It Was Mobile Marketing Before It Became Experiential Marketing

We want our name back!  Marketing is a broad term in business. It refers to everything from advertising and public relations to branding, pricing, point of sale, packaging, interactive, mobile marketing and mobile marketing. Yes, I said mobile marketing twice. You will recall when teams of brand ambassadors hit the road in branded vehicles dressed in logoed polo shirts bound for events and public places to sample everything from beer to hand tools – marketing professionals called it “Mobile Marketing”. The name made sense to people, it worked, it was clear, simple, and descriptive – it made sense for what we at Pro Motion inc. do as a company.

Mobile Marketing was the ubiquitous identifier by which marketers referred to our slice of the marketing pie. It made for an easy elevator speech… “Yes, we’re in Mobile Marketing – you know, sampling, street teams and branded vehicles.” People got it without skipping a beat and usually asked a series of fairly well informed questions and we were off and running. “Mobile Marketing” ruled – we had arrived!

But while we were actively engaged in Mobile Marketing for brands like Budweiser, CNN, BOSCH and Tonka at events and gatherings in Boston, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas and Los Angeles, dark clouds were gathering on the cellular technology horizon. As it was happening it seemed benign enough – mobile phones were gaining market share, PDA and phone technologies were converging and companies were starting to use the new and growing technology as a platform for marketing. But in reality the cellular marketing industry was coveting something that was not theirs and they were going to take it. They decided they needed a name to describe marketing with cellular phone technologies. Rather than use a contemporary term like “Cellular Marketing”, or “PDA Marketing” they came up with “Mobile Marketing”. No due-diligence, no research not even a Google Search – if they had they would have found out. HEY! It’s taken, go find your own industry name!

I’m not saying “Oooo, cell phone technology took some of our business away, boo-hoo.” Hey, we regularly integrate cellular marketing technology into our programs as a way to increase effectiveness and reach for our client’s programs – it’s great stuff. No, I’m saying they stole our industry name! They ripped it right off our business cards and web sites. They perpetrated an all-out, pre-meditated conspiracy to steal our industry name – and they’re succeeding! In a matter of a few short years, the whole “Mobile Marketing” industry name has become the “Kleenex” of marketing tactics! Sure, use “Mobile Marketing” to refer to bumper stickers, they’re mobile. What about magazines? They can be carried around, they’re mobile.

So rather than fight the name pirates we rolled over and started a downward spiral of developing other ways to describe our place in marketing. We mashed words up to form new ones like “Retailtainment” and “Edutainment”. Then someone came up with “Experiential”. What the heck is that? Try explaining “Experiential Marketing” to your mom or your kids fifth grade class. It’s a freaking train-wreck. We now have ten or so ways to describe what we do in marketing, but none come close to our real name. The whole elevator speech concept now mandates you get stuck in the elevator between floors waiting for the fire department to come and rescue you to clearly explain what it is.

The kicker is people don’t even refer to their cell phones as “Mobile Phones” anymore. The evolution of the technology started with “Car Phone” which became a “Bag Phone” then “Mobile Phone” which quickly gave way to “Cell Phone” and now it’s just a “Phone”. I did a quick survey of the people in our home office here in St. Louis and of the ten people I talked to, 9 referred to the device in my hand (my iPhone) as simply a “Phone” – the tenth person called it a “Cell Phone”. Hmmm, so why would the whole industry of high-tech cell phone marketing want to continue to align their name to a technology reference that dates back fifteen years? It boggles the mind.

So whoever took our name, we want it back. Please return it to Pro Motion inc. at your earliest convenience, if possible before next week. We have a lot of presentations coming up, there are lots of confused marketing executives out there – we need to clean it up and have it in working order.