Six Emerging Marketing Technologies for Enterprises

Alpa Agarwal talks to Brian Mullin about the top 6 emerging technologies enterprise marketers should be experimenting with.

Brian Mullin is partner of Manifold, a startup he defines as a non-traditional marketing agency. A down-to-earth, roll-up-your-sleeves, let's leave the marketing mumbo-jumbo behind kind of person, Brian was anything but traditional. In this blog post, Brian talks about six emerging technologies marketers should be working with.

In a previous Network World blog post, The Heart of Social Media - Separating Hype from Reality, I stated that Social media at its heart, is a channel - a channel that presents new opportunites & new challenges. I stated that marketers shouldn't let the hype get in the way of using these channels to solve real business problems. For example, Best Buy's Twelp Force or Comcast's Comcast Cares offer customer support on Twitter. Dell offers discounted products on Dell Outlet on Twitter. Starbucks offers coupons on Facebook. Nike distributed high-quality, entertaining World Cup video on Facebook. There are countless such examples, where marketers are doing, what they've always done - finding ways to deliver value while at the same time advertising their brand. A customer's needs for value remain unchanged. But there is a new channel to deliver that value, social media, that enables 1:1 marketing at scale. As Brian likes to say, "Marketing is old. The channels are new."

Here are Brian's the top 6 emerging technologies enterprise marketers should be experimenting with.

The Smartphone

The Smartphone has changed our lives by making us more productive on-the-go, entertaining us,  or just helping us kill time. It serves as a one-to-one channel delivering us with personally relevant content, shopping opportunities & enabling us to communicate, not just via a phone call, but by aggregating email, instant messaging, social networking & texting. When standing in line at the grocery store, it doubles as a news reader. Or you can use Flipboard to pass time, lost in its beautiful pages of what your friends are consuming online. The Smartphone is unique in that it's usefulness changes by time of day & location. "It's the only computer I own that changes it's relevance to me depending on the street corner I'm standing on. Sometimes it's a GPS, sometimes it's a social network. When I'm standing in line at the DMV, it's my news reader. I've never had a piece of technology morph so readily; it's astounding," notes Brian. And as mobile device micro-processors go multi-core, it's power will only increase - high definition video, 3-D immersive shopping experiences & more powerful health applications.

Location-Based & Mapping Applications

Looking for sushi on the corner of 5th & Vine - here's a restaurant people like you have liked. Or here's the top-rated restaurant by the residents of this neighborhood or here's a restaurant your friends Jack & Jane like or are mayors of - or mash all these signals together to create a highly relevant recommendation system. "Is your retail store, restaurant or brand a part of this emerging ecosystem?" asks Manifold's Mullin.

Video

Most users of Smartphones now have video recording capability. This is a big shift. Not only can marketers deliver video both to entertain & to provide contextual purchase-related information, but they can so much more easily build engagement, endoresement & viral distribution, through promotions soliciting user-generated video. But there's another side to the story. If a customer finds a roach in their soup, it's going to be distributed quickly & efficiently - the word-of-mouth scale you derive from social media, will turn against you. As Brian says, "There is a shifting balance of power."

Group-Buying

People love discounts & the steeper the discount, the more they love it. So, it's a no-brainer to understand why services such as Groupon have grown in popularity. I am sure all of us love a $20 massage. What is interesting is the simple, but brilliant notion of adding virality to the experience - the group purchase part, that motivates people to share the information about the product or service. Brian says that it's a great way to drive trial & awareness & marketers should think of it in terms of a marketing expense. If you're a retailer, wishing to drive people into your store, you now have a new vehicle or channel: A discount on Groupon. No more newspaper circulars, no more TV ads, no more direct mail - just a simple Groupon for your store - fast, measurable & fun.

Hyper-Local

Have you heard of NoeValley.BlogSpot.com? Probably not. Or FWIX.com? These are a new breed of local web sites. They are hyper-local in nature. A resident of Noe Valley in San Francisco himself, Brian says the Noe Valley site has only about 400 members. Fwix.com is more of a scale play, a portal site for hyper-local communities. A great place for local advertising, these web sites are an emerging medium for large brands to experiment. For example, could Samsung partner with the local wireless retail store when launching new phones? Obviously, the main clientele is going to come from the local communtiy, so wouldn't it make sense? Could Samsung use these hyper-local web sites to communicate information about it's in-store inventory? If BN.com (Barnes & Noble) can tell me if a book is available in a store, why not Samsung.com?

Hyper-local web sites may not provide scale, but they give brand marketers the opportunity to engage with customers & prospects at a deeper level.

Another great example Brian provided is of an iPhone application, Food Spotting. This application allows users to upload photos of food from neighborhood restaurants. Looking for a big juicy burger, who needs ratings & reviews? Make your decision by looking at pictures. Aren't photos a key signal we use on Match.com?

Social Networking

Social networks are another key place for marketers, because they enable sharing - resulting in viral distribution of a brand's message. For more, watch the 5-minute video interview with Brian.

Alpa Agarwal interviews Brian Mullin on innovative ways he is encouraging his clients to use Facebook for brand marketing.

 

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