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Why give priority to mobile and social marketing?

The biggest criticism I hear about the local, mobile, social Web is that it doesn’t yet just justify the hype–that it generates little to no return and distracts companies from focusing on those parts of their business that actually produce revenues and profits. That’s a valid concern. The very act of choosing to put any resources (people, money, or time) into testing the value of the local, mobile, social Web for your business automatically makes those resources unavailable for something else. Management, more than anything else, is about prioritization. Why give priority to something with no certain return? With so many of you struggling to get your company’s management to sign off on proven efforts like SEO, where’s the upside in pushing for the far less certain return of social media or mobile? Don’t good managers prioritize those things that produce the greatest return?

Of course they do.

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But, here’s the thing. Social and mobile (and mobile’s partner in crime, local), represent the most fundamentally disruptive communications tools since the commercialization of the Internet itself.


Several years ago, Thomas Friedman’s “The World Is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century” argued convincingly that cheap computers and telecommunications advanced the outsourcing revolution by making it possible for people on the other side of the world to provide products and services to the global market. People in places like India and China. Places that, until recently, were not what you’d call players in the global marketplace.

Mobile phones promise similar opportunities for developing and developed nations alike. According to McKinsey:

“The explosion of mobile networks is giving billions of people their first real entry point into the global economy, helping them become more informed consumers, connecting them with jobs, and providing much better access to credit and finance. The economic impact is tangible: every 10 percent increase in cell phone penetration in India corresponds to a nearly 0.6 percent rise in national GDP. Kenya shows how the future might unfold: just four in ten Kenyans have cell phones, yet half of all users–or one in five Kenyans–now make purchases via mobile-payment systems. Kenya’s largest employer is txteagle, an SMS messaging company, which provides jobs to more than 10,000 Kenyan citizens by doling out “microwork”: small tasks that can be accomplished over mobile networks.”

Mobile, just like cheap PCs and Internet access before it, will create a world of new customers in markets you’ve never imagined. Some around the corner. And some, around the globe.

Innovative companies, such as Google, 3M and IBM, allow their employees time to explore whatever they choose, in hopes of finding “the next big thing.” Those explorations resulted in, among other things, Google News, Post-it Notes and Lasik. These companies understand disruption. They’re not waiting for it to happen to them. Instead, they’re working to disrupt themselves.

Effective managers set priorities every day and focus the bulk of their companies’ energies on the areas that generate the greatest revenues and profits. You should too.

But, once you’ve done that, carve out a little time to explore more disruptive areas. And I know I’m repeating myself, but social, mobile and local represent the most fundamentally disruptive tools since the Internet itself.

Disruption is coming. Wouldn’t you rather it came from you? Setting the right priorities for your business is critical. But there’s at least one thing more important to good managers than setting the right priorities. And that’s making sure your company has a future.

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Tim Peter

Tim Peter built his first website in 1995 and loves that he still gets to do that every day. Tim has spent almost two decades figuring out where customers are, how they interact with brands online, and delivering those customers to his clients’ front door. These efforts have generated billions of dollars in revenue and reduced costs.

Tim works with client organizations to build effective teams focused on converting browsers to buyers and building their brand and business. He helps those companies discover how marketing, technology, and analytics tie together to drive business results. He doesn't get excited because of the toys or tech. He gets excited because of what it all means for the bottom line.

An expert in e-commerce and digital marketing strategy, web development, search marketing, and analytics, Tim focuses on the growth of the social, local, mobile web and its impact on both consumer behavior and business results. He is a member of the Search Engine Marketers Professional Organization (SEMPO), HSMAI, and the Digital Analytics Association.

Tim currently serves as Senior Advisor at SoloSegment, a marketing technology company that uses machine learning and natural language processing to improve engagement and conversion for large enterprise, B2B companies.

Tim Peter’s recent client work covers a wide range of digital marketing activities including developing digital and mobile marketing strategies, creating digital product roadmaps, assessing organizational capabilities, and conducting vendor evaluations for diverse clients including major hospitality companies, real estate brands, SaaS providers, and marketing agencies.

Prior to launching Tim Peter & Associates, LLC, a full-service e-commerce and internet marketing consulting firm in early 2011, he worked with the world’s largest hotel franchisor, the world’s premier independent luxury hotel representation firm, and a major financial services firm, developing various award-winning products and services for his customers. Tim can be reached at or by phone at 201-305-0055.

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