Shift the Mindset from Mobile First to Pocket Strategies. Here’s Why!

September 12, 2013

in Mobility, Pocket Strategies, Strategy Formulation

pocket strategies

Tomi Ahonen writes a good post on mobile strategy. He says the fever is catching on and “mobile first” is now many top priority for many companies. It is true we see it everyday, and yet the label generally is faulty, strategically. Mobile first is only part of the strategy equation required for success. Read his post and then see why I believe “mobile first” is a poor label to promote and drive strategic change in your organization.

The mobile fever is catching on. More and more we hear major global brands suddenly talking of their ‘mobile first’ strategy. Not just the telcos. Not just the tech companies from Lenovo to HP, not just the media giants from Electronic Arts to the BBC, not just the electronics giants from Sony to Samsung. Bizarre names now saying mobile is their top priority. Like banks, credit cards, travel, retail. Starbucks, yes the world’s largest coffee chain said that mobile is their top strategic priority.

via Why is Everybody Obsessing About Mobile Now? From Starbucks to Tesco, from Visa to Budweiser Beer.

I’m going to make a case for thinking about mobile in the context of “Pocket Strategies”.

“Mobile First” is a label attracting attention. Probably because expensive consulting firms are using it. The problem is it is device-focused – on smartphones and mobile computers. Instead, what companies require today are “pocket strategies”.  By definition pocket strategies are personalized, user-centric, situation and context aware. Mobile first doesn’t communicate these things. It shifts attention from PCs to mobile devices rather than re-defining attention. A mobile first strategy doesn’t fully embrace the disruptive nature of the behavior change that is happening. More importantly it isn’t focusing the team on deeply immersing themselves in new user experiences. Tomi has great examples in his post of why companies doing great mobile things are enabling changes that are successful and revolutionary. Yet I’m not sure they approach the future as “mobile first” alone.

Obsessing about mobile first and not user first, is to define your business through a device rather than a lens on the broader world.  Why not just dive into someone’s pocket and stay there. Yes I want you to obsess on how they use the device, where and when it happens and what for. You want to be part of that experience and you want to leap out of my pocket from time to time. When you (company, organization, brand) live in my pocket you truly have an intimate relationship with me. Don’t ignore what it means. This is a relationship you never had the opportunity to have before and it is a lot more nuanced than you are accustomed to. Just remember I’m a person not a device and you also don’t want to be a device.

So how does shifting your strategic direction to “pocket strategies” help?

1. Context. A mobile first strategy doesn’t put “context” first. It doesn’t address the user, their status, or deeper understanding of behavior. It is more suggestive of an App, or moving the website to being readable on mobile devices. Too often solutions are dumbed down for mobile. That’s a mistake. The mobile pocket strategy is more like the genie in the bottle.

2. Stories: Mobile first is about forcing stories rather than telling them inside the company from personal experiences. If you want people thinking about strategy and not just the next smartphone’s wonderful features then create a paradigm that involves, emotion, behavior, passion, time, involvement, values, futurism. First employees brought these smartphones to work. Now bring them onboard. Most of them are already learning faster than your company is.

3. Brand and personality. If you want your brand to survive in the new world where my mobile phone is both my friend and gatekeeper then where and when are you part of my life. Will it be time to time, when I go home ,or on my way to work? How many layers will you have in your brand strategy? How will you encourage adoption, how will I find you, remember you or return to you (and why?).

I’m afraid “Mobile First” is an in the moment cry rather than a longer term understanding and direction. As an organization, a leader or manager, you require a POV on how this new world will evolve. Keep in mind how and why I will love you as a brand. How and where I find you, reach for you, and interact with you. What is that edge that your brand, product, service brings that makes me want to take you everywhere (In my Pocket)  and then how will you delight me? Add to my passion, make me a better person, help me live a better life! That’s why so often the mobile is seen as a tool for empowering life.

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