EFFECTIVE BUSINESS USERS AND THEIR WIRELESS DEVICES
Business users are the bread and butter of 3G wireless providers. These users pay high monthly bills in the interest of staying connected to work, family, friends, personal finances and entertainment on a single device. And, as advertisers, these users are just the sort that you want to target through your wireless advertising campaigns. Let’s take a look at the most common applications used by wireless business users.
Like previous users of traditional PDA’s, the 3G wireless user likely has his work/home email sending alerts to his wireless phone. An alert may be delivered via a text or short message indicating when new email has arrived. In addition, via web browsing, users may access their inbox on any web based email account, such as yahoo, hotmail and G mail. Finally, many carriers support email directly to the wireless device using the mobile number as the email address. These “email messages” are actually converted to text messages via the carrier.
The business user checks his primary email multiple times daily, and may even have an alert sound when new email arrives. This feature allows users to respond to emails quickly, as they arrive, without waiting until they are back in the office to “catch up”. These users typically spend a significant amount of time out of their office and using their wireless device as a “mobile office” helps them avoid backlog and makes them more productive.
This same business user looks to the internet as their primary source of research and information – whether at home or on the go. They view web pages to gain information, including researching their clients and their competition. They may also use their wireless device to gain access to web based email, as mentioned above. Finally, these users enjoy having the internet at their fingertips for personal reasons, too. They’re likely to use their mobile web to find out information such as movie times at their local theater, and to make dinner reservations through websites like Open Table or via the restaurant’s direct website.
When economic times are tough, businesses look to cut costs. One of the areas that always takes a hit is travel. There’s no doubt that video conferencing is an important business tool for keeping meetings personal when budget cuts won’t always allow you to travel to a meeting. Video over your wireless device not only means you don’t have to travel out of town, but you don’t even have to travel to your local office to make a video conference. Tools like these allow executives to be available for important meetings even on vacation. Though not widely available today, many developers are working on these applications today, and they are coming to our mobile phones very soon.
While business users typically do not use text messaging as much as teenage users, they are likely to use this feature for short questions and answers and status updates. While they may not initiate many text messages, they are likely to respond to messages they receive.
There are hundreds of applications available for 3G technology phones, from 3D games to weather information customized to your local area to networking applications. Business users will typically use applications that help their business, increase their productivity or pertain to their particular personal interests. Their use of applications may not be as heavy as the casual user, but they will have a few applications that are important to them.
Let’s not forget just how much we use our cell phones for their original purpose. In today’s world, waiting until we reach our destination so that we can use a landline phone is unthinkable. And, many people have even foregone the traditional home landline phone because they seem inefficient for the way we live. While programs like email are a slightly less intrusive way of getting in touch now, the ability to talk to someone in person immediately cannot be diminished. Voice usage is and will continue to be an indispensable communication method for the business user.
It’s important to realize just how much wireless devices, particularly smart phones and their counterparts have changed the way we do business. Today’s business person has more options and can be more productive and more flexible at the same time. Meshing business life and personal life is easier than ever, because the world is your office.
Gone are the days when the executive reports to the corner office everyday with his secretary planning his every move. Today’s executive reads and writes his own email, makes changes to his calendar while watching his son play soccer and works from home in his pajamas once a week. Today’s executive is selling a multi-million dollar contract in a customer’s office in Dallas while ordering a cake for her daughter’s birthday party in Atlanta over the web during meeting breaks. Business and personal life is mobile, and today’s wireless devices are more critical than ever.
The face of the new executive became powerfully evident during this year’s election campaign. Barack Obama was constantly photographed by the news media using his Blackberry or talking on his cell phone. Such obvious dependence on wireless technology has never been evident in a political candidate. And, by all evidence, it helped make him successful.
Obama literally ran his campaign via Blackberry. Certainly, there were times when it was intrusive, but it also helped him enormously. Obama responded to staffers, answered email, and kept abreast of news articles regarding the campaign. He also used his cell phone and Blackberry to make recommendations and keep involved during the financial bailout that went before congress during the campaign. He phoned senators and congressmen to rally support for the failed bill – completing his senate responsibilities while on the campaign trail for president.
Further expanding his cyber-presence, Obama also used Facebook extensively. Obama currently has over one million friends on Facebook, and the forum was widely used to disseminate information regarding his plans and to rally his supporters. He also used LinkedIn, a business networking site. Today, Obama is also “LinkedIn” to business people from every industry and level of business.
Obama’s foray into the digital world intensified when he became a senator for the state of Illinois. The Illinois legislature posted all bills and amendments online and all senators were issued laptops. While in session, senators could keep abreast of local news and use the internet to attend to personal and senatorial business. Soon, Obama saw the benefit to easy web surfing and began using a Blackberry along with his cell phone. When Obama ran for US Senate in 2003, his entire staff got Blackberry’s and they became a primary tool for communication. Obama’s senate campaign even had a blog, which was very unusual in politics at the time.
By the time Obama ran for president, he and his staff were dependent upon the Blackberry and other technology tools to keep up with the frantic pace. And, Obama’s command of technology has certainly contributed to his success. It would, of course, be unfair to say that Obama won the presidential election over John McCain because of his Blackberry. However, it is fair to say that Obama’s message was the most widely disseminated in US history. He was able to use every tool in the toolbox to make sure that potential voters knew his plans. He used these same tools to create excitement about his plans for change. And, there’s no doubt that the excitement generated about the change Obama promised played a large part in his election success. In this regard, he was the ultimate advertiser.
Contrast Obama’s technical savvy to that of John McCain. McCain admitted he rarely used the internet, and had just begun to get online on his own. However, he was an ardent user of his cell phone, and didn’t hesitate to call senior officials to discuss issues and plans. But, this was not the face of John McCain that the American people saw on a regular basis; certainly not the same way we saw Obama regularly communicating via Blackberry and cell phone. Could it be that Obama enticed people to get online and read his message simply because it was so obvious to us that he was putting information out there? Did he appeal to the business person who, like him, seemed tied to their Blackberry? Did he appeal to young voters simply because he was technologically savvy compared to his opponent?
Today, as Obama moves into the White House, he’ll likely again make technological history. US Presidents have traditionally been sheltered from technology such as email and cell phones, and have instead lived in a bit of a “bubble”, without independent access to the outside world. Obama seems intent upon maintaining his wireless connectivity and appears to be negotiating ways to stay tuned in to the American people via the web and email.
Obama’s fight to get out of the presidential bubble may seem cutting edge, but it is actually a fight to get back to a time forgotten. You see, many years ago, presidents like Abraham Lincoln stayed in tune with their constituents by hosting “open houses” at the White House. Ordinary Americans could visit with the president and share their views. Modern presidents have been so shielded from the outside world for security reasons that they’ve had ample opportunity to become estranged from the very people they’re in office to support. Relying on only the opinions of closest staff before making decisions can be dangerous. Is it possible that we would have known that Iraq didn’t really have weapons of mass destruction if President George W. Bush had been influenced and counseled by a wider group of advisors? Of course, we’ll never know, and it would certainly be unfair to say that the Iraq war would never have happened had President Bush just had email. But, it bears pondering.
If Barack Obama is successful at maintaining his connection with the people by using the latest in 3G technology, he will again make presidential history.
So, how can you be a Barack Obama when it comes to getting your message out to the people you want to connect with? In the coming chapters, we’ll explore using today’s most popular applications to increase communications with your customers and increase business. We’ll also talk about how to create your own niche applications to set you apart from your competitors and keep your marketing fresh and consistent with your company’s overall message.