To be honest hearing all of the doom and gloom headlines surrounding RIM makes me kind of sick. One because I feel the media sounds like a broken record and two because no matter where you look every article bashes RIM and the Blackberry. I have never seen such one sided journalism in my life. It is like everyone is kicking the dog when it is down. I have never been a fan of RIM and even when I was in University back in 2002 I thought their business strategy and marketing strategy was flawed. I have also always thought that they have a terrible culture of arrogance that would eventually lead to its demise. I had multiple opportunities to apply for jobs at RIM but never did as I knew the company was not for me. I am probably one of the people that dislike RIM the most, back when everyone thought RIM was the best thing ever and the stock was going through the roof I still despised the company and felt they would not have long term success.
But what I can not understand is why there is not any Canadian media are providing commentary with advice or ideas for how to improve their situation. Instead all of the media is focused on stating just how hopeless RIM is and describing all bad things that could potentially happen to the company. I have never seen such a one sided media commentary in my life. To be honest I am sick of reading the articles and have been waiting for at least someone to provide some valuable media coverage on the company that will give the leadership of the company something to think about. For a company that has done so much for the community within which it resides the community (especially the media) has done very little to repay the favor. I am probably by far the worst person to provide this commentary but since it appears no one else is willing to, I will do my best. Hopefully some more experienced media experts will follow my lead so that the media coverage on RIM and its cell phones goes back to what would be considered good journalism that includes negative news, positive news and true commentary that discusses opinions on what RIM has done wrong, what it has done right and what it should do differently to overcome it challenges. If the media can not do this for good journalism I plead that they at least do it for my own sanity.
A Case Study Review Of RIM's Blackberry Mobile Fusion
A few days ago I got an marketing email from RIM. I don't have a blackberry and I don't want one but I thought this marketing material and product launch is something I could comment on and is within my area of knowledge. In this article I will try and provide a review that talks about this particular marketing initiative, what I think RIM has done well, what I think RIM has done wrong and what I think it should do to be successful going forward with this product and marketing campaign. Hopefully you can use this review to come up with ideas to improve your own email and online marketing initiatives that are geared toward getting new customers for your business.
The Marketing Email
The marketing email RIM sent me was definitely issued in an attempt to generate new customers for its Mobile Fusion product. Below is a copy of the email.
What RIM Has Done Right With Mobile Fusion
Playing To Its Strengths
Not doing this is what got RIM into its current trouble in the first place. Early on RIM focused a lot of becoming a mobile phone hardware manufacturer and distributor. This was dumb as pretty much all electronic hardware devices are commodity items that have low profit margins. The only exception to this rule would be if a company had extra ordinary marketing skills that could trick consumers into thinking their devices are not commodities. This is why Apple is successful, because they have uncanny consumer product marketing skills. Apple has been able to convince consumers that their mobile devices are different than other products and therefore charge exorbitant prices (that are sometimes as high as 2-3 times the competitors prices), which allows them to make ridiculousness profits. RIM does not have the strength of marketing like Apple and thus should have never expected to be able to make high profits for long periods of time by selling mobile devices. Instead RIM's strength I believe lies in making mobile device technology and mobile network software for enterprises. Coincidentally enterprise software markets typically have high profit margins. Therefore RIM all along should have been focusing on this area. This product is a good move for RIM because it follows this strategy and plays to blackberry's biggest single strength, excellent enterprise grade software development for mobile devices. This marketing email to introduce the launch of Blackberry Mobile Fusion does a good job talking to some of the strengths of blackberry (enterprise solutions, software). What it does not do though is talk about other key strengths such as security, call reliability and inter-device communication).
Using Email Marketing And Its Website
Next to referrals the most common source of new customers is a product or company's website and email marketing. Given the above email I received we can see these two marketing methods are central to the marketing plan for RIM's Mobile Fusion which is excellent.
Incorporating Social Media
Social media is a great tool to generate interest and awareness for a product. It is also great for driving traffic to a website that can then do the hard work of convincing a prospect to buy. RIM has included social media in this launch which is good. What I would recommend to improve this would be to make the social media buttons significantly bigger on the website and include more of them. I would include icons for all of the following, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Youtube, Linkedin, StumbleUpon and Reddit. To compliment this strategy I would recommend creating videos showing the software in action and then post those videos on all the previously mentioned sites. For Facebook and Google+ I would ask new customers via email once a month pass since their original purchase to place a comment on either of these sites explaining what they think of the product. This will not only create more social media activity and awareness but it will also create social proof for the product, generate referrals and provide valuable product feedback and improvement ideas.
