It wasn’t long ago we realized a simple website could turn a local dealer into a national player. As we all know, the Web has no boundaries; put up a website in Nashua, New Hampshire, and you can sell product in Phoenix, Arizona. But the emergence of the smartphone is now changing that thinking, enabling dealers and manufacturers to once again go local.
For those of us who happen to own a smartphone (dare I say all of us?), it’s becoming more apparent every day that these tools will one day render most other devices useless. As a recent iPhone adopter (after years of BlackBerry loyalty), I often describe my new appendage akin to carrying around a computer in my pocket.
And while you can argue that its primary use is as a phone, the smartphone can also be a marketer’s dream, by being able to grab the attention of individuals in specific geographic regions and marketing to them on practically a one-to-one basis.
“Mobile has become so important to marketers because it is an incredibly powerful tool for engaging and retaining consumers’ attention instantly, as well as inspiring brand loyalty and directly increasing sales,” said Pierre Barbeau, CEO of Moblico, a developer of mobile strategies for business. “It’s no longer a question of whether or not a company should have a mobile strategy but rather what’s the best way to incorporate the mobile channel into a business strategy.”
Tamron is one of the first companies in the imaging industry to begin to take full advantage of this opportunity by developing its own mobile website. While it may be true that every website can be seen on a mobile device, the sites that are developed specifically to conform to the small screen of a mobile device are the true mobile websites of today.
I sat with Stacie Errera, chief marketing officer for Tamron USA, to ask why, and how, Tamron is among the first to dive into this new technology.
“A website on a smartphone usually has so much content, and so much flash content, that can’t be seen on mobile devices. And you really want the consumer to avoid pinching and zooming every bit of the website to be able to navigate around it,” said Errera. “On the mobile site, everything is legible because it recognizes the width of the screen and is designed to view well on that size screen. And it’s in a font that is very legible.”
If you go to tamron-usa.com on your computer, you’ll see the usual Tamron website. But if you type in the same URL on your smartphone (Android, iPhone or BlackBerry), their back-end technology will automatically recognize your device and deliver a compact, easy-to-read mobile website—with all sorts of opportunities.
With this technology still in its infancy, I was wondering why Tamron decided to take the mobile marketing plunge so early.
“To stay connected with our customers, we feel that we need to go beyond just e-mailing,” explained Errera. “We noticed that our e-marketing has been very successful, and we now have a very loyal customer base that follows us. So in order to gain more customers as our brand is expanding in the U.S., we’re taking it a step further by being able to message them in a tailored way depending on the product they own or where they live.”
Errera contracted with Moblico, whose expertise also is in developing mobile websites that can deliver important announcements via smartphones, from product information to local promotions.
“On our mobile website, we’ve picked the key categories that would appeal to our customers—like product information, brochures they can see on their phone, links to our social media and MyPhotoExhibits.com website, contest information and probably most important, where to find a dealer, which allows those looking for Tamron products to be able to locate a dealer in their vicinity,” Errera said. “If the user’s phone is GPS enabled, the site will automatically bring up the dealers within a 50-mile radius of where they are, or they can type in a zip code and find a radius of 100 miles. And if they click on a dealer, it will bring up a map of where the dealer is located.”
So why is this important? Because Tamron can now target customers, by dealer, in local market areas, to push information about deals and events their local retailers are putting together to promote Tamron products. And this all appears on a device that is practically an appendage.
“Mobile has become so important to marketers because it is an incredibly powerful tool for engaging and retaining consumers’ attention instantly, as well as inspiring brand loyalty and directly increasing sales.”
According to Errera, Tamron’s biggest objective is to help dealers bring traffic into their stores. “With this mobile platform, we will be able to tailor messages to consumers about events, promotions and sales to inform them about what is going on in their own backyard. Whether or not they are events we help the dealers execute, everything is geared toward getting people into their stores. It’s a win-win for our dealers and our customers.
“Dealers will be able to list their events and their Tamron specials on the mobile website, and we will then text message the consumers who have opted in to receive those messages that announce something locally is happening that they may be interested in. And now Tamron’s growing cell phone database of loyal customers can be directed to local deals in their area. Great for dealers, great for Tamron and great for consumers.”
Mobile marketing is just gaining steam, and consumers are only now becoming very accepting of information received on their smartphones that will help them make better choices. A recent Advertising Age study cited that 38 percent of smartphone owners prefer to get their coupons on their smartphones in a text message. And 26 percent of smartphone owners have already shown that coupon to a sales clerk or waitress. To date, only 26 percent of phones in the market are smartphones, but the adoption rate is increasing exponentially.
Tamron’s move to this mobile market shows marketing savvy that will surely serve them well in the months to come. But it’s the dealer base that can benefit the most when they hop on Tamron’s mobile marketing bandwagon.
“Tamron is an innovative brand, and they recognized early the need to tap into the mobile channel to do business with product users and distribution channels through cell phone technology,” said Barbeau. “With this first step, Tamron will be able to pursue real-time dialog with key constituents of their product ecosystem and gain valuable insight through an enhanced database.”
“I know this will expand our brand, and we’re one of the first within our industry to do something like this,” added Errera. “It certainly positions Tamron as a leader in the industry, but some of the downside of being first is getting the dealers to understand the potential of this platform.
I encourage dealers to log on to our website so they can understand how powerful this concept really is, and how much it can help on a local level.”
So how can dealers become part of Tamron’s mobile efforts?
“They just need to tell their local rep what they want to do with Tamron and we’ll take care of the back end and get the deal on our mobile site; then it will automatically be marketed to their local market area,” said Errera.
“I encourage every dealer to put together some kind of deal—anything from free training to giving away free digital prints with a Tamron lens purchase. It could be for a long time frame or a three-day sale. We can text message the deal to people in their local market area; we’re doing a lot of the work to help drive people into their stores, but they have to have a deal on the site for this to work.”
Tamron plans on promoting their new mobile website to encourage customers to sign up and opt into their program. They’ve already sent out an e-blast to 60,000 of their customers and also posted it on their popular Facebook page. According to Errera, they’re going to continue to promote this at their local events as well.
“We’re working hard to have a stronger bond with our customers. They’re now able to see the local deals, and they can also share this information by e-mailing it to a friend or tweeting about it. This kind of grassroots marketing will spread quickly, which will be great for our dealers as well.”
Tamron’s move to mobile is a bold one, and their vision of using the smartphone to expand their marketing message is right on target. Sometimes being first is risky, but by identifying the emerging smartphone as the next frontier, and inviting dealers to join their mobile efforts, they have raised the bar in lens marketing. Bravo.