We recently received some coverage on TechCrunch about the launch of our new NFC Mobile Wallet Cards. These new Vizibility NFC Mobile Wallet Cards, as well as our personal QR codes, will instantly direct the person scanning right to your online Mobile Business Card.
Using technologies such as NFC and QR codes are an easy way to advance your mobile strategy. But they do not come without challenges. With the range of options…and the ease of implementation of many of them…it is very easy for some avoidable mistakes to creep into your mobile marketing strategy.
So what are the things you should consider when planning your mobile marketing strategy for your professionals and your firm?
First, for networking situations the information transfer has to be instant. There are plenty of beautifully designed mobile apps to help with professional networking. However, in our opinion you should avoid requiring a separate app because it is highly unlikely that you’ll have critical mass in any networking environment. Just study Bump. Or better yet, ask 10 random people how many have downloaded the LinkedIn app. Scanme.com requires an app (step 1), presumably logging in (step 2), manually entering a multi-digit code from a business card (step 3), etc. Of these three steps that’s two steps too many. Other companies are also headed down this path. You have to work with what’s native on the phone (or have a deal with the carriers and mobile OS’s to make your app native…that’s big $). Vizibility’s Mobile Business Card is an HTML5 web app and ‘just works’ in any mobile browser with any QR code or NFC scanning app that can process a URL. These are native apps on most devices. It’s one step. Scan the QR code or touch the card to the phone with NFC. The next thing you see is the person’s Mobile Business Card. It’s fast and snappy. There are probably other approaches but that’s ours.
Second, value creation is not in QR code generation or in the NFC chip or its encoding (whether in paper, plastic or some other medium). These are commodities. The value is created in the experience that is delivered after it’s scanned. This is where marketers haven’t done a great job and why QR codes have gotten a bad rap. In fact, there’s even a site that tracks marketers stupidity when using QR codes. NFC for non-payment applications will suffer the same fate unless marketers and their service providers get on the ball and start delivering smart, mobile optimized experiences. One other point to make here is that NFC will not replace QR codes…rather NFC will be to the QR code what television is to radio. For instance, we have a large law firm client McCarter & English who dynamically adds their lawyers’ personal QR codes to their PDF bios that are downloaded and printed from the firm’s website. That’s a great application for personal QR codes because you cannot download an NFC chip.
Third, offer more than just what’s on the business card. Vizibility is not an NFC or QR code company. Vizibility is an online identity management company for individuals and the enterprise. We help people control, share and track their professional web presence…on the web and on the go. We use a variety of tools, like the Mobile Business Card, to help people share their online identities quickly. We go well beyond what’s on the business card. For instance, we enable people to create a “Google Me” button that brings up just their personal Google search results. This “Google Me” button is on the Mobile Business Card but can also be added to websites, email signatures and LinkedIn profiles. The vCard is a commodity so find ways to differentiate your offering to add value to it. CardMunch falls down here. It’s fine for transcribing what’s on the business card itself but its utility will diminish as people pro-actively start curating their online identities and link to them off business cards. The present incarnation of the LinkedIn profile is not the answer either because it generally does not include the contact information you have on your business card (unless you’re first degree in which case you probably already have that info). Big opportunity for nimble companies to fill the gap here.
Finally, would you rather sell one set of business cards to a 1,000 people or would you rather sell 1,000 sets of business cards to one person? I’d rather do the latter (and do that 1,000 times). Successful services in this segment will understand how SMBs and large companies will buy personal branding services and build enterprise class systems to make it easy to inexpensive to quickly build dozens, hundreds or thousands of Mobile Business Cards that put creative control and account management in the hands of the marketing and purchasing departments. For instance, we have several APIs that enable our partners to create accounts on our system for their clients. We also support mass account creation from a simple Excel file. Branding elements in our Mobile Business Card can be locked down by marketing. And we offer what we think is the first ever firm-wide Online Identity Manager, a roll up of all accounts under any one company so designated corporate admins can easily manage the accounts, view tracking metrics, etc. These are non-trivial systems and have to be well thought out.
It’s exciting to see so many companies entering this segment. The net result of the competition will be amazing products and services for consumers and professionals.
James Alexander is Vizibility’s founder and CEO. He’s the guy with two first names. If you ‘Googled’ his name in 2009, you would never have found him. Now, he ranks within the first few results of a Google search. Find James in Google at viz.me/james.