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BusinessColumnistsJamie Herzlich

Small business: Using mobile marketing tactics

Between smart phones and other Internet-enabled wireless devices, it's almost impossible not to be able to reach most anyone at any time or any place.

Smart marketers know this and are increasingly incorporating mobile marketing tactics, including text message campaigns and specially designed mobile Web sites into their marketing mix.

The potential is huge, considering there are more than 200 million wireless subscribers with text-message capability and over 450 million mobile Internet users worldwide.

"It is a mass media," explains Federico Pisani Massamormile, interim chief executive of the Mobile Marketing Association, a Manhattan-based nonprofit trade association, and chief executive of Hanzo, a mobile marketing company in Brazil.

There are multiple ways to use mobile marketing, and some of the more popular tactics, according to Lindsey Jaffe, emerging media specialist at WordHampton PR in East Hampton, include:

Text messaging campaigns that send text alerts about relevant news or deals;

Mobile Web sites, which are designed to fit the screens of small mobile devices; and

Downloadable applications, which allow users to instantly access business-specific information, such as specials and photos.

Vittorio's going mobile
Vittorio's Restaurant and Wine Bar in Amityville plans to use all of the above and recently introduced its own downloadable iPhone application. The app, created by WordHampton, lets customers make reservations, get alerts/notifications and access the restaurant's photo gallery, online store and other information, says owner Michael Vittorio Esposito.

There are different tools available to build and manage mobile apps, says Jaffe, who used Mobile Roadie to create Vittorio's for $499. Apps generally work best for businesses relying on repeat customers, says Jaffe, noting WordHampton has its own.

While local statistics were unavailable, calls by Newsday to various Long Island business groups and mobile marketing firms show growing regional interest in mobile marketing.

Officials at the Deer Park mobile marketing-communication services firm Skoop say they have seen a 200 percent increase in the past year in inquiries and interest for mobile marketing, and the company is working on more than 15 campaigns locally.

WordHampton PR is also fielding more queries and will build at least half a dozen or more iPhone apps this year, and Prime Visibility in Melville says queries have more than tripled, primarily from companies interested in text campaigns and iPhone apps.

"More people locally are exploring the option," says Prime Visibility chief executive Andrew Hazen, a Long Island Software & Technology Network board member. "It's almost like what SEO [search engine optimization] was a decade ago."

E. Christopher Murray, president of the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce, concurred. "It's at the very beginning stages locally, but within six months to a year I think it's going to be very prevalent."

Mobile Web sites can be used to reach a wider audience and pair well with text blasts, notes Jaffe, who is working with Skoop to develop a mobile Web site and text campaign locally for LIFoodies. This will be a mobile community for 250-plus local restaurants, where users can receive deals and alerts via their mobile devices.

 Building a base
The key to making this kind of campaign successful is to collect as many qualified phone numbers as possible.

"It all has to be permission based," explains Kim Dushinksi, author of "The Mobile Marketing Handbook" (CyberAge Books; $29.95). "The reality is no one wants to be marketed to; however, everyone wants to receive relevant value. As long as businesses take that into account, it's the perfect tool."

Looking to get your feet wet?
Add a mobile coupon to your Google local business listing: googlemobile.blogspot.com/2009/11/get-mobile-coupons-through-local-search.html. (Click here to connect.)

Check out sites like MoFusePremium.com, which allow users to create low-cost mobile Web sites. (Click here to connect.)

For the Mobile Marketing Code of Conduct see mmaglobal.com/policies/education. (Click here to find.)

Sources: Kim Dushinski, Mobile Marketing Association

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