans?,” “Top News,” and “Contact GNO Inc.” Michael Hecht, president and CEO of GNO Inc., described the purpose of the app:

“Our staff often receives requests from board members, parish partners and the general public, looking for statistics on doing business in the Greater New Orleans region. We recognized the need for easily accessible information about our region’s competitive business advantages and the accolades we’ve received from news media outlets around the country. There is currently a very strong case for business investment in Greater New Orleans, and the data available through GNOi allows users to spread awareness of this historic moment in our region’s history.”

Breaking New Ground with Mobile Marketing:

For more ideas developed for mobile app campaigns by both municipal organizations and private companies, try:

  • UpNext 3D Cities, by a company called UpNext, offering searchable and tappable maps of New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco, Boston, Washington, DC, and Austin
  • iHastings, by Hastings County, Ontario
  • NYC Mobile Apps, by a company called MeetUp, a discussion forum for developers, designers, marketers and investors in New York City
  • Tampa EDC, by the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation

All of these organizations are breaking new ground with ideas for mobile marketing campaigns. The field is so new that there are no limits to the ideas that your community could develop for investment or tourism attraction. No consensus on best practices exists yet, but there are three that we can propose based on broad experience so far:

  • Encourage targeted audiences to take specific actions. Remember that the people calling up your app are typically moving from one place to another and looking for information with a purpose. How can you best serve that purpose? Calls to action such as inviting viewers to click to call, click to map or click to download also enable you to measure responses precisely.
  • Build a mobile website first, with databases drawn from your organization’s main site, then link the information on your app to those databases. Viewers looking for a momentary answer to a specific question will have easy access to your wider business information when more questions arise.
  • Tie the mobile campaign to your organization’s overall marketing plan and integrate it with visual and thematic elements on your other platforms. Tell everyone about it when they are visiting your websites, reading your newsletter or interacting with your social media.

Is Mobile Marketing Right for You?

Mobile technologies are beginning to redefine engagement with tourists, local businesses and new investors. From the appearance of current campaigns, those with mobile capability do seem to have an advantage over competitors because of the convenient and intriguing information delivery methods being offered to people anywhere and everywhere.

Determining if, and when, mobile marketing is right for your organization will require a look at your strategic goals, current communication and outreach programs followed by a strategic decision about whether to develop a mobile-friendly web-based campaign or whether to develop a mobile app.

It is readily apparent that the major force in information and communications technologies in coming years will be mobile communications. The nature of competitive advantage is shifting, and it’s most important characteristic now is the effectiveness with which audiences can be engaged where they want, when they want and how they want.

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