Incorporating Apple & Android In The Devices The Software Can Manage
This was key as this is what customers desperately want. Something that can manage all of the various devices their workforce has. They do not want a piece of software that only looks after blackberry's or only looks after Apple or Android. This will also allow blackberry to interface regularly with the network manager using blackberry branding which may present interesting opportunities to gather competitive information on Apple & Android or an opportunity to turn the network manager into a loyal blackberry supporter. With the network manager being a blackberry supporter they may make further product or service purchase from RIM or implement policies that require users to purchase blackberry products.
Selecting A Good Product Name
I like the name "Mobile Fusion" because it is very easy to remember and clearly tells you what it does. It fuses all mobile devices under one secure management platform. The only thing I am thinking that might be missing from the name is a word that talks to the security of the service (especially given this is one of RIM's strengths. In my other article titled "How To Pick A Name That Sells" I outline seven criteria every good name should meet. They are that the name must be differentiated, brief, appropriate, easy to spell, satisfying to pronounce, suitable for brand play and legally defensible. I feel the name "Mobile Fusion" meets all of these criteria but that it could be slightly improved in terms of differentiation and communicating the products key benefits.
Selecting A Recurring Revenue Stream Model
If you can sell a prospect something for $500.00 or something for $48.00 a month, as long as the prospect uses your product for 11 months you will come ahead and if they end up using your product for even only 3 years you come out over 300% ahead. If they use your product for a lifetime....well that is a lot of money. Building a requiring revenue stream is always the preferred way to go if you can convince people to sign up for the monthly fee. Given all cell phone users pay monthly fees to use their phones I foresee RIM having no problem charging a monthly fee for the software to manage cell phones, so RIM has definitely made the right choice here.
Using Repetition In Their Marketing
I received two emails in under two weeks from RIM about Mobile Fusion and then I saw the same ad in the Canadian Business Magazine issue titled Investor 500. Repetition is key to marketing as on average the target of the marketing will need to see the message 7 times before it sticks. The fact that they are using the Small Business Magazine indicates they are also doing good targeting with their marketing spend given they are trying to talk to business owners...hey they got to me and I am a business owner. Hopefully RIM will not stop at only 2 emails though and will deliver a complete campaign of 10-12 touches. The one area they could improve here is to change the content of the email (the second email I got was identical to the first). Maybe they have this in the plan though as I have only seen two emails.
What RIM Has Done Wrong With Mobile Fusion
Not Controlling The Media
This is not specific to his product launch but is a general statement. RIM has done a poor job of controlling the media. Part of me almost thinks Apple or Google may even be feeding the media with these stories or at least fueling the fire behind the negative media attention that RIM has been getting for the last year or so. I just can't see how the media coverage is so one sided and negative that it is almost like the media is on a mission to do its best to destroy RIM. They need to get control of the media by responding to the media and making statements that acknowledge the problems, outline a plan to rectify the problems. Until they get the media under control things like this marketing email and new product launchs are going to have minimal results. Part of this I think lies in how RIM has acted in the past, but I feel the new CEO is a very good improvement in the regard but he still needs take control of the media by always responding to the medias comments and questions directly, making statements that acknowledge the problems, outline a plan to rectify the problems and make statements that show he is a leader. He does deserve a lot of credit for what he has done so far. He got handed a mess and has done pretty well so far given the circumstances.
Using Image Without Text At The Top Of A Marketing Email
Here is what I saw at the top of the email RIM sent to me for Mobile Fusion.
Given most people use some kind of a email preview pane to determine if they are going to open an email you need to put something at the top of the email that will entice people to open the email. As you can see there is not much to entice me to open the email. Using images at the top is not effective as many previews will block them (as in this example). RIM should have put more text at the top, talking about the key benefits of the service and things that would entice me to open the email (a secure, singular enterprise mobile device management tool to manage all brands of smart phones, how the software will save me time, etc).
Not Capturing Lead Information
No where on the that site you are pushed to from the email does RIM do anything to capture the lead information so that they can continue to market to that interested prospect. Now possibly they have placed a cookie on my computer but probably not. What they should be doing here is getting me to input my email and putting a focus on getting me to add Mobile Fusion Facebook and Google+ Page. This will give RIM the ability to collect information about my interest level and continue to market to me. This is especially important for the people that are coming to the website from the magazine ads or search engine traffic. If RIM does not capture their information that prospect will be most likely lost. Where as if they get a way to connect again with them (email or social media) there is a much better chance they will be able to convert the prospect with further marketing. Again on average a marketing message needs to be seen seven times before it sticks or a person takes action.
Not Hammering Home The Key Benefits To The Customer
The key benefits to the customer of this product are security, simplicity and the ability to manage all cell phones and tablets from one tool. The creative on the website does a decent job of communicating this but these benefits to the customer does not jump off the page if I glance at it for 2 seconds. That is about all the time and attention most marketing gets, so the message needs to be clearer. The email also does not have these benefits jumping off the page. When I look at the ad quickly the main thing I get is that it is some kind of software for enterprises....it gets my interest a bit but it could definitely be improved. The other thing lacking in the creative is that it does not explain what problems or pain points the product takes away.
Not Displaying Value
This has a lot to do with the last point from the last paragraph. The ad creative does very little to communicate to me what value the solution is to me. It does not really say much about how it will make my life better, if does not do that it has to at least display a potential for value so that I want to read more. The creative needs to display some value for me, clearly explaining how it will make my life better.
Image Not Linked To Message
The creative is weak largely because of the image. The text is not that bad, it is not great but not terrible. The images selected to be used on the other hand are. It does not communicate any of the key benefits (security, all in one solution or simplicity) or the value to the customer in terms of time saved by using a single management tool or flexibility by having a tool that can manage all devices. I am not a graphic designer but if I was to recommend an image I would suggest something like an image with a whole bunch of different mobile devices and tablets some how being put together (possibly in a basket or web of bubbles, with lines connecting each other and one big large circular brick wall they are within). This would show that the tool is secure and can manage all types of mobile devices.
Sending Traffic To Youtube Instead Of Its Website
The marketing email strangely sent traffic directly to youtube from the button "see the big picture". I would recommend sending them to a blackberry webpage that has the youtube and other youtube videos embedded. This would allow for more design flexibility, branding and the possibility that they may click on another blackberry mobile fusion page after they are done watching the videos. On this page they could also do a better job enticing the viewer to subscribe to the blackberry channel, get their email or get them to add RIM on another social media site.
Multi-step Transaction Button
When I went and clicked the how to get it I was surprised I did not go to a check-out window. Instead I went to another information page and then I had to click again to buy. Once I went to that page there was now two options I needed to choose from, once I clicked on one of those I went to a product page where I needed to add it to my cart. That means in total I had to click 6 times before getting to just the shopping cart where I could check out. I was totally lost and am surprised I even made it to the shopping cart. If I was not going through the process just to see how many clicks it would take I would have given up after the 3rd page. By having so many clicks there is a good chance they will lose a very high percentage of interested customers. This should be 1 click maybe two to get to a checkout screen. RIM is making it to hard to buy the product, when they should be making it easy. To see the ridiculous maze to purchase their product go to http://ca.blackberry.com/business/software/blackberry-mobile-fusion.html and try and purchase the software.
Recommendations Going Forward
Going forward RIM needs to focus on things that meet the following criteria
1. Are products, services or process markets that have high profit margins for all competitors
2. Are things that they are good at doing (better than anyone else in the market)
3. Are products and services that are for customers they understand and can meet the needs of
If RIM does these three simple things, I think they will find they are in a much better position for the long run and will consistently deliver profits. For this particular product launch the key things RIM needs to do is
1. Generate 10-12 marketing touches per lead using multiple marketing mediums (I recommend email, facebook, google+ and display ads through google adwords using remarketing)
2. Start capturing lead information in terms of contact information (name, email, reason for interest), cookie information to enable display ad remarketing and focusing on obtaining Facebook Likes and Google +1s.
3. Revise creative to hammer home the key benefits, display value or the "What is in it for me" and have images better link to the messages trying to be communicated.
4. A/B split testing of the landing page to compare a single step transaction process and a mutli-step transaction process and us A/B page testing to improve the conversion of their Mobile Fusion website.
Why some other Canadian media sources have not provided opinionated commentary on what was the weak part in RIM's strategy and how the company could be turned around is mind boggling. This would be good news that people would eat up off the news stands. People are getting board of only reading that RIM's has lost X market share to Apple, that RIM's stock price has dropped X amount because of its falling out of favor with consumers, or that they are cutting X number of jobs. I wish the media would stop being lazy and do their job...add some actual commentary you lazy bums. For the Canadian media, once in a while paint a positive picture for a company that has helped our economy and that you have probably benefited from. I am sure the negative headlines are dramatically influencing a large number of consumers not to buy Blackberry phones because they don't want to buy a phone thinking they are buying a losing product or a product from a company that won't be around in a year (given the media is making it seem like RIM can't survive much longer). Even worse many consumers probably think the blackberry is a poor quality product because of all the negative news, which is not at all the case. The company has a great product, they are just getting hammered by better marketing from the competition. Journalists stop the bashing and start doing real reporting with commentary.
My name is Chris R. Keller. I work at Profitworks Small Business Services helping various B2B small businesses in Waterloo and Kitchener Ontario generate new customers. Feel free to connect with me on Google+ or if you are just interested in getting new customers for your B2B small businesses enter your email in the box provided below and click the "Send Me Free Updates" button.