Recently, I participated in a Google+ Hangout with my friends here at Bank of America, as well as representatives from MasterCard and Kim Dushinski, author of The Mobile Marketing Handbook. It was an interesting and timely discussion for a number of reasons, but for me, a main one was this: Mobile generally, and mobile marketing in particular, is the future, and the sooner small businesses get on board, the better off they will be.


Yet, while the mobile writing is on the wall, the fact is that many small business people tend to be late adopters of change - and technological change in particular. The reason of course is that we usually are spending so much time running our businesses that finding the time to learn (let alone master) a new medium is a challenge. So we roll along, doing what we’ve already been doing.


But, adopting late, especially when it should be obvious that mobile is the “Next Big Thing,” can be a big mistake.

First of all, if we want to stay in business, we have to put our business in front of potential customers. With so many people spending their time in front of their smart phone and tablets, then it is incumbent upon us to be there too.


Example: Ed owns an auto repair shop in a small college town. His shop is somewhat out of the way, so getting traffic and customers have always been a challenge. That is, until Ed embraced mobile marketing. Ed realized that most of his desired customers – the college kids in town – spent most of their time on their smartphones, and if he wanted to reach them, then that is where he needed to be too. So, Ed worked with his local phone company to create a mobile ad campaign. When people searched on their phones for auto repair in his city, his ad was the first thing that popped up. His business increased by 29% year over year.


Ed took advantage of one of my favorite mobile tools for small business – something called “click to call.” You have seen it of course, but you may not have realized that businesses pay for it. Do a search for some type of business in your area on your phone or tablet and you will notice that the top search results are often paid ads that allow you to call the store just by clicking on their number. Businesses pay for this privilege. Statistically, click to call is one of the most powerful and affordable ways to increase traffic for a business using mobile.


The other important thing to realize is that almost half of all searches now are being done on mobile devices. By putting your business in front of that huge audience, you automatically increase your odds of being found.


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Or, what about creating a text campaign? This is another easy and affordable way to tap into the mobile revolution. Here’s how you do it: Ask customers to opt-in by giving you their mobile phone number. Explain that if they do, they will get periodic text messages from you with discounts or notices about special sales. The beauty of this is that by opting-in, people are giving you permission to market to them. Getting this sort of permission is a privilege though, so use it, but don’t abuse it.


Example: Dunkin’ Donuts tested a text campaign telling people that they would get 15% off their next donut purchase if they opted-in. Many did. Dunkin later sent them a discount code via text, and business in that test store jumped 18% that month.


The biggest mistake that I see small business people making these days is not realizing that mobile is the future and that they will, sooner or later, have to master it. My advice? Sooner is better than later.


About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

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