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Remember the brand strategy for those new cool gadgets

As we end the first week back to work after the new year, playing with our Wiis and iPhones, the prevalence of the latter as gift items this past holiday season ably illustrates the point that many analysts are making: mobile marketing will come into its own in 2008.

But wait — wasn’t 2007 supposed to be the year of the mobile? Well, yes — and no.
The difference this year, according to some experts, is that the devices themselves are becoming a much stronger player in the equation.

The iPod-craze-style popularity of the iPhone, the moves by Research In Motion to make the BlackBerry more consumer-friendly and such M&A activity as Nokia’s acquisition of map company Navteq, all point to a year of excitement as far as devices are concerned. Future developments in infrastructure (such as the arrival of Google Android phones) will also be key factors.

But it’s important not to get carried away and shortsightedly view mobile marketing as a standalone tool. Organizations who look to the cool young kid in the marketing department and say, “get me a mobile campaign,” without first really seriously considering overall brand strategy — or, indeed, letting the young kid in on those conversations early on — condemn their efforts to be a mere bolt-on to other marketing output.

The relationship people have with their mobile phones is a unique and precious thing, one that shouldn’t be squandered by using mobile marketing as something that merely imitates what they’ve seen before via other media. Improved optimization of the mobile Web offers opportunities to be truly innovative, but what will really set the medium apart is understanding how other marketing tools can be deployed to amplify the experience.

If 2008 is the year of mobile, let’s also make it the year of beautifully integrated marketing.

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