Mobile Internet – If not now, when?

It would appear, that in matters of debate, I favour the alternative. Having been roundly thrashed proposing 'the future of marketing was digital' at a B2B marketing conference last year, imagine my enthusiasm when I was asked to propose the motion at a recent IDM B2B conference, 'This house believes that mobile marketing will be a crucial channel for B2B brands in the UK in the next 12 months'. I politely declined.

My reluctance to take the stage wasn't so much the fear of defeat, it was more a response to the depressing realisation that the B2B industry is catastrophically unable to respond quickly to game-changing shifts in market development.

I sat in the front row and listened to the argument against the importance of mobile. In the panel discussion following the formal debate someone 'rested their case' with the comment, “Ask yourself this, if you've just been told that your budget's going to be cut by 25 per cent, what would you do without? Mobile.” The comment (and the vote) highlights the staggering degree of ignorance about mobile technology in the B2B space.

A better question would have been, “If your budget was cut by 90 per cent and you only had 10 per cent left to play with, what is the single most essential activity that will deliver the highest returns in the next 12 months?” Mobile. Idiots.

“I don't want people to have my mobile number” was one comment from the floor. “I don't want more spam texts or unsolicited calls on my mobile” was another. Has the B2B industry once again failed to grasp the significance of social empowerment – this time in a mobile context?

No one is talking about SMS or telemarketing. That was the 90s. It's now 2010. Social media has changed the world of communications forever.

What does that have to do with B2B? Well, irrespective of budget cuts, we can barely afford to 'push' even if we wanted to. We have to 'pull' social-savvy audiences towards our products and services. Richard Robinson, industry head of business markets at Google said in the debate that mobile traffic has increased over 600 per cent in the last year. Your customers use their mobile devices to access and request information online. No one heard that of course, because they were worried about unwanted SMS messages...Your customers want to use their mobile devices to access content (your content) when it's convenient to them, which is hardly ever whilst they're at their desks.

Now reach for your mobile (it'll be right next to you) and punch in the URL for your own brand's website and have a look at how well your company content performs on a three-inch screen. It's not good is it? It's not even a difficult (or budget-breaking) problem to solve. If you do nothing else in the next 12 months, fix your content for mobile delivery – you can do it with one call, from your mobile. And if you don't, just remember that your customers are already engaging with those that have. Okay, now you can