iMedia's Mobile Bootcamp host is the "Pope of mobile" Gene Keenan. Besides hosting industry events, Keenan is the special mobile consultant for Four Seasons Hotels, founder of the Collective Factory, and chief strategy officer of ReponsiveAds. According to this mobile expert, quoting from the brilliant Coen Brothers' film "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" when you finally begin to prioritize mobile, "you will find a fortune, though it will not be the one you seek. But first... first you must travel a long and difficult road, a road fraught with peril."
The reason why it's so difficult to develop a successful "mobile first" strategy (or simply a mobile strategy at all) is that marketers tend to think small, according to Keenan. Historically, mobile marketing efforts were developed by placing the consumer in the middle and identifying specific personas upon which to build a plan. But this is all wrong. According to Keenan, "Marketers are planning mobile as a channel." The consequence of doing so, he continued, "is that we continuously miss connections," which is botching a huge opportunity. As Keenan explained, mobile is great because it is transactional, social, locational, and immediate: "We have a permanent connection all the time, but we continuously miss connections."
One of the reasons why this happens is because marketers think in silos -- something they have learned to do throughout time. And, according to Keenan, planning online has become the focus because "traditional guys didn’t learn digital…and the digital guys didn't' want anything to do with mobile." But this is beginning to change.
Keenan then addressed how to move forward. He believes we should think of mobile as a platform or, as he put it, "a mule" -- a combination of two things that aren’t supposed to mix but, when joined, form a better whole. In other words, marketers need to stop thinking about the consumer in the middle and start thinking about the phone as the consumer. Advertisers need to "focus on the phone as the person," Keenan explained.
In addition, marketers need to stop outsourcing mobile work. Rather, mobile efforts should be in-sourced, working across teams to include IT, operations, etc. He is aware this will not be easy, quoting Wendy Bergh, the vice president of Walmart global e-commerce: "We could not have done mobile without a full company fight."
The good news for marketers is that the solutions are right in front of them. According to Keenan, marketers must "mobilize internally" by creating a "cross-company task force to mobilize internal processes." He believes marketers must finally "get out of theory and into practice." Keenan concluded with one succinct point. Marketers must start simple by working with internal groups -- by doing so, "you will become an unconscious mobile expert in time."