If you read FoneGigs with any regularity, you don’t need any convincing on the need for a strong mobile marketing program. But I recently came across a mobile agency whose approach to creating and budgeting mobile marketing efforts felt really new and refreshing. Instead of trying to sell in an expensive marketing program that would require a client to cut from others areas, VMBC (www.vmbc.com) addresses one of the most vexing questions facing most marketers as they look to establish a viable presence on the mobile platform: where do I find the money to pay for this?
VMBC has been in mobile since before any of us really called it mobile. In their 15 years in business, they have pioneered commercial use of voice messaging, early SMS efforts, and large-scale messaging programs. Their background is in the technology end of the business, building the systems to deliver more efficient and cost-effective messaging programs. In fact, it’s only been in the past two years that they have evolved into a full-service mobile agency, although in that time they have built a client roster that includes five F100 retailers.
As the team at VMBC sees it, budgeting for mobile as a cost center misses the whole point of the platform. In their eyes, when it’s done right, mobile is actually a profit center and your mobile program, taken as a whole, should actually be generating incremental revenue.
“Doing it right” means following a very specific formula for creating and launching a mobile program. It starts with building a community, creating a viable messaging database that will allow you to immediately begin generating a measurable ROI. Once you have an audience in place, the focus expands to engaging that community, delivering content and offers that will further their connection to the brand and continually affirm their decision to have allowed you into their mobile life. Finally, you can focus on selling to the community, using not only messaging but a wider array of mobile programs to drive incremental sales and the profit that pays for the entire program and still contributes to the bottom line.
Now, none of that is brain surgery. They just seem to be better at it than other agencies we’ve seen. And I think their success comes because they never take their eye off what they consider the single most important aspect of any program: building your messaging database through legitimate and verifiable opt-in. They are a little vague on exactly how they accomplish this (understandably), but their “secret sauce” for opt-in speaks for itself: over the past four years, they have opted-in more than 10 million customers into various client databases, and currently drive between 50,000-100,000 new opt-ins every month.
If you, like most people I speak with, know that mobile is becoming the preeminent marketing platform for any brand but don’t really know how to launch and support a mobile effort, I would definitely recommend checking out VMBC